Ultimate Ethical & Sustainable Home Guide

This is the most in-depth guide on ethical and sustainable home & garden even for beginners! #sustainablehomedecor #ethicalhomedecor #ethicaltextiles

Last Updated on

“The solutions are not black and white, it’s more like a balancing act of trade-offs.”

Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor

Ethical Home FAQ

What is a sustainable textile?

A sustainable textile is a textile that was sourced and manufactured without harming the environment with toxins, chemicals, or unsustainable agriculture and production practices. Below are guidelines on the best sustainable textiles to look for.

The two main types of fibers and textiles used in garment production:

Natural fabrics: fabricsmade from animal or plant-based fibers. These fibers break down easily and are therefore compostable (but not all natural fabrics are ethical and sustainable!).

  • cotton, hemp, or linen – should be certified organic so it doesn’t pollute the environment
  • rayon – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • tencel – should be certified created sustainably in a closed-loop system
  • bamboo – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • modal – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • wool or alpaca – should be certified organic; vegans can try secondhand materials
  • silk – should be certified organic; vegans can try secondhand materials

Synthetic fabrics: man-made fabrics that don’t come from any natural fibers.

  • polyester
  • nylon
  • spandex
  • acrylic

Whether your textile is made from “natural” or “synthetic” materials, here are some general tips:

  • avoid purchasing new textiles made from synthetic fabrics
  • avoid sending textiles to landfill unless absolutely necessary

What does “ethical” mean in textiles?

When we talk about “ethical” in the textile world, we are looking for textiles that are:

  1. Produced in a way that doesn’t harm or exploit people and/or animals
    • thriving and dignified work conditions & wages
    • support of traditional skills
    • cruelty-free products (no animal testing)
  2. Produced with a minimum impact on the planet
    • less or no pollution
    • less waste
    • less resources used
    • natural textiles and materials
    • low-carbon footprint
    • non-toxic dyes
    • recycled materials
    • organic & natural
    • thoughtfully packaged
    • thoughtful waste & resource management
    • and more
  3. Produced with ethical intentions (think “people over money”)

Here is a big list of ethical labels and certifications that can help you find ethical textiles.

If you just want to browse ethical textile companies, you can do so through our directory.

What is the difference between ethical and sustainable textiles?

Ethical textiles are produced with ethical intentions put into minimizing harm to humans, animals, and the environment.

Sustainable textiles are produced with a focused intention to minimizes environmental harm.

What is the most environmentally friendly and ethical fabric?

There is no 100% ethical & sustainable fabric because no brand is perfect.

Luckily, there are many brands that are somewhere on the spectrum of ethical practices that align with YOUR values!

To help you find the most environmentally friendly and ethical fabrics, check out our big directory for ethical living.

You also might find this big list of ethical labels and certifications helpful, too.

If you want to find and research ethical brands by yourself, we have a guide on that! The whole process can take as little as 5 minutes.

Here is a quick summary of environmentally friendly and ethical fabric options:

  • cotton, hemp, or linen – should be certified organic so it doesn’t pollute the environment
  • rayon – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • Tencel – should be certified created sustainably in a closed-loop system
  • bamboo – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • modal – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
  • wool or alpaca – should be certified organic; vegans can try secondhand materials
  • silk – should be certified organic; vegans can try secondhand materials

What are the worst fabrics for the environment?

The eco-friendliness of a fabric is determined by the total environmental impact from producing and processing the fabrics.

Even natural fabrics can be horrible for the environment if they are not sustainably produced.

Below are the worst fabrics for the environment:

