As more people devote themselves to veganism, more alternatives to traditional materials such as wool and silk are in demand. PETA can sometimes be a bit radical and desensitise scenes cruelty by promoting the watch of 'secret filming' but I still enjoy some of their content. I found a couple of articles that give suggestions on how to swap out what they consider unethical materials.
alternatives to wool
1. Organic Cotton
Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals and doesn’t destroy ecosystems. In fact, it’s known to improve soil quality and often uses less water. Like other vegan fabrics, organic cotton is easier to clean than wool, faster drying, and softer to the touch.
Linen is a durable material that becomes softer and stronger the more that it’s used. Vegan fabrics such as linen can absorb up to 20 percent of its weight in moisture before it feels damp. Unlike wool, which takes a long time to dry, linen easily releases moisture into the air, which keeps you cool. In addition, it is non-allergenic, and requires considerably fewer pesticides and fertilizers than other crops and is both recyclable and biodegradable.
That’s right: seaweed! Dried seaweed is crushed coarsely, ground, and simultaneously introduced into cellulose fiber, from which materials for a wide variety of textiles, known as SeaCell, are manufactured. Brown algae used in this material supposedly activate cell regeneration, re-mineralize skin, limit inflammation, soothe itchiness (take that, itchy wool!) and detoxify the body. The porous structure of the SeaCell textile fibers promotes humidity intake and release, which keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We love this soft, comfortable SeaCell Modal Blend Tank by Boss.
Lyocell is the general term for a material made from wood pulp that’s manufactured by means of an environmentally friendly process that reuses processing chemicals. It’s also biodegradable, recyclable, and naturally wrinkle-free. A great substitute for silk, Lycocell is soft, drapes well, and can be washed, dyed, and even woven to mimic the qualities of suede, leather, moleskin, or wool.
5. Beech Tree Fiber
Modal is a variety of rayon, made exclusively from the renewable fiber of beech trees. Since the base material comes from a natural source, rayon fibers such as modal are sometimes classified as a “natural synthetic.” Fabric made from modal is very soft and smooth, with a moderate to high sheen. The original “artificial silk,” it is soft, drapes well, and dyes easily. Unlike wool, it does not need to be ironed and retains its shape, size, and strength even after repeated washings. (Water structurally weakens wool.)
Hemp grows without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, making it ideal for organic farming. The plant’s roots can descend 3 feet or more into the ground, thereby anchoring and protecting soil from runoff while building and preserving topsoil and subsoil structures. Hemp is also completely biodegradable. It is similar to linen in feel and breathability, unlike wool, which traps heat and can support the growth of bacteria.
Soy fabric, also known as “vegetable cashmere” is a new eco-friendly fabric made from a byproduct of soybean processing. It has the softness and luster of silk, the drape and durability of cotton, and the warmth and comfort of cashmere. The material is free of any petrochemicals, and, most importantly, does not involve the abuse of sheep. Fashion insiders call the process in which materials come from the Earth and are wholly biodegradable a “cradle-to-cradle” approach. We appreciate KD New York’s cozy, flowing designs that are suitable for both work and yoga class!
Another eco-friendly option is rPET, which stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Also simply called “recycled polyester,” it’s a member of the polyester family and refers to the plastic bottles used for water and soda. When you put a bottle in the recycle bin, it may be turned into a polyester fiber of some kind, or something else entirely. Unlike wool, it’s soft to the touch and won’t have you scratching your neck around the collar.
- (PETA, 2017)
How to wear vegan clothing
Vegan Materials: cotton, linen, polyester fleece, acrylic, cotton flannel, synthetic fabrics
What to Avoid: wool, Angora, pashmina, cashmere, shearling, camel hair, mohair, silk, alpaca
Vegan Materials: nylon, polyester, cotton rayon
What to Avoid: silk
Vegan Materials: denim, cotton, twill, polyester, linen, microfibers, nylon, acrylic, polyester, rayon
What to Avoid: wool, silk
Vegan Materials: cotton, nylon, polyester, polyester fleece, faux fur, synthetic down, down alternative, PrimaLoft, Thinsulate, Gore-Tex, Polartec Wind Pro, Thermolite
What to Avoid: wool, fleece, down, fur, fur trime
Vegan Materials: man-made leather, all man made materials, pleather, synthetic materials, cotton, canvas
What to Avoid: leather, suede, alligator skin, snakeskin, kangaroo
purses & wallets
Vegan Materials: man-made leather, all man-made materials, pleather, synthetic materials
What to Avoid: leather, suede, snakeskin
Vegan Materials: nylon, polyester, rayon, cotton, microfiber
What to Avoid: silk
Vegan Materials: polyester fleece, acrylic, cotton, jersey, linen
What to Avoid: Angora, pashmina, cashmere, shearling, camel hair, mohair, alpaca
- (Features.peta.org, 2017)
I find myself often confused by some of these vegan alternatives, as although they prevent harm directly to animals, the petroleum-based alternatives will inflict harm onto the environment, which is indirectly harming animals. It's tricky sometimes, and I ask myself how far does this delve before it becomes impossible and unfeasible to chose this lifestyle. I am more interested in the 'cradle to cradle' natural alternatives than the man-made ones currently, but I will need to investigate more of these alternatives to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both.
PETA. (2017). Vegan Fabrics Are Way Better Than Wool—Here's Why. [online] Available at: http://www.peta.org/living/fashion/natural-vegan-fabrics/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2017].
Features.peta.org. (2017). How to Wear Vegan Clothes and Vegan Shoes | PETA.org. [online] Available at: http://features.peta.org/how-to-wear-vegan/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2017].
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