Synthetic materials emit 706+ billion kg of CO2 yearly. This fall, we’re investing in natural materials and sustainable sweaters that make a more positive impact than plastic-based materials.
| All products featured on The Wellness Feed are independently selected by our editors for their environmental and ethical impact. However, we may earn an affiliate commission when you buy something through our retail links. |
How can we prepare for the cooler weather and update our wardrobes sustainably? One easy way, aside from supporting sustainable brands, is to choose our fabrics wisely. Did you know that in 2015 330 million barrels of oil were used to make polyester textiles? That same year polyester production resulted in 706 billion kg of CO2 being emitted. Being plastic-based, non-biodegradable, and taking up to 200 years to decompose, are other environmental concerns of polyester. So, while we might like the look of that crewneck sweater, it might not be a bad idea to leave it at the checkout counter and shop for eco-friendly materials instead.
Plant-based materials – linen, cotton, and Tencel- degrade naturally and are ideal to look for when shopping for sustainable sweaters. Wools that have been sustainably sourced (when animals are not harmed and enjoy a high-quality life) from animals like sheep and llamas are another option. When treated properly (without harmful dyes or chemicals) these materials have many benefits to the environment and to you as well. Wool helps to moderate body temperatures. Even though sheep emit CO2, it’s considerably less when compared to polyester production.
If you’re seeking cozy pieces to update your wardrobe, we hope you’ll be inspired by these sustainable sweaters crafted from natural, eco-loving fabrics, made to last and be worn for years to come.
Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) Wool
Since 2016, the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) has worked with farmers, manufacturers, and brands to protect animal welfare, the health and safety of workers across supply chains, and the soil and native plants. In order for a product to have this certification, all parties involved in the production process- from the farmer to the retailer- must be vetted that they meet the requirements.
“The RWS requires all sites, from wool farmers to the seller in the final business-to-business transaction, to be certified. RWS farmers and ranchers must meet animal welfare, land management, and social requirements.”
Environmental impact: All of these sweaters are knit from RWS-certified wool. This natural fiber comes from the fleece of sheep and is a natural insulator that regulates temperatures. It can also hold 30% of its weight in water before it feels ‘wet’. And, because it’s a natural fiber, it’s also biodegradable.
Traditional techniques such as hand looms that don’t require carbon emissions are used to make some of these sweaters. As certified B-Corps, partners of the World Fair Trade Organization, and advocates for living wages customers can rest assured that principles like fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmental practices by these companies.
Cashmere & Alpaca
Alpaca and cashmere are luxury wools both renowned for their softness, durability, and silkiness. Sweaters from these materials are also known for becoming softer with age. While alpaca goats are native to South America, cashmere goats are from Mongolia, Nepal, and Kashmir. Some sustainable brands source these wools directly from herders, family-owned farms, and local artisans who have been knitting with alpaca and cashmere for generations. Other brands source recycled cashmere in an effort to reduce waste, while still enjoying these luxurious materials.
Environmental impact: With a deep understanding of how our shopping decisions are impacting the environment, these sweaters are made to last. That begins with working with reputable partners, such as family-owned Peruvian producers and Fair Trade Factories. The animals spend days gently grazing along the highlands and are considered to require fewer resources (water, food) than sheep.
Organic, Regenerative, Or Recycled Cotton
Conventional cotton has a lot of environmental and social issues. Regenerative, organic, and recycled are solutions that are focused on these issues. Regenerative cotton ensures that soil and biodiversity are protected during the farming process. Organic cotton is grown without pesticides and other chemicals. Recycled cotton is used to reduce waste and embrace circularity.
Environmental Impact: Many of these sustainable sweaters are made from organic cotton. When compared to conventional cotton, organic cotton uses up to 89% less water and 62% less energy. It also doesn’t rely on pesticides or chemicals to grow. Recycled cotton is yarn made from fabric scraps from another garment and would have been thrown out if not used in this garment. This also saves water, land, and other resources that are needed to produce new cotton plants for garments.
“The process of recycling can divert many products from landfills. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, annual textile waste is estimated to equal 25 billion pounds.” ~ Cotton Works