What makes Linens Sustainable?
There is way to have beautiful linens that are also good for the environment. In this post, we explain what to look for when procuring ethically-made and sustainable textiles for the home.
Did you know that the average American consumer tosses an average of 80 pounds of textile garbage each year? And textile waste the second largest polluter of the environment after the coal industry? We got those stats from, Woollygreen, a think tank that collects all sorts of statistics on textiles. Did you also know that many linen and fashion brands produce their products abroad, leading to overuse of transportation, unfair living wages, and abuse of resources? Many common items are produced with fabrics that aren't 100% natural or biodegradable. Whatever your position on the environment, I hope there is agreement that these common behaviors and practice should be reconsidered and that sustainable products - those that are good to people and the environment - should be top of mind when purchasing textiles.
There is a better way to design, make, and purchase luxury linens. Here are things to consider when shopping:
1. Buy Less But Buy Better
Buying less but better means buying for longevity, which promotes sustainability over time. Products that last are those made from premium natural materials, are often artisan or small-batch produced, and with a focus on utility. Living with products like this means you don't have to replace, rebuy and generally participate in the cycle of buy-use-toss your textiles. Linens that have been made through sustainable practices are often the same linens that last the longest.Think about the head space, time, and stress that would simply vanish, not to mention the extra cash you would have to use on other things. The psychology of shopping wants to buy new things, but this urge in the long run is not always the best use of time or money.
2. Check Fabric Content
You can tell a lot about a product by what it's made from. Sustainable linens are those that are made from 100% natural materials where thread fibers have been farmed. This is important for a few reasons. First, natural fabrics like linen, cotton, wool, and silk come from renewable sources. Fibers from these are farmed, and so can be grown again and again. Also, within these natural fabrics there are distinctive differences that affect their sustainability. Look for organic cottons which use much less pesticides and water than regular cotton or, better yet, opt for linen over cotton which uses less water and soil to grow. Secondly, these products are bio-degradable so they will breakdown naturally. In the landfill, not harsh treatments are needed to help these products breakdown do they are kinder to the environment. Something else to check is the origin of the fiber. Selecting products with fiber content grown locally in the USA is going to be more sustainable. Why? Because transportation resources will be saved and labor resources will stay local.
3. Check Made in
Sustainability isn't only about protecting the environment, there is the human cost also. Where an item is made can gives some clues about safe and fair working conditions for sewists. In Western countries, we are generally better regulated to protect workers from these conditions. Over time, these sweat shops erode human capital and local communities. Buy made in America whenever possible.
4. Check Price
Products made fair-trade and sustainable are a little more expensive. If you see something that is too good to be true in terms of price or how it looks on the shelf, let that be a warning that corners were probably cut to make it so. Price is an indication of value and quality over time. How many times have you purchased something inexpensive that looked wonderful for about 3 months, and then needed to be replaced? Over time, purchasing your textiles that way becomes very costly.
5. Check the Company
Sustainable manufacturers are often very forthright in their philosophy and want consumers to know and understand their focus on doing good. Manufacturers who don't are much less open. Let that also be a clue when deciding on who to do business with. Often times, you can read about sustainability right on the product page or hang tag. These messages are very helpful when assessing out sustainable products.
So that is our top 5 suggestions on finding the very best sustainable linens. To read more about our sustainability measures, click here.