Incredibly abundant, easily recyclable and with clean production widespread, low-impact aluminum is already available in many industries. Unfortunately, the outdoor industry is not yet one of them.
All the benefits of conventional synthetics without the dependency on fossil fuels? Or, all the impacts of natural fibers without many of their sustainability benefits? Too early to say.
Viscose, Rayon, Lyocell – there’s many names for these semisynthetic plant-based fibers, and many more methods to manufacture them. This makes impact generalizations difficult.
Cotton and Organic Cotton
Natural, renewable, recyclable – cotton has the potential to be an excellent choice for sustainable apparel. But conventional cotton’s chemical inputs are enormous relative to other fibers, meaning its potential is only realized with organic practices.
A natural, recyclable and biodegradable material with incredible thermal and compression values, down is almost too good to be true – were it not for animal welfare issues.
When compared to other natural fibers in terms of water and chemicals inputs as well as durability, hemp’s sustainability credentials are unmatched – but can it prove it?
The incredible durability and repairability of leather results in a lifespan measured in decades. When properly sourced, it can also be humane and have a low environmental impact.
A blend of polyester and cotton – a match made in heaven say some as the two fibers can have complimentary sustainability profiles. End-of-life recycling? Not quite yet.
The oldest synthetic fiber and one of the most durable, properly sourced Nylon fiber’s sustainability potential is promising – if recycling becomes widespread.
With virtually no land, water, animal, or agrochemical impacts, polyester has always been a low-impact material. Recycled polyester takes this a step further – but still has its challenges.
Materials with dramatically lower impacts than leather and no animal welfare issues, vegan leathers are in demand. But can they match leather’s durability?
A natural fiber with characteristics synthetics still can’t match, properly sourced wool’s sustainability credentials can make it a true wonder material – if it can reduce its climate impacts.