  • Nylon & polyester – Made from petrochemicals, these synthetics are non-biodegradable as well, so they are inherently unsustainable
  • Rayon (“viscose”) – An artificial fiber made from wood pulp. Many forests are cleared and many farmers are displaced for the production of pulpwood plantations. The wood pulp is treated with hazardous chemicals such as caustic soda and sulphuric acid.
  • Inorganic Cotton – The most pesticide intensive crop in the world that injures and kill many people every year. Cotton also takes up a large proportion of agricultural land, much of which is needed by local people to grow their own food.
  • Polycotton, ‘easy care’, ‘crease resistant’, and ‘permanent press’ cotton – Are treated with toxic formaldehyde (also used for flameproofing nylon).
  • Wool – Exposes agricultural and craft workers to nerve poisons like organophosphate sheep dip.
  • Bleached Fabrics – Uses dioxin-producing chlorine compounds which pollutes the environment with toxic compounds.
  • Some Dyed Fabrics – Dyeing fabrics requires huge amounts of water and can end up colouring the rivers, as treatment plants fail to remove them from the water. Dye fixatives – often heavy metals – also end up in sewers and then rivers.
  • Leather – Requires pollution-heavy tanning and dyeing processes, intensive farming impacts, and is involved in animal rights issues.
  • Fabrics that use glues or other harmful solvents – They stick plastic coatings to some waterproof fabrics but are environmentally harmful and involve unsustainable production.

Where can I buy ethically made fabric?

We’ve compiled a big directory of ethical living brands here!

If you want to do a little more research, check out our guide on how to find and research ethical brands in as little as 5 minutes.

We also have a big list of ethical labels and certifications that can help you identify ethical fabrics.

These resources are constantly updated, so check back often!

What makes a cleaning product eco-friendly?

Eco-friendly cleaning products clean your home naturally without chemical residue that can harm your family and your pets.

No one wants chemicals absorbed into the skin, breathed in, or posing other risks.

But we also want to help reduce pollution to our waterways and air.

Eco-friendly cleaning products minimize your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change because they use fewer (or zero) smog-producing chemicals.

When looking for eco-friendly cleaning products, you want to look for:

  • products made from sustainable manufacturing practices
  • products that are made from natural, safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable ingredients that don’t negatively affect the environment or your own health

What are the best green cleaning products?

There is no 100% ethical & sustainable green cleaning product because no brand is perfect.

However, there are many brands that are somewhere on the spectrum of ethical practices that align with YOUR values!

To help you find the most environmentally friendly and ethical cleaning products, check out our big directory of ethical living brands.

You also might find this big list of ethical labels and certifications helpful, too. Many ethical labels and certifications have their own verified brand directories.

If you want to find and research ethical brands by yourself, we have a guide on that! The whole process can take as little as 5 minutes.

Simple Guide To An Ethical Home

  • Check our ethical living directory for sustainable and ethical furniture, cleaning products, and other home goods
  • Buy organic and eco-friendly textiles when possible
  • Invest in consciously made furniture
  • Before purchasing any item, imagine where it will live in your home and how long it will last
  • Where possible, try to buy furniture and homeware that is secondhand or made from up-cycled materials
  • Buy textiles that are sourced from ethical materials. This includes:
    • Natural materials – like ethical wool or alpaca – that will naturally biodegrade
    • Certified organic – like organic cotton, hemp, or linen – that doesn’t pollute the environment
    • Certified created sustainably in a closed-loop system – like Tencel (this means that instead of dumping the toxic waste, the company is actually keeping it inside the factory, treating and reusing it)
    • Materials like bamboo and modal are better than full synthetics but aren’t the best materials on the market, so choose them only if there are no better alternatives.
  • Buy textiles that are sourced from ethical dyes. This includes:
    • Non-toxic dyes
    • Water-based dyes
    • Natural dyes made from plants
    • Dyes with no toxic chemicals released into waterways during production
  • Try to purchase homeware from smaller artisans, designers, and makers. This supports small businesses and avoids human exploitation. Here are some places to buy ethical homeware.
  • Avoid plastic, especially in the kitchen.
    • Try stainless steel Tupperware
    • Wax wraps instead of cling film
    • Ceramic or metal baking supplies instead of plastic
    • Recycled toilet paper, paper towel, tissues packaged in paper
  • Make your own eco-friendly and ethical cleaning products
  • Avoid dry cleaning your textiles, linens, and bedding
  • Fill your home with some plants to keep the air clean
  • Do you own a website or blog? Make it more sustainable with green website hosting!

PIN IT: Save for later!

If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Sustainable Home board on Pinterest.

This is the most in-depth guide on ethical and sustainable home & garden even for beginners! #sustainablehomedecor #ethicalhomedecor #ethicaltextiles

SOURCES: Eco Warrior PrincessPeaceful DumplingGreen ChoicesThe Good TradeCare

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ajax-loader