Sustainable clothing: made with recycled materials

sustainable clothing fashion

The textile industry is known for its pollution and voracious consumption of raw materials, energy, water and land. The widespread trend of fast fashion, characterized by its rapid production, affordability and poor quality, exacerbates the environmental impacts of the textile industry, continually generating large quantities of textile waste that ends up being incinerated or landfilled due to its limited recyclability. To reduce the environmental impact, the sustainable clothing.

In this article we tell you what advantages sustainable clothing has and what sustainable fashion is about.

The environmental impact of the textile industry

sustainable fashion

The impact of the textile industry on climate change is significant. It is a highly polluting industry that also has a significant demand for raw materials. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), in 2020 alone the production of clothing, footwear and home textiles It required a staggering 175 million tons of raw materials. In terms of resource consumption, the textile sector ranks third in water use and land occupation. In addition, it occupies fourth position in terms of its contribution to climate change.

The problem is further exacerbated by the fast fashion industry. We find ourselves buying excess clothes that we don't really need, and we wear these clothes for shorter and shorter periods of time. It is an unfortunate reality, but undeniable. According to EEA statistics from 2022, each individual in Europe annually acquires approximately 6 kg of clothing, almost 3 kg of footwear and 6 kg of home textiles. Surprisingly, we end up neglecting 21% of the clothes we own and, to make matters worse, almost half of our purchases are thrown away before even reaching their first year of use.

The management of textile waste continues to be a pressing problem. Landfills are filled with piles of discarded clothing and textiles that are rarely given a second life. Authorities have not taken sufficient measures to effectively manage textile waste, leading to its accumulation not only in local landfills but also in remote corners of the world. The urgency is paramount, not only because of the detrimental impact on our planet, but also because starting in 2025, Spain will impose mandatory selective collection of textiles.

Most of the environmental impact in all cases is concentrated during the production of garments, specifically during the process from the extraction of the material to the completion of the factory. Manufacturing accounts for 63% of the impact on sweaters and 65% on pants. The next significant phase is the use of clothing, which contributes 34% of the global impact, surpassing the effects of distribution and waste management. Although synthetic fabrics release microplastics, these particles are not currently included in life cycle analysis due to insufficient data availability.

Human carcinogenic toxicity stands out as the most significant adverse outcome in clothing manufacturing, accounting for 53% of the overall impact, while also impacting climate change, the depletion of fossil resources, water consumption and land use.

Recycled materials in fashion

durable clothing

recycled cotton

Large-scale cotton cultivation has a significant global environmental impact due to its excessive water consumption, reliance on pesticides and fertilizers, and the use of chemicals such as dyes that contribute to environmental pollution. In response to this problem, several initiatives have emerged with the aim of reusing discarded cotton to minimize its ecological footprint. By adopting the principles of the “circular economy”, a An increasing number of companies are reusing old clothing to create new garments using recycled cotton.

recycled plastics

Ocean pollution is mainly attributed to the rampant disposal of plastics. The United Nations reports that a staggering 13 million tons of plastic enter the oceans annually, which is equivalent to a garbage truck emptying its contents into the water every 30 seconds.

There are several companies that have created clothing and products by reusing plastic waste. A notable example is Ecoalf, a Spanish company founded by Javier Goyeneche. In 2015, Goyeneche started the “Upcycling the Oceans” project, which focuses on the idea of ​​“upcycling,” transforming waste into valuable goods.

Other innovative alternatives

Tires out of use

According to the blog of Signus, the organization responsible for tire recycling in Spain, There is a growing trend to use discarded tires to create various fashion items.. These products include bags, backpacks, wallets, fanny packs, beach flip-flops, shoes, boots, and T-shirts. Prominent Spanish brands such as Ecoalf, Producciones Pikulinas and Nukak are leading the way in this innovative approach to sustainable fashion.


A sustainable alternative called Piñatex has been developed by Carmen Hinojosa, an Asturian innovator. This textile fiber is derived from fibers found in discarded pineapple leaves, providing an eco-friendly solution to the huge amounts of waste generated by pineapple-producing countries such as Costa Rica and the Philippines. The demand for Piñatex is increasing and renowned brands such as Hugo Boss and Bourgeois Boheme adopt this high-quality material.

Coffee and tea

In 2009, Jason and Amy Chen, a couple from Taiwan, created the S.Café brand with the purpose of reusing coffee waste into a variety of innovative materials. These materials were then used to create garments that They have unique properties, such as odor control, UV ray filtration, breathability and waterproofing. Similarly, in 2016, Young-A Lee, a researcher at Iowa State University in the United States, successfully developed an animal skin-like material using waste from kombucha tea, a type of fermented tea. Later, this material was used in the production of clothing, footwear and bags.

Leading brands in sustainable fashion

sustainable clothing


For years, Patagonia has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement, showing its dedication to preserving the planet. They demonstrate this commitment by using recycled materials, maintaining fair labor standards and donating a portion of your profits to environmental initiatives. Each and every piece of Patagonia clothing is made with longevity in mind, minimizing the need for frequent replacements.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney is a pioneer in the field of sustainable luxury fashion. Recognized for her compassionate designs and unwavering use of vegan materials, McCartney's brand exemplifies the harmonious combination of high fashion and sustainability. By firmly avoiding the use of leather and fur, it demonstrates an unwavering commitment to animal welfare.

Eileen fisher

When it comes to timeless sophistication and commitment to the environment, Eileen Fisher is the name that immediately comes to mind. This renowned brand not only prioritizes the use of organic materials such as cotton and linen but also integrates sustainable methods in all its manufacturing procedures. One of its notable initiatives is the take-back program, which encourages customers to take back their worn-out pieces, allowing them to transform them into fresh and innovative designs through the recycling process.

Advantages of sustainable clothing

Sustainable clothing is usually made with organic or recycled materials, which reduces the amount of natural resources and energy required for its production. These garments tend to generate less waste during their manufacturing and have a lower carbon footprint, which contributes to the conservation of our planet.

Brands that commit to sustainability typically prioritize fair and safe working conditions for workers at all stages of the supply chain. Besides, Sustainable clothing is usually high quality and durable. Although initially it may have a slightly higher price than conventional clothing, in the long term it is more economical, since these garments resist the passage of time better and retain their original appearance for longer. This reduces the need to constantly replace worn-out clothing, which in turn decreases the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about sustainable clothing and its characteristics.

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