Forget Wool – Eco-Friendly Vegan Fabrics Are the Future
In the wool industry, sheep are beaten, kicked, stamped on, thrown, mutilated, and even killed by the workers who shear them – a recent PETA Asia investigation exposed the cruelty inherent in the UK wool industry.
Luckily, there’s no need to buy wool or other animal-derived materials. There has been a surge in the availability of eco-friendly vegan fabrics that are the ideal combination of soft and sustainable, and many clothing brands are now opting for them instead of using wool. Here are some of the high-performing cruelty-free fibres you should be wearing:
Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals and is considered environmentally sustainable. In fact, cultivating organic cotton is known to improve soil quality and often requires less water than producing wool. Like many other vegan fabrics, it’s easier to wash than wool, faster drying, and softer to the touch.
Linen is a durable, hypoallergenic material that becomes softer and stronger the more it’s used. Unlike wool, which takes a long time to dry, it easily releases moisture into the air, keeping you cool. It can absorb up to 20 per cent of its weight in moisture before it feels damp.
Not only is seaweed a great snack, it also makes a great fabric! To manufacture SeaCell fibres, dried seaweed is ground, crushed, and mixed with cellulose. The brown algae used reportedly remineralises the skin, activates cell regeneration, limits inflammation, soothes skin irritation (bye bye, itchy wool!), and detoxifies the body.
Lyocell is manufactured from wood pulp in an environmentally friendly closed-loop process. The fabric is biodegradable, recyclable, and naturally wrinkle-free. It is soft, drapes well, and can be washed, dyed, and even woven to mimic the qualities of silk, suede, leather, moleskin, or wool.
Modal is a variety of rayon fabric made exclusively from the renewable fibre of the beech tree. It’s soft and smooth with a moderate to high sheen. Also known as “artificial silk”, it is soft, drapes well, and dyes easily. Unlike wool, it doesn’t need to be ironed and retains its shape, size, and strength even after repeated washing.
Hemp grows well without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers, making it ideal for organic farming. The plant’s roots protect the soil from run-off while building and preserving topsoil and subsoil structures. Hemp fabric is also completely biodegradable. With great texture and breath-ability, it doesn’t trap heat or support the growth of bacteria as wool can.
Soya fabric, also known as “vegetable cashmere”, is an eco-friendly, petrochemical-free material made from a by-product of soya-bean processing. It has the softness and lustre of silk, the drape and durability of cotton, and the warmth and comfort of cashmere.
rPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Also called “recycled polyester”, it’s a member of the polyester family that’s derived from the plastic bottles used for water and fizzy drinks. When you put one of these bottles in a recycling bin, it may end up being turned into a polyester fibre like this. Unlike wool, rPET is soft to the touch and won’t leave you feeling irritated and uncomfortable.
Note: Before purchasing any item, always check the label to make sure that it contains only non-animal materials.
These vegan fabrics are the face of the future. They’re versatile and environmentally sound, and they don’t involve cruelty to animals – what more could you want?
To find cruelty-free clothing, check out our list of companies using the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo:
Please also take action for animals suffering in the wool industry and urge boohoo to stop selling wool: