Is biodegradable clothing sustainable? Classification, pros, cons

Biodegradable clothing is gaining popularity as the fashion industry looks for more environmentally responsible and sustainable choices. However, there is still concern about whether this clothing is truly sustainable. To ascertain whether biodegradable clothes are a sustainable choice for the fashion business, Dugarco will examine the classification of biodegradable clothing, its benefits and drawbacks, and its environmental effect in this article.

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1. Importance of biodegradable materials in the fashion industry

Biodegradable clothing is known as a type of clothing made from materials that can decompose naturally in the environment without leaving any harmful residues. Microorganisms such as bacteria will decompose and digest these materials.

biodegradable clothing
Importance of biodegradable materials in the fashion industry

Biodegradable clothing can dissolve between a few months to a few years, depending on the specific material and conditions, as opposed to traditional clothes made of synthetic materials which might take hundreds of years to break down. By promoting the use of biodegradable materials, the fashion industry can lessen its impact on the environment and move toward a more sustainable future.

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2. Biodegradable clothing from natural materials

People are looking for more and more natural materials to make biodegradable clothing as the negative effects of the fashion industry on the environment become a more severe problem. The following will introduce some of the natural materials used to create biodegradable clothing.

2.1. Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits, including oranges and lemons, not only make delicious and healthy foods, but they also have the potential to be used to make biodegradable clothes. These fruits’ rinds contain a material that may be extracted and processed to make a sturdy, elastic yarn. Numerous apparel items, such as t-shirts, socks, and even shoes, may be made using this yarn. Citrus fruit fibre clothing is both biodegradable and naturally antibacterial, making it the perfect material for sportswear.

biodegradable clothing
Citrus fruit fabric

2.2. Hemp

Since ancient times, hemp has been used to make clothes thanks to its natural and adaptable ability. Consumers who are concerned about the environment will find hemp clothing to be an ideal option because it is both durable and comfortable as well as biodegradable. In addition, hemp is a crop that grows quickly and uses little water and pesticides, making it a more environmentally friendly substitute for conventional cotton.

biodegradable clothing
Hemp fabric

2.3. Organic cotton

Organic cotton is also a material that is trusted by consumers as a biodegradable material. However, cotton’s eco-friendliness is still very restricted compared to other materials. Specifically, cotton requires nearly twice as much land as hemp per finished textiles. One kilogram of organic requires a lot of water to grow, and the entire cotton manufacturing process utilizes several times as much water as the production of other fibres.

biodegradable clothing
Organic cotton

2.4. Soybeans

It may be hard to believe, but beans can also be used to create biodegradable clothing. Eco-friendly soy cloth is created from the leftover soybean hulls from food manufacturers. Because of their smooth and silky feel, soy fibres are perfect for constructing breathable garments. The quantity of garbage in the environment would be decreased thanks to the biodegradability of soybeans-based clothing.

biodegradable clothes

2.5. Bioengineered Spider Silk

A cutting-edge fabric with the potential to revolutionize the fashion industry is bioengineered spider silk. Spider silk is renowned for its extraordinary strength and flexibility, but historically, producing it in big numbers has been difficult and expensive. However, recent developments in biotechnology have made it feasible to produce spider silk threads using bacteria or yeast that have undergone genetic modification.

biodegradable clothes
Bioengineered spider silk

This bioengineered spider silk can be created without the use of hazardous chemicals or pesticides, and no spiders were hurt in the process, thus making it sustainable as well as biodegradable.

2.6. Bamboo

Biodegradable clothes may be made from bamboo, a material that is quickly renewable and grows quickly. The bamboo plant is processed into a pulp, and the fibres are spun into yarn to create bamboo cloth. Bamboo fibres are a great option for apparel products like t-shirts, socks, and underwear since they are soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking.

biodegradable clothes
Bamboo fabric

Bamboo cloth is also a fantastic selection for persons with sensitive skin because it is also naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. Bamboo clothing is not only eco-friendly but also strong and long-lasting, making it an economical choice in the long term.

