Fabrics suitable for a vegan lifestyle include:
Acrylic (manmade – often used for knitted items)
Bamboo (an eco-friendly option as bamboo grows quickly and gives out 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere)
Cashmilon (a faux alternative to Cashmere – a supersoft yarn made from acrylic)
Chenille (refers to the type of weave and can be made from cotton, acrylic or rayon)
Cotton* (including some batiste fabrics, calico, cambric, canvas, flannel, denim, moleskin, muslin, percale, sateen, towelling and velour)
Hemp (an eco-friendly option as it grows rapidly, is naturally pest resistant and has multiple uses)
Jute (another great one for the environment as it’s fast growing and biodegradable)
Linen (made from Flax – including cambric and towelling)
Lyocell (made from wood to make mock suede, satin and silk)
Nettle fabric (used for 2000 years and coming back into fashion, it’s also an environmental gem as it grows well and is disease and pest resistant)
Nylon (manmade, but with a carbon footprint lower than that of wool)
Pleather (also known as leatherette or faux leather is a clever leather lookalike made from cotton and PU)
Polar fleece / microfiber (made from polyester or nylon)
Polyester (synthetic man-made fibres including velour)
Rayon (this can be made more sustainably, out of corn, than polyester)
Satin (made from polyester and rayon)
‘peace silk’ (made after the mulberry worms have left the cocoon)
Soya fabric (made from the residue of the tofu making process and very economical and environmentally friendly)
Velcro, viscose and voile
Velvet (originally made of silk, now made from any number of either natural or synthetic fibers)
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Just because a clothing product hasn’t been made from an animal doesn’t mean it’s entirely cruelty-free, as we’re all aware of products being manufactured by humans living (and dying) in appalling conditions. Buying fair-trade clothing and avoiding purchase from origins where you suspect human rights abuse is something you may wish to consider too.
Increasing demand for shell to make buttons and jewellery etc is leading to mass extinctions of certain mollusk species, as well as environmental destruction and imbalance. The shell industry does provide subsistence and food for certain remote communities however, so this may be a product you wish to investigate further before deciding whether or not to purchase.
Cotton growing uses the highest proportion of pesticides of all crops in the world, so where possible / affordable organic cotton is a much more environmentally-friendly choice. Additional environmental certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and Ecocert are good to look out for too.
You may also wish to avoid fabrics such as polyester and polar fleece as they’re derived from petroleum, and the extraction of this from the land does have a negative environmental impact.