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Eco Fabric Glossary

Eco Fabric Glossary

April 06, 2012

in Articles, General

Eco Fabric Glossary – A handy reference guide to help you source eco friendly, natural and organic fabrics easily. Scroll down page to view guide.


Fabric Description
Abaca This banana species plant is grown to use the fibers of the stem and large leaves in textiles and clothing. It is considered a sustainable alternative to cotton.
Alpaca (Organic) An absolute super fabric, wool from free range Alpaca that is hormone and chemical treatment free and fed on organically managed pastures has countless benefits. It’s fine and smooth, more than cashmere and silk; soft and warm, more than cotton and goose down; strong and breathable, more than mohair and thermal knits. Alpaca wool fabric has no oils, is hypoallergenic and naturally fire and dust mite resistant. It is best to use Alpaca wool that is left natural (not dyed) (the colours range from almost pure white to browns, grays and black) in order to further decrease the amount of chemicals used.
Angora Fabric woven from the hair of the Angora goat or the Angora rabbit (from Asia Minor and Turkey), also called Angora mohair. The rabbit fur is long and fluffy, light weight and surprisingly very warm. Both types of angora are also strong and resilient and valued for their luster as opposed to softness. Often angora is mixed together with wool to keep the cost reasonable. Clothing containing angora rabbit fur must be labeled with that information, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Bamboo Because this plant grows so quickly and without the need for fertilization or pesticides, it’s considered a stellar renewable resource. Besides many other things, bamboo is used to make biodegradable fabric.
Cottagora A mixture of Angora rabbit hair and organic cotton, this fabric is extremely soft, versatile and wrinkle resistant. It can also be put through the washing machine and the dryer. Touted as the warmest natural fiber on the market, Cottagora is truly durable and breathable and allows your body to maintain a comfortable, natural temperature.  
Cotton (Organic) This plant can be grown organically by avoiding the use of defoliants, soil additives and toxic synthetic fertilizers. It’s grown, harvested and woven without the use of chemicals. Sustainable practices such as crop rotation are used to produce a healthy, organic plant instead of the toxic processes used to grow conventional cotton. 
– Fiber Reactive
The molecules of this dye will react and bond to the molecules of the fiber, creating a bright, rich tone. They are synthetic, but have no heavy metals or other known toxins. Only a small amount of residual dye will be seen in wash water. More expensive than conventional dyes, these are much more eco friendly and worth the investment. 
– Low Impact
Used on organic cotton and many other fabrics, these dyes contain no metals and are low salt, AZO & dioxazines compound free. Much less water is used in the dying process, meaning less pollution in the water www.global-standard.org
Hemp An extremely durable, dark brown or tan fibre is harvested from this plant that is naturally pest and insect resistant. It is grown without chemical pesticides and has a wonderful way of actually fertilizing the soil with its spent leaves. This natural process means that Hemp will not exhaust the soil. Fabric from hemp can be dyed bright or dark colours, is UV resistant and biodegradable.
Inego Touted as the first all natural man-made fibre, Inego has a corn base and is made from naturally grown, sustainable sources. It’s also biodegradable, has great moisture wicking (channels perspiration away from the body) ability and doesn’t hold in odors.
Modal A new player on the fabric market, Modal works well in towels and linen as well as clothing. Made from the wood chips of the beech tree, it’s often combined with cotton and can be dyed easily.
Mohair see Angora
Recycled clothing A term that is quickly catching on, recycled clothing is formed by:

a) fashion designers and manufacturers using remnants, off-cuts or old, previously worn/used fabrics to create new clothing.

b) passing along your hand-me-downs and shopping at second hand shops.

SeaCell Made from a combination of Lyocell and seaweed, Seacell originated in Germany and has had the Eco-Label in Europe for years. Lyocell consists of 100% wood pulp fibers and SeaCell combines that with approximately 5% seaweed. Reportedly the nutritional and health benefits of seaweed are actually absorbed into your body while you wear this fabric. It’s available in either “Pure” or “Active” grades. “Active” includes silver woven or embedded throughout, giving it antibacterial properties and the ability to naturally neutralize odors.
Sorona Manufactured by Du Pont, Sorona is made from 37% renewable resources. Containing agricultural feed instead of petroleum, this product is often used in carpets.
Soybean fibre Besides being a renewable resource, the soybean fibre that is used to make “vegetable cashmere” is also a by-product of food manufacturing.
Second Hand clothing This constitutes clothing and linens that are reused or made into new garments. Good examples are old wool socks being made into baby leggings or hand-me-down clothes. Also known as recycled clothing.
Tencel This is the trade name for Lyocell, which is used in SeaCell among other things. It’s made from wood pulp that is spun into a fiber using energy efficient and low impact methods. The pulp originates from tree farms grown on agriculturally unsuitable land. Tencel is sometimes mixed with other fibres that may make it less eco friendly.
Vintage clothing Vintage Clothing – This term applies to second hand or previously worn clothing from the period between the 1920’s and the 1980’s. If the clothing predates the 20’s it is considered antique. If it hasn’t been previously worn but was still made in those seven decades, the piece would still be labeled as vintage.