Skip to main content

The most sustainable fabrics we can purchase today

The essential concept of sustainability focuses on the three main areas impacted by an item’s production: Environmental, economic, and social. In other words, the impact of a product or component of a product on these three areas is considered in order to determine its sustainability.

When sustainability is kept in mind, businesses are encouraged to plan around not only what benefits them in the short-term, but also the needs of future generations. In regard to fabrics, there is a broad range to choose from, with sadly only a few brands striving for sustainability. However, there is a rising number of companies interested in creating sustainable products, alongside a growing number of customers demanding it with their dollars. When we shop for fabrics for our bedding, clothing, etc., we should also try to seek out the most sustainable fabrics available.

Overall, the most sustainable fabrics are those that comprise the following qualities:

  • Long-lasting and durable; useful for years to come.
  • Manufactured sustainably using low-impact processes and sustainably-sourced and/or recycled materials.
  • Manufactured ethically by people who are treated fairly and paid well.
  • Manufactured with or distributed via circular processes such as recycling, reusing, sharing, and swapping.

Let’s take a look at some of the top sustainable fabrics based on what we know above.


several pieces of linen fabric in different colors
Andrew Buchanan / Unsplash

A natural fiber derived from the flax plant, linen has been a popular fabric for centuries. The process from growing the plant to weaving its fibers into fabric can take months, but unlike cotton, it requires very little water. It also requires minimal or no pesticides, produces few carbon emissions, is high-yielding, and is thoroughly biodegradable as long as it isn’t dyed.

Durable and affordable, linen can be made into almost any type of clothing or bedding, and can even grow in low-quality soil. What’s more? It’s naturally moth-resistant, moisture-absorbing, and versatile — every part of the flax plant is used, so there is minimal waste involved.

Organic hemp

Right next to linen in sustainability is the ultra-durable and world-renowned hemp. Harvested from marijuana’s favorite cousin, the hemp plant is quick-growing, requires no pesticides and hardly any water to grow, and has countless uses from milk to cosmetics to construction material to fabric.

Known to get softer with each wash, hemp fabric has long been used throughout the world. What’s more? Through a process called phytoremediation, this amazing plant actually fertilizes the soil it grows in.

Peace silk

large piece of green silk fabric
Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Some folks may not realize that traditional silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms during a process in which the worms typically die. Unlike traditional silk, peace silk requires no insects to die in its production. Also known as ahimsa silk (ahimsa is a Buddhist concept of respect for all living things), this fabric allows the silkworms participating in its creation to live and become moths — whereas traditional silk requires them to die during the boiling process of silk-making.

Additionally, peace silk bypasses the concerns about slave labor that traditional silk-making carries by verifying its production with the World Fair Trade Organization Guarantee program. So, although the fabric may not have the same super-smooth feel of traditional silk, it still feels great, and you can feel great about wearing it!

Organic cotton

One of the most sustainable fabrics in current production is organic cotton. Made without the harmful pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals used in the production of regular cotton, organic cotton is best when recycled, which utilizes post-industrial and post-consumer waste as well. If you’re selecting organic cotton, look for the GOTS-certified label to be sure you’ve got the most sustainable variety you can find before purchasing.

However, it should be noted that while organic cotton uses 62% less energy and 88% less water than conventional cotton, it still requires a tremendous amount of water to produce and has been considered rare among fair trade networks.


Made by dissolved wood pulp, Tencel is produced by the Austrian company called Lenzing AG. Creating both Lyocell and Modal fibers, Tencel controls the chemicals used during production by utilizing a closed-loop system that recycles the solvent, making the waste less dangerous.

Often combined with other fabrics (as shown above) and popular in activewear, Tencel has been described as 50% more absorbent than cotton with fully compostable and biodegradable fibers made via an eco-friendly production process. It’s also said to require less water and energy to produce than cotton.


This innovative Japanese fabric is made from synthetic spider silk using microbes and spider silk genes to produce. Qmonos is not only completely biodegradable, but lightweight, flexible, and five times stronger than steel.

Best of all, no spiders or any other creatures are harmed to produce this material. This makes it more sustainable and ethical than silk or nylon — so you can feel good about using it on your clothing, bedding, or wherever it turns out to be.

Wrapping up

stack of different fabrics in various light colors
Mel Poole/Unsplash

These are only a few of the numerous fabrics entering the sustainable space, so keep an eye out for many others as they become more established, such as:

  • Econyl
  • Pinatex
  • Recycled polyester
  • Scafe
  • Camel wool
  • Qmilk
  • Alpaca wool
  • Merino wool
  • Cupro
  • Yak Wool
  • Apple eco-leather
  • Brewed protein
  • Ecovero
  • Organic bamboo
  • Woocoa
  • Scoby leather
  • Sheep wool
  • Cashmere wool
  • Vegetable-tanned leather

Most of these, like some of the fabrics we highlighted above, have both advantages and disadvantages to their use. While some may be nearly 100% sustainable in their production process, they may have a terrible record when it comes to fair trade. Others may have the opposite situation. As of right now, there is no perfect fabric — but we are getting closer.

Pay attention to which fabrics are growing in their sustainability, and confirm they have the proper labels by comparing to a guide like this before purchasing. If you find you need more inspiration, don’t hesitate to check back with us for updates on these and new articles on what’s happening in sustainability.

Want more? Check out the benefits of cooling bedsheets – and maybe consider getting them to let you enjoy a sweat-free and restful night.

