Sourcing Ethical Fabrics for the Hobbyist
The internet is a valuable source for ethical materials of all kinds. There are two websites that stand out:
- You may already know about Etsy for finding handmade items. It is also a resource for purchasing crafting materials. A keyword search on Etsy for organic fabrics will yield pages of organic cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo fabrics to be purchased by the yard or in fat quarters.
Vintage fabric is also found on Etsy. Amounts, of course, are limited and there is no reordering
- Another great internet source for vintage and organic fabric is Ebay. Of course sellers on Ebay, as well as Etsy, are comprised of a mixture of individuals and retailers.
Shop thrift stores, you never know what kind of treasure you will find. There are thrift stores that specialize only in crafting material.
Online fabric stores that only sell organic and fairtrade items are a recent development. A few years ago, these were impossible to find. Demand for more sustainable choices has created a flood of full service organic fabric stores.
Do your research. Become familiar with brands that are certified ethical and the retailers that sell them.
Sourcing Ethical Fabric For the Small Business or Home Business
Buy deadstock fabric. This is extra fabric that has been leftover by a manufacturer, wholesaler or a designer. Not to be confused with factory seconds, deadstock is quality fabric that was not used due to a variety of reasons.
Recycled fabrics are a sustainable alternative and are readily available from websites.
There is a new technology that uses discarded cotton clothing and disposable nonwoven items that have been cleaned and shredded, and combines this with sustainably grown new wood pulp or Lyocell to make a new fabric.
Recycled polyester is a sustainable product that comes from bottles and discarded polyester clothing. Recycling polyester uses less energy and water than manufacturing virgin polyester. Plastic bottles and polyester are a perfect candidate for recycling because they can be recycled again and again.
How to Recognize Ethical Fabric
Whether you sew as a hobby or you own a small, home-based design business, there are ways to identify ethically sourced and organic fabrics. Here are a few certification tags to look for.
The GOTS Certified label stands for Global Organic Textile Standard. A GOTS certification ensures textiles are made from organic fibers and any chemicals used on the fiber, such as dyes, meet environmental standards.
The Bluesign certification guarantees transparency and traceability in all aspects of the supply and manufacturing chain.
A Naturland certification denotes fair trade, social responsibility and organic farming on a regional level as well as worldwide.
Fairtrade International and Fairtrade America ensures a fair living wage and improved working conditions to all workers in all steps of the manufacturing chain.
OEKO-TEX ensures all fabrics and accessories that carry their certification are tested and approved for containing no harmful substances. They also ensure socially responsible and environmentally friendly workplaces.