2.7. Linen

Linen is a natural material that has been used for manufacturing biodegradable clothes for thousands of years. Linen, which is created from the flax plant’s fibres, is renowned for its strength, breathability, and capacity to keep the user cool in hot weather. It is also naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic, making it a fantastic option for those with sensitive skin. Bamboo clothing is not only eco-friendly but also strong and long-lasting, making it an economical choice in the long term.

biodegradable clothing
Linen clothing

2.8. Algae

An adaptable marine vegetable called algae can be used to create biodegradable fabrics for the clothing industry. Scientists are currently looking at using algae to make environmentally friendly and long-lasting apparel.

biodegradable clothing
Algae material

Algae cloth is biodegradable and may naturally decompose over time, helping to minimize waste in the environment. Although algal clothing is currently in the experimental phase, it has the potential to become the search for environmentally friendly and sustainable clothing solutions.


3. Advantages of biodegradable clothing

The growing interest in biodegradable clothes as a sustainable and ecologically friendly option has been observed in recent times. Let’s look at the various benefits that biodegradable clothing offers.

3.1. Good for health

Biodegradable clothing has several benefits, one of which is that it may be beneficial to our health. Natural textiles are free of toxic chemicals and other hazardous elements, so they are used to make biodegradable clothing. These substances can enter our bodies through our skin and cause allergies, rashes, or other health problems.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothing is good for health

Natural textiles are also moisture-wicking and breathable, helping to control body temperature and stop the development of germs and fungi that can lead to skin illnesses.

3.2. Easy care

Biodegradable clothing also frequently has the benefit of being easy to care for. Many natural materials, like organic cotton, bamboo, and linen, may be machine washed and dried on low heat or can also be hung to dry naturally. In comparison to synthetic textiles, these materials also have a tendency to be less prone to shrinking, wrinkling, or pilling. This makes biodegradable garments a practical option for anyone looking for clothing that is low-maintenance and simple to care for.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothing is easy to care for

3.3. Spread awareness

The biodegradable garment also helps raise awareness of the value and awareness of sustainability and environmental friendliness. We can inspire people to make more environmentally responsible decisions in their own lives by wearing biodegradable clothing and raising awareness of its advantages. This will ultimately result in a more green and sustainable future for everybody.

biodegradable clothes
Using biodegradable clothes can help spread awareness

3.4. Environmental protection

Contributing to environmental protection is one of the most important benefits of biodegradable clothing. Fast fashion contributes to the yearly generation of enormous volumes of textile waste, making the fashion sector one of the worst pollutants in the world.

biodegradable clothes
Using biodegradable clothing is the environmental protection

Meanwhile, natural-fibre clothing that decomposes quickly can lessen the quantity of textile waste that ends up in landfills. These organic materials may decompose naturally over time and do not release dangerous chemicals or pollutants into the environment.

3.5. Allergy-free

Another potential advantage of biodegradable material is that it can be allergy-free. Many of the chemicals and dyes used in synthetic textile clothes can irritate sensitive skin. In contrast, biodegradable clothes that decompose naturally, are devoid of these dangerous chemicals and are less likely to irritate skin or trigger allergies.

biodegradable clothes
Biodegradable garment is allergy-free

3.6. Biodegradable textiles are skin-friendly

As previously mentioned, biodegradable clothing is produced using natural materials, with no addition of any chemicals. They are therefore absolutely safe for skin, particularly sensitive skin. Natural textiles are also moisture-wicking and breathable, helping to control body temperature and stop the development of germs and fungus that can lead to skin illnesses. Therefore, we can protect our skin and lessen our exposure to dangerous chemicals by wearing biodegradable clothes, which will eventually improve our health.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable garment is skin-friendly

3.7. Comfortable to wear

Biodegradable clothing can bring a comfortable feeling when wearing. Natural fabrics used to create biodegradable clothes are frequently light and moisture-wicking, which helps to regulate body temperature and inhibits the growth of germs and fungus that may harm our skin. Natural materials also have a drape and flow that makes us pleasant and convenient to move in, such as linen and bamboo.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothing is comfortable to wear

3.8. Durable and flexible

One of the key benefits of biodegradable clothing is its durability and flexibility. These materials are extraordinarily strong and can withstand wear and tear just as well as synthetic textiles. Furthermore, the biodegradable fabric feels smooth and comfortable, making it a popular option for people with sensitive skin. Therefore, the biodegradable garment is a great option for anyone searching for long-lasting and sustainable substitute garment materials because of their flexibility and durability.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothing is durable and flexible

3.9. Have sustainability

The advantages of biodegradable clothing for sustainability have increased its appeal in recent years. It is constructed of natural materials that can be easily broken down by bacteria and other natural components. This implies that biodegradable fabric can be disposed of naturally and won’t contaminate the environment. Additionally, the biodegradable garment is frequently produced using ingredients that use less energy and resources than synthetic textiles, making it a more sustainable option.

biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothes are sustainable


4. Some disadvantages of biodegradable clothes

Although biodegradable clothing provides several benefits over conventional garment materials, there are also drawbacks to take into account. The fact that biodegradable clothes might cost more than clothing made of synthetic materials is one of the biggest disadvantages. This is due to the possibility that the production process for biodegradable materials is more involved and calls for specialist machinery.

biodegradable clothes
Some disadvantages of biodegradable clothes

Moreover, the durability of some biodegradable materials may not be as high as that of synthetic textiles, which might reduce their useful life and necessitate more frequent replacements.

5. How long does it take for clothes to biodegrade?

The kind of material used to make the clothing and the conditions under which they are disposed of affect how long it takes for it to biodegrade. Depending on conditions like temperature, moisture, and the presence of microbes, natural materials like cotton might take up to 5 months to decompose. On the other hand, the decomposition of synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon might take up to 200 years.

biodegradable clothes
Time for clothes to biodegrade

6. Challenges for biodegradable clothing

Despite presenting a sustainable alternative to conventional garment materials, biodegradable clothing is not without its difficulties.  The following will explain more about the challenges of biodegradable material:

  • High costs: The use of specialized materials and manufacturing processes can make biodegradable clothing more expensive than traditional fabrics. Therefore, it may be less accessible to those on a budget.
biodegradable clothes
Some challenges of biodegradable clothing
  • Limited availability: Making biodegradable clothing is a time-consuming and difficult procedure. Because of this, their supply is sometimes scarce, and buyers may have to wait patiently to obtain their desired biodegradable clothes.
  • Maintenance challenges: While natural fabrics like cotton or wool are simple to clean, some biodegradable materials can need extra attention to maintain their quality and capacity to be biodegradable.

7. Biodegradable clothing: the future of sustainable fashion

The fashion industry is increasingly looking to biodegradable clothes as a sustainable replacement for conventional fabrics in the future as environmental concerns continue to rise.

  • Increased demand for sustainable and ethical fashion: Consumers’ favour is changing as a result of rising environmental awareness of the effects of traditional textile manufacturing and disposal as well as worries about labour practices in the fashion industry. As a result, there is a rise in interest in biodegradable clothes as a result of the rising demand for ethical and ecological fashion.
biodegradable clothes
Biodegradable clothing is the future of sustainable fashion
  • Innovations in biodegradable materials: Advances in biotechnology have led to the creation of new materials like citrus fruit, soybeans and bioengineered spider silk. In addition to being naturally biodegradable and needing less water and energy to generate, these novel materials have various advantages.
  • Integrating technology: The future of biodegradable clothes also involves integrating technology. For instance, several clothing producers are investigating the use of 3D printing technology to make specialized biodegradable clothing that properly fits the wearer. These innovations have the potential to transform the way we view clothing by making it more individualized, practical, and ecological.

For the fashion industry, biodegradable clothing has the potential to be a sustainable choice. Contact Dugarco for full assistance if you have any queries or would like to learn more about this topic.

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