The Hunt for Eco Friendly Fabric
Eco-friendly fabric. Nowadays there is eco-friendly everything, so it shouldn't be a problem right?
Well, yes and no.
We are always looking for the best fabrics to use for our wraps. Meanwhile we do the best we can, but we know it's not perfect. (See more about our materials and making in our FAQ)
Here are some of the considerations we have been thinking about:
- Is the material eco-friendly itself? For example is it organic, is it recycled materials such as recycled polyester? Can we upcycle fabric products?
- Is it made ethically? Where was it made and what are the conditions there? Do we believe what the supplier is saying?
- Has it come from far away? What is the environmental footprint?
- Will it work as gift wrap? For example does it fold nicely, feel good, is not too transparent?
- Will it be distinct in the market?
But then you get into the practicalities of also trying to create a sustainable business, which adds the other layers of consideration:
- Can we make products at a price people will actually pay? This seriously scraps most eco-friendly fabric
- Can we source it in an incremental way that means we don't need to over-invest in one particular colour or pattern? For example, can we order 10m rather than 1000m? This seriously scraps a bunch of other eco-friendly options.
- Can we make it in a cost-effective and repeatable way? For a long time we have considered if we could use waste clothing to make wraps (using waste material is our nirvana!), but this consideration makes that tricky.
Here are some excellent sources we have found to help inform and direct us in our search for the ideal eco-friendly fabrics so far:
How To Choose The Most Eco-Friendly Fabric For Your Garment - by the most excellent Common Objective, who are working to help make fashion more sustainable
A guide to Sustainable Fabrics - by Good on You
A wealth of information on sourcing more sustainable textiles - by the Textile Exchange
Excellent opportunities to learn and connect with others about sustainable and fair fashion - Fashion Revolution
The hunt for eco-friendly fabric is rarely straightforward, and always involves weighing different considerations. This statement from Common Objectives really rings true:
"80% of a product’s environmental footprint is decided at the design stage"
It is certainly true for us as we are re-thinking our design constantly (in the background). Our solution so far has been to add vintage scarves to our range and to source locally from markets minimise the environmental footprint in terms of travel miles. And to phase out the synthetics we use, such as satin, in our wraps. We're delighted we have now found eco-friendly satin ribbons! Behind the scenes we are working to achieve our nirvana - a totally zero waste wrap.
For now, by our calculation, the average household uses around 4 rolls of gift wrap a year, so in just two years of "good wrapping" be it with fabric gift wrapping or creative upcycling, you will save 40m of wrapping paper. In the UK we use around 8,000 tonnes of paper for gift wrapping. Each of those tonnes = 6 mature trees, making it about 50,000 trees used every year just for gift wrapping. Imagine the difference if we all started doing good wrapping? If just 1 in 5 of us made a different choice we could save 10,000 trees.