Is Acetate Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  10 min read

Is acetate vegan and sustainable? This is a question every ethical shopper asks when buying new clothes. Here are acetate pros and cons. How will this material impact your home, the environment, animals and laborers? Let’s find out!

is acetate vegan and sustainable

Clothes are so cheap and trendy these days we buy them even when we don’t ‘need’ them. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure materials accommodate your needs but don’t hurt the planet, animals or others. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on whether acetate is vegan and sustainable.

You are going to learn all about acetate’s impact on animals and the planet. This will include acetate benefits for you regarding the durability, versatility and accessibility of the material. You’ll find out if acetate is sustainable and if acetate is vegan…or maybe even impacts animals in other ways!

After learning if acetate is good or bad for your lifestyle, the environment, animals and human rights, you’ll be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.

This post is all about asking is acetate vegan and is acetate sustainable…something every ethical shopper must know.

Shop Smart! Is Acetate Vegan And Sustainable?


Durability: pros acetate is somewhat stretchy, doesn’t pill, quick drying, resists shrinking, moth and mildew resistant, provides good dimensional stability | cons acetate rips easily, not strong, melts when heated

Versatility: pros acetate is shiny, soft, silky, dyes well, luxurious, drapes and hangs well, multiple sheens and color options, high luster, elegant appearance and feel, low static, satiny, smooth texture, no elasticity, used for clothing, evening attire, blouses, linings, wedding and party attire, home decor, furniture, drapes, curtains | cons acetate wrinkles easily, no elasticity, may require dry cleaning, melts when heated

Accessibility: acetate is common

Acetate is…


Fiber source: semi-synthetic, acetate is a semi-synthetic fiber, a manufactured fiber formed by a compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid, can be mixed with with silk, wool or cotton to make it stronger

Biodegradable: no, acetate is not biodegradable, when biodegradable fibers, such as cotton, silk and wool, are mixed with non-biodegradable fibers the resulting yarn of such a mix is no longer biodegradable and is unsuitable for value retention in biological cycles, it may take up to 200 years for synthetic textiles such as polyester to decompose 

Destruction: high, acetate production is relatively destructive, if silk and non-organic cotton is used, silk processing and transportation cause high pