Whether you’re looking to ditch wool from your wardrobe or find an animal friendly alternative to knit with, thankfully there are now a whole host of cruelty free fibers available to you.
Many people tout wool as an eco friendly choice, claiming it is much more sustainable that petroleum-based products, but at what price to the animals? From the horrific practice of mulesing and selective breeding causing unnaturally thick wool to their inevitable and terrifying slaughter, the wool industry isn’t as innocent as you may imagine.
Fortunately you can have the best of both worlds. If you care about the planet and the animals, then check out the following seven alternatives:
Naturally antibacterial, bamboo is a beautiful renewable fiber which grows rapidly without any need for pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Fabric and clothing made from bamboo can be manufactured and produced without any chemical additives, and it’s 100% biodegradable and can be completely decomposed in the soil without releasing any harmful pollutants into the environment. Bamboo is also an increasingly important plant in terms of global deforestation as it generates up to 35% more oxygen.
Made from either the young shoots or the outer bark of banana trees, harvesting of this fiber does not hurt the tree and it is a completely renewable resource. Although time intensive, the process of banana production is nonetheless a sustainable one that offers numerous possibilities for those looking for wool alternatives.
Well known for its durability and strength, hemp is one of the oldest and most versatile fabrics used in textile production. It is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and reusable, it grows fast and thrives in all sorts of climates, it improves soil structure and even cleans up toxins from the ground through the process of phytoremediation. Like cotton, hemp can also be made into a variety of fabrics, including high quality linen.
Named as one of the “optimal materials for America” by leading environmental site Treehugger.com, flax is an incredibly useful plant that can be utilized in a number of ways. Growing naturally and requiring much less water than conventionally grown cotton, flax is gentle on the land and the processing of its fiber leaves little to no impact on the environment.
5. Organic Cotton
Organic cotton offers all the benefits of conventional cotton but without the environmental impacts. Cotton makes for a soft and versatile material that is super easy to work with and ideal for everything from blankets to clothing.
Made from the natural cellulose found in the pulp of the eucalyptus tree, Tencel represents a milestone in the development of earth friendly textiles. The fiber is very economical in its use of energy and natural resources, and it is fully biodegradable. Tencel is created through a closed-loop process whereby 99% of all solvents and emissions are recovered, recycled or decomposed.
7. Recycled Plastic
Polar Fleece is made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles and has numerous advantageous environmental and fabric qualities. The fabric is created by melting down old plastic bottles into pelts which are then spun out into yarns ready for creating the fleece. The fleece fabric has great insulating properties and has a low water retention value of just 1%. The process prevents billions of PET products from ending up on landfill sites and the fleece can even be recycled again in the future, giving an endless cycle of reuse.
Of course all of the above alternatives are not without their faults, but when grown, sourced and manufactured ethically and organically, they are solid replacements for wool-based products.
Photo Credit: olduser