various textiles and color palletes are organized on top of a table
Photo: Karolina Grabowska

In the era of conscious consumerism, where environmental impact takes one of the major stages, the fashion industry is finally undergoing a remarkable transformation. Eco-fashion, with its emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices, is no longer a niche trend, but a mainstream movement.

At the heart of this movement lies the concept of a capsule wardrobe, a curated collection of essential pieces that are both stylish and sustainable. This approach to fashion promotes mindful consumption, reduces waste, and minimizes one's environmental footprint. Here's your guide on how to build a capsule wardrobe using sustainable fabrics.

What Are the Main Benefits of Using Eco-Friendly Fabrics for Your Clothing?

Choosing eco-friendly fabrics for clothing offers a large number of benefits that extend beyond personal style. Such fabrics, like organic cotton or hemp, significantly reduce environmental impact. They're cultivated using sustainable farming practices, minimizing water usage, eliminating toxic pesticides, and promoting soil health.

The utilization of recycled materials, such as polyester or nylon, diminishes the demand for virgin, raw resources. It also curtails energy consumption and diverts waste from landfills. Recycled synthetic fabrics often exhibit exceptional durability, enhancing the lifespan of clothing. Ultimately resulting in the minimization of the overall carbon footprint of one's wardrobe.

collage with two images: eco-friendly textile and woman's hand holding yarn

What Clothing Materials Are Most Sustainable?

Of course, determining the "most" sustainable clothing material can be complex as sustainability involves various factors like environmental impact, social responsibility, durability, and end-of-life considerations. However, several materials are often considered more sustainable due to their production processes and characteristics:

  • 1. Organic Cotton:

Grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, organic cotton relies on natural methods like crop rotation, intercropping, and biological pest control. It involves planting non-GMO seeds and using organic fertilizers. It conserves water through techniques like rainwater harvesting and reduced irrigation. Harvesting is typically done by hand to prevent damage to the fibers.

  • 2. Burlap:

Burlap fabric (also known as hessian,) is made from a jute plant. The white jute, a rain-fed crop, is harvested for its long, shiny fibers. The fibers are extracted by retting, a process where the stems are soaked in water to separate the fibers from the non-fibrous material. The fibers are then spun into yarn and woven into burlap fabric.

  • 3. Hemp:

Hemp fibers are extracted from the stalks of the hemp plant through a process called retting, where the stems are soaked to break down the natural glues holding the fibers together. This can be done through water retting (submerging in water) or dew retting (spread on the field for natural moisture exposure). Fibers are then separated, spun into yarn, and woven into fabric.

collage with two images: cotton flowers and organic cotton yarn

  • 4. Tencel (Lyocell):

Tencel is made from wood pulp, often sourced from eucalyptus trees. The wood pulp undergoes a solvent-spinning process in a closed-loop system, where the solvents used to break down the pulp are almost entirely recovered and reused. The resulting fibers are then spun into yarn and woven into fabric.

  • 5. Bamboo:

Bamboo fabric is made through a chemical process involving breaking bamboo pulp into fibers using chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. The resulting cellulose is then spun into fibers and woven into fabric. While bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires minimal water and no pesticides, the chemical processing methods raise concerns about the environmental impact.

  • 6. Linen:

Linen is made of flax plant fibers. They are pulled up by the roots to preserve the full length of the fibers. The stalks undergo a process called retting, where they are soaked to separate the fibers. After drying, the fibers are spun into yarn and woven into fabric.

collage with two images: linen flower and organic linen yarn

  • 7. Recycled Polyester:

Recycled polyester is produced by collecting post-consumer plastic bottles or textile waste, which are cleaned, sorted, and processed into chips or pellets. These pellets are then melted, extruded into fibers, spun into yarn, and woven into fabric, reducing the need for virgin polyester production.

  • 8. Pinatex:

Pinatex or pineapple leather utilizes pineapple leaves, a byproduct of the agriculture industry. The leaves undergo a process of decortication to extract the fibers, which are then degummed, carded, and pressed into a non-woven mesh. This material is then treated and finished to create a leather-like fabric.

  • 9. Soy Silk:

Soy silk is made from the byproducts of soybean processing, such as soy protein. The protein is extracted, spun into fibers, and then woven into fabric. The process involves using less energy and water compared to conventional fabric production.

  • 10. Cork Fabric:

Cork fabric is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees without cutting down the trees. The bark is carefully stripped off, and the cork regenerates over time after harvesting. The cork bark is processed into thin sheets and then laminated onto a fabric backing to create a durable and water-resistant material.

collage with a stack of sweaters and knitted chunky texture

What Can We Do to Support Sustainable Fashion?

There are a few low-key, but still very things we all can do to support the sustainable fashion movement. For instance, we all can:

‣ Buy clothes from sustainable brands: There are many great sustainable brands out there. Before making your next capsule wardrobe purchase, do some research. This will help you to pick a brand that matches your values.

‣ Shop at thrift stores and consignment shops: Thrifting and consignment shopping are great ways to find sustainable clothing.

‣ Take care of your clothes: The best way to reduce your environmental impact is to take care of your clothes and make them last.

‣ Donate or recycle old clothes: Don't just throw away your old clothes. Instead, pick the best pieces to donate to thrift stores or charities. Some fabrics can be recycled, revealing the second change in fashion life.

‣ Quality over quantity: Invest in quality pieces that endure beyond fleeting fashion seasons. Sustainable fabrics often boast superior durability, ensuring longevity.


A capsule wardrobe built on sustainable fabrics represents a conscious choice towards a more ethical and eco-friendly approach to fashion. By embracing quality over quantity, choosing timeless pieces made from eco-conscious materials, and supporting ethical brands, we all can significantly reduce our fashion footprint while maintaining a stylish and versatile wardrobe. With each intentional clothing purchase, we contribute to a more sustainable future – one garment at a time.

Lots of love,