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Benefits of natural-fiber clothing

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Safe for you, safe for the planet

Switching from traditional fabrics to natural-fiber clothing is good for us and our planet. Here's why.

Woman wearing natural fiber clothing

Natural-fiber clothing no longer means itchy hemp or unflattering off-white clothing. More and more consumers are opting for top-quality natural-fiber clothing: breathable, chemical-free alternatives to man-made fabrics altered by harsh conventional dyes, wrinkle-free formaldehyde treatments and pesticides.

Find out how natural-fiber clothing can flatter your figure >>

Animal, vegetable or mineral?

Fabrics are produced from fibers. Most modern clothing (Oracle's textiles experts say two-thirds) is produced from synthetic – aka, man-made – fibers. Natural-fiber clothing, on the other hand, is created from the naturally occurring fibers of plants and animals.

Examples of those derived from plants include vegetable fibers, such as cotton, jute, flax and hemp. Animal fibers include – among others – silk, wool, cashmere and mohair.

Natural fibers make dressing up more comfortable for kids >>

Fabulous fiber features

Popular with moms and their babies, organic cotton is grown without pesticides, growth regulators and synthetic chemical fertilizers. It's ideal for those with sensitive skin, and it's grown with utmost respect for the planet.

There's a growing demand, too, for soft, pliable bamboo clothing. Bamboo grows very rapidly, requires less moisture than most plants and is cultivated without pesticides and herbicides.

Organic cotton, bamboo and other natural-fiber fabrics (such as luxurious silk) are chock full of benefits for the wearer:

  • Natural fibers look and feel good.
  • The fibers are tightly woven, yet extremely breathable and surprisingly soft.
  • They do not cling to the body.
  • They're created without toxins or unnatural processes.
  • They're extremely lightweight, yet provide warmth and protection.
  • The fabrics can be used in everything from cotton t-shirts to silk gowns.
  • Natural fibers are biodegradable.

How natural fabrics can enhance your home >>

High quality, low impact

There's a misconception that natural-fabric clothing looks like unbleached cotton or baggy, beige hemp -- but actually, natural-fiber clothing is sold in a wide variety of colors and styles. The natural attributes of the fabric actually make it hold dye better than its man-made counterpart.

Only over the last century or two have synthetic processes been used to dye fabrics. For thousands of years before, however, natural dyeing processes enhanced the color of fabrics and garments.

With a renewed resolve to take better care of ourselves and Mother Earth, we find ourselves resorting to the old techniques that keep natural-fabric clothes, well, natural.

Visit the Ecologist for easy all-natural, homemade dyes >>

More ways to live green

Slowly going green: Learning to live green, week-by-week
6 Simple eco-friendly product swaps for your home
Eco-friendly fashion

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