Editors' Recommendations

Why your home should have an areca palm (and how to care for it)
Tips for properly caring for an indoor areca palm plant
Decorative areca palm

Your aesthetic indoor plants should reflect your unique style, and they should integrate seamlessly with your home's decor. Indoor palms are a joy for anyone wanting to bring a piece of the greenery from warmer climates into their interior design. If you're looking for a bold, tropical addition to your indoor space, an areca palm is a perfect choice. With their substantial height and sharp, feathery foliage, these palms add a fresh and bright statement to any room. Let's talk about the benefits of growing an areca palm in your home and how to care for this gorgeous plant properly.
Can an areca palm grow indoors?
While they can get substantially taller when planted outdoors, areca palms can still grow pretty well and actually make for fantastic indoor plants, reaching heights between six and seven feet tall. They'll grow between six to ten inches every year until they reach their mature height. Then these plants can last up to a decade indoors. You can limit the size of your areca palm by housing it in a planter that keeps it root-bound.

Benefits of having an areca palm indoors
Not only does this tall indoor plant bring aesthetic design and a mood-lifting splash of the tropics into your home, but it also offers numerous health benefits. This attractive palm can improve indoor air quality by removing toxins and adding humidity to the air, which is great if your indoor air tends to be a bit dry. Caring for a living thing like this palm is also a mood booster in itself.

Read more
Eucalyptus in the shower? Here’s how to grow this fragrant plant for your spa-themed bathroom
Hanging eucalyptus in your shower has a ton of benefits. Here's how to plant it for months of use
Eucalyptus plant in shower

Are you looking to create a spa-like experience in your luxurious bathroom? Eucalyptus in your shower can create a relaxing ambiance and add a refreshing and invigorating aroma to your daily routine. If you're curious about the benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower, how to grow eucalyptus indoors, and the proper techniques for harvesting and using it in your shower, you've come to the right place. We'll walk you through how to grow this fantastic plant indoors and why you need it in your shower today.
Benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower
Eucalyptus is a fantastic choice for your next shower plant. Its aromatic leaves are not only known for their pleasant fragrance, but this plant also sits at the top of many lists of medicinal herbs due to its numerous health benefits. Here are just a few benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower.
Spa-like fragrance
Imagine stepping into your shower and having a soothing and refreshing scent reminiscent of a luxurious spa greet you. Eucalyptus emits a delightful fragrance when exposed to steam and warm water, turning your daily shower into a revitalizing experience. The aromatic oils released by eucalyptus can invigorate your senses and awaken your mind for the day ahead.
Reduces stress
In today's fast-paced world, finding moments of tranquility and relaxation is essential. Eucalyptus has been used for centuries to reduce anxiety, as its fragrance has calming properties. When the steam from your shower activates the eucalyptus leaves, it releases essential oils that can help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being. Breathing in the fragrant vapor creates a serene atmosphere, allowing you to unwind and melt away the tensions of the day.
Soothes respiratory issues
If you're battling respiratory issues like congestion or allergies, eucalyptus can offer relief. The aromatic compounds in eucalyptus leaves are actually known to have natural decongestant properties. When infused with steam, the eucalyptus vapor can help clear your nasal passages and soothe irritated airways. Breathing in this therapeutic mist can provide a comforting sensation, making your shower a sanctuary for respiratory wellness.

How to grow eucalyptus indoors
If you're sold on the benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower, you're probably wondering how to get your hands on some of this amazing plant. Instead of searching for pricey sprigs of eucalyptus online or in stores, try your hand at growing it on your own as a beneficial indoor plant. Here's how to grow and nurture eucalyptus plants.
Step 1: Choose the right eucalyptus variety
Before embarking on your eucalyptus-growing journey, it's essential to select the right eucalyptus variety to thrive indoors. Some eucalyptus species are better suited for indoor cultivation due to their compact size and adaptability to container gardening. Consider varieties like Eucalyptus gunnii or Eucalyptus globulus, which are commonly grown indoors for their aromatic leaves and manageable growth habits.
Step 2: Create the ideal growing conditions
This aromatic plant thrives in bright, indirect sunlight, so find a well-lit spot near a window where your eucalyptus can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Ensure the room temperature remains between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as the plant prefers moderate warmth. Adequate humidity is also crucial for its growth, so consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase moisture levels. Of course, growing it as a bathroom plant ensures wonderful levels of humidity that your eucalyptus will love.
Step 3: Plant and care for eucalyptus properly
When planting and caring for eucalyptus, make sure to use the following techniques to guarantee excellent growth and a healthy plant:

Read more
It’s official: Study says this is the most stressful IKEA furniture to assemble
Have you been stressed out by this Ikea furniture yet?
Ikea storefront sign

If you love everything there is to love about IKEA (the prices, the selection, the tasty meatballs) but wince when it comes to their RTA (ready-to-assemble), flatpack furniture pieces, and the often confusing, wordless instructions that come with them, know you're not alone. It can be overwhelming to say the least, especially if you don't consider yourself handy.

If you're looking to avoid that frustration, hotukdeals created the Flat-Pack Stress Index — basically, they got 100 participants to assemble flatpack furniture and tracked their heart rate and heart rate variance to see how much they stressed and exerted themselves putting together some of IKEA's most popular furniture items. Which IKEA furniture is the most stressful to put together? Here's what they found.

Read more