5 Organic Materials Helping to Counteract Pollution from Big Fashion

5 Organic Materials Helping to Counteract Pollution from Big Fashion

With new organic materials being discovered and used, how long will it take see an improvement in pollution caused by big fashion?

Alternet calls it “the second dirtiest thing in the world,” and, yes, unless living in nudist colonies is your thing, then you are wearing it. No shirt, no shoes, no service – like it or not, clothes are an essential aspect of conducting normal lives, but according to recent findings, we’re helping to contribute to an industry with a pollution status of epidemic proportions, because the only industry that contaminates more than big fashion is big oil.

As Alternet so aptly pointed out, there are obvious areas of pollution, such as cotton farming pesticides, toxic chemical dyes, and waste created by the nearly 11 million tons of clothing discarded by Americans every year, but there are other lesser known unsavory practices that take place behind the scenes. “The extravagant amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and shipping” are also cause for concern.

Changing an industry’s practices that is so large and so well established, while possible, would require cooperation, compliance, and possibly a lifetime to turn around. However, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. In fact, there are new textiles on the horizon that could help combat some of these issues, including the resulting biodegradable properties of your clothing, therefore increasing the recyclability, as well as the use of organic materials in order to create new fabrics and textiles.  

1. Muskin

Created from organic materials, Muskin is a textile breakthrough that’s making positive waves in the vegan community. GradoZero Espace, a textile manufacturer based in Italy, has presented the public with a “leather” that is cruelty-free because it’s crafted from mushrooms caps. The total absence of chemicals, even in the tanning process, makes this one hundred percent non-toxic, biodegradable, and perfect for close contact with the skin. With an appearance similar to suede, but much softer, GradoZero Espace claims MuSkin is antibacterial and has the ability to both absorb and release moisture, making it ideal for insoles and watch straps.

2. Naoron

Soft Naoron is a paper developed by SIWA from wood pulp and polyolefin utilizing the washi-suki paper manufacturing method. This textile is used to create bags that are flexible, highly water-resistant, and do not tear easily. When burned, Naron does not emit noxious fumes. According to the website, the company is located in Ichikawamisato, Yamanashi, which boasts a 1000 year history of papermaking, where the Japanese paper (washi) maker ONAO and industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa have teamed together to create the SIWA series.

3. Kapok

This silky cotton-like fiber from GradoZero Espace is a tiny cellulose tube with air sealed inside. It’s lauded for its buoyancy and was once the primary stuffing of life preservers and water safety equipment in the mid 1900s. Apparently it’s making a comeback as filler for some garments in an Italian fashion line, and serves a great insulator for winter coats, sleeping bags, and even mattresses. What’s great is that kapok is biodegradable, reusable, and the Ceiba trees from which kapok comes are said to be grown without widespread cultivation.


Made from bast fibers from flax and industrial hemp, Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc., of Canada, proudly manufacturers biodegradable and sustainable CRAiLAR fabrics. The unique process is the star here, thanks to an enzymatic treatment that “removes pectins that stiffen the fibers, yielding a fiber similar to cotton in softness and durability.” Self-appointed as “the friendliest fibers on the planet,” CRAiLAR has set the bar for itself very high, but does claim that it’s process “dramatically reduces chemical and water usage,” which would help combat some of the issues with fashion today.

5. Ingeo

Dextrose derived from “field corn already grown for many industrial & functional end-uses” is Ingeo’s primary ingredient. And although the sugar source, not the corn, is the real necessity, “cellulosic raw materials, agricultural wastes and non-food plants” are potentials for the future. Brought to you by Nature Works, LLC., apparel made from Ingeo has the ability to correct some of the bad fashion manufacturing habits and pitfalls we discussed earlier.

Since Ingeo is comprised of plant material, as opposed to oil, creating this clothing “uses 50 percent less non-renewable energy and results in 75 percent less greenhouse gases.” With so many positives to choosing Ingeo, it would be difficult to name them all, but the notion that replacing the PET in 100,000 plastic food containers with Ingeo can save greenhouse gas emissions equal to driving a car 16,000 miles and non-renewable energy equal to 775 gallons of gasoline is definitely worth mentioning.

Hopefully we will be seeing an influx of these new fabrics in stores, as opposed to just reading about them, in order to bring change to the current state of big fashion. Until then, it’s important to support businesses such as these and continue to urge them out into the mainstream through sales and word of mouth. How do you think pollution from fashion can be reduced or eradicated? Share your thoughts with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!

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Image of Clothesline via Shutterstock

Jamie Duncan

After starting out in public relations, Jamie finished college with a BFA in interior design. This combination of writing and design knowledge, coupled with her fashion and lifestyle expertise, has paved the way for an exciting freelance career. Her work has been published in magazines and online, plus she’s managed PR campaigns, and is no stranger to copywriting. Jamie’s a vegetarian and cruelty-free product fanatic. Connect with her on Twitter and check out her website to learn more.