Climate change worries have us searching for more eco-friendly alternatives to our lifestyle more than ever.
People are buying bamboo furniture to save trees and replacing plastic containers with reusable glass to stop plastic pollution.
Products that some of us have not thought about needing to go green can be found in our closets.
Polyester textile production produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as 185 coal-fired power plants produce in a single year – World Resources Institute
Switching to natural clothing to reduce carbon footprint is the answer for more eco-friendly clothing, but not all natural sources are created equal.
The most common eco-friendly clothing options people choose include cotton, linen, bamboo, wool, recycled clothing, and hemp.
Why do we think hemp is the best eco-friendly fabric?
Let’s talk about hemp’s competition first. There are hidden dangers for you and the environment with the other known eco-friendly clothing sources.
When thinking about eco-friendly, we should also be considering health impacts from the material and how it is made.
Cotton fabric comes from fields of white fluffy cotton plants located in the cotton belt, mainly Texas. This versatile plant is used in other everyday products such as tampons, cotton balls, and Q-tips. Cotton clothing is soft and warm and you can even find organic cotton clothes.
There are far greater conventional cotton fields than organic. Organic or not, processing cotton still with the historically famous cotton gin releases tiny particles in the air around the factory. These tiny particles contribute to air pollution aggravating the lungs of people around it and even miles away. Cotton sprayed with pesticides and herbicides are also found on these particles floating in the air reaching deep down into the lungs increasing the risk of lung cancer and are especially troublesome for children with asthma.
I had a classmate who lived by a cotton gin and quickly moved as soon as she could. Her family constantly battled respiratory infections and could hardly breathe. She was shocked to experience this problem that no one thinks about unless you live close to a cotton farm.
Cotton may not affect you if you don’t live close to a cotton gin. We must realize, the more demand for cotton releases more lightweight tiny particles that can travel great distance carried by the wind.
Did you know linen is made from flax plant? You can get your flax seed and clothes from this plant. Linen is processed differently and you get what you pay for. The more money you spend on linen, the softer and fewer chemicals come with it.
Flax requires fewer herbicides and pesticides than cotton when conventionally grown but prefers a cooler and moist environment. Natural processing also requires a soaking period in a pond full of water for a few weeks. This process, which is most eco-friendly, does not help battle mosquitoes or conserve water.
Again, with demand for clothing grows with population, more chemicals are being added to process flax quicker producing larger quantities of linen. These larger quantities are not higher in quality.
Bamboo is gaining popularity as the most eco-friendly natural source for many products around the world. I fully support bamboo in the home, but not so much in the closet.
Bamboo can be as strong as steel making it very difficult to process into clothing. The most widely used chemical process to breakdown bamboo into fabric uses sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid to do the job. Both chemicals are highly corrosive and can be hazardous if released into the environment.
Just like chemical processed linen, higher quality uses less corrosive chemicals.
As the environmental movement continues, hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals are being used for a more eco-friendly processing option for bamboo fabric. These chemicals are easier to be captured and recycled.
Wool is a tough competitor for hemp. It could be the most eco-friendly source of fabric if the process to collect wool was not so harmful to the sheep themselves.
If you’re an animal lover, this article on sheep abuse during wool removal is a must read.
Animal abuse aside, large animal farms contribute to greenhouse gases and contaminate water sources with large amounts of waste produced from the animals disrupting the ecosystem.
The most eco-friendly source of wool would come from a small sheep farm who practice careful wool extraction techniques.
Another problem I find with wool is developing wool allergies. I am one of them with a wool allergy.
Many might disagree, but I feel recycled clothing does nothing for the environment other than recirculating pollutants and continuing the demand for energy consumption.
Here’s why I feel this way.
It is true, it takes less energy and chemicals to process recycled clothing than to create synthetic fibers from the start. The problem lies with the toxic chemicals continued to be used in this process.
The idea of recycled clothing does not stop people from buying harmful synthetic fabrics often made from oil and manufacturing powered from fossil fuels contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Synthetic fibers still need to be melted down to be molded into new fabric releasing cancer-causing chemicals into the air and they are still on your skin.
This may slow down or stop the production of synthetic material to reuse what we have already made but it still keeps it around and in circulation.
While there is not the best solution yet for dealing with synthetic clothing, there is interesting research underway to deal with our plastic and synthetic clothing pollution that I hope gets figured out quickly!
Besides recycling old clothing to reduce clothing pollution, we can stop buying any clothing containing synthetic fibers all together and start buying the most eco-friendly fabric to stop the polluting cycle.
This leads us to our most eco-friendly clothing fabric, hemp.
Hemp is a natural source requiring the least amount of water, contains more fiber for clothing in less square footage, and has the least carbon footprint compared to other natural sources for clothing.
Hemp fabric is also hypoallergenic, pest resistant, and you can find more organic hemp farms.
Thanks to the delay of legalizing hemp in the United States and the new farm bill, new hemp farms can start out on the right foot with organic growing.
People who are interested in buying hemp clothes also are demanding organic hemp as they are more aware of health benefits in going organic. This increases organic hemp products and decreases conventionally grown crops through economics. This is exactly what The New Health Cycle is trying to achieve.
Hemp is the only plant that is edible, you can wear it, build with it, make everyday products with it and treat health-related issues with it. It is truly the most versatile eco-friendly plant in existence today.
Processing hemp fiber is also more eco-friendly than linen not requiring a pool of water to soften and breakdown the fibers and fewer chemicals are needed for treatment compared to bamboo.
Hemp WINS but where can you find the BEST hemp clothes?
Hemp wins the most eco-friendly clothing fabric with the least water, chemicals, carbon footprint, and health effects for humans and animals.
Most eco-friendly does not mean 100% eco-friendly, unfortunately.
All of these eco-friendly options can help minimize ecosystem damage but grown on large scales to support the world’s population still requires energy and some degree of pollution to manufacture.
Hemp clothing is the best alternative we have today so where can you find organic hemp clothing for the best of the best?
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our Affiliate Disclosure here.
Here are some popular and fashionable hemp women clothes we found on Amazon with the best reviews of quality and eco-friendly production:
Most hemp clothes are mixed with other materials. Hemp alone is not very soft or stretchy. So to get the most eco-friendly mixture of fabrics, keep comfort in your clothes, and add some natural style to your wardrobe, hemp mixed with organic cotton or linen is the best a woman can find right now.
Here’s what we find to add to your eco-friendly closet on Amazon:
This adorable summer tee is light-weight, casual, and made with organic cotton and hemp. Perfect summer tee to start the season off by being more eco-friendly.
This beanie for women or for men is breathable, durable, and can be worn in the summer for those beanie lovers out there. The best part about this beanie, it is 100% hemp! I love the colors too!
You can find organic hemp socks! The more organic hemp we buy, the more products will become available. You can start supporting eco-friendly hemp fabric small with a pair of socks.
Eco-friendly clothing also includes underwear! We don’t think about it much but people can go through a lot of underwear in one year. Let’s make sure we’re not hurting the environment with our undergarments.
Colorado is making sure no hemp goes to waste. These plain T’s are made with 55% hemp. The hemp in this shirt prevents shrinking that you usually find in 100% cotton. That’s a plus to help make your comfy T’s last!
I love these pants! They are a combination of hemp and recycled polyester. You honestly won’t find many options for hemp pants but these are the most popular right now and durable with recycled material. While we’re waiting for the best way to degrade synthetic material, recycling is the next best thing and the majority of the material is made from hemp.
Eco-friendly Clothing Takeaways
Some of the best eco-friendly clothing options out there are not 100% eco-friendly and organic hemp clothing fabric is the best of the best.
100% organic hemp clothing is hard to find and usually mixed with other material such as organic cotton and recycled clothing.
The more clothing containing hemp we buy, the more new hemp clothing designs will become available.
The new hemp bill taking effect this year will open the door to more eco-friendly hemp products including clothing lines.
While we are waiting, support those companies making clothes with hemp now to increase organic hemp fabric demand.