Fashion, Sustainability

5 Biodegradable Fashion materials for a Sustainable future

Soybeans — who would’ve thought?

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Nov 2, 2022

We all know what fast fashion is. Notoriously famous for polluting the planet, child labor, inhumane labor conditions, and many more negative impacts — it is a wonder that it’s not been eradicated yet. Fast fashion garments are constructed from petrochemical-based textiles, such as nylon and polyester, which can take up to 200 years to disintegrate and are produced cheaply by underpaid factory workers. It doesn’t end there. Each year, fast fashion made from these materials releases around 500,000 tons of microfibers, which are small plastic particles that pollute the water.

 

However, it really does not have to be the future of fashion, seeing as innovation on so many levels in the industry can actually help it become more sustainable. One of the most promising aspects of this innovation is biodegradable fashion. The environment would substantially benefit from the transition to a “new textile economy,” which would embrace biodegradable textiles and environmentally friendly materials.

 

The environmental issue in the fashion industry might be solved with the use of biodegradable materials and colors, which break down after being disposed. Here are the most prominent biodegradable fabrics and what you should know about them.

 

Hemp

Hemp is incredibly adaptable; the fiber may be used to manufacture paper and clothing, and the seeds can even be eaten. Hemp is better for the soil than cotton and requires less space and water to grow. It draws fewer nutrients from the soil than other materials.

 

Each acre of hemp plants yields 1,500 pounds of fiber. Hemp textiles are more durable, absorbing, and effective insulators. Hemp only takes about a few weeks to decompose, making it one of the best biodegradable materials out there.

 

Cotton

While cotton is not the most environmentally-friendly, it is still biodegradable. It is better when grown organically rather than having to use pesticides, which negatively effect the environment. It’s definitely better than polyester, but it’s not the most effective biodegradable material out there.

 

Algae

According to a study, chemical dyes used in textile can permeate skin and cause long-term effects. Textile dyeing is also the second largest water polluter. Algae is great because not only is it versatile (a potential ingredient for plant-based meat), but it also can be turned into sustainable fashion materials such as biodegradable dyes and fibers.

 

Bamboo

Composite materials for apparel and home goods can be produced from bamboo fibers. Pesticides are not required for the bamboo plant, making it extremely environmentally friendly. It enhances soil quality and regenerates on its own accord. Bamboo can be made into fabric, though the method determines whether or not it is biodegradable.

 

Soybeans

Yes, you read that correctly! You can actually make fabric made from beans. Eco-friendly soy cloth is created from the leftover soybean hulls from food manufacturing. It has a cashmere-like texture and a small amount of stretch and is quite soft.

 

Many of you are probably thinking: Okay, so this is the new sustainable hype, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Given that our climate crisis seems to be getting worse by the minute, we may have to actually resort to biodegradable fashion, and weirdly enough, it is worth exploring as an alternative for fast fashion.

 

If you weren’t aware, here’s 5 reasons why fast fashion isn’t great — but the blame isn’t on who (or what) you may think it is. Additionally, biodegradable denim is a thing, too.

 

Photo via Sun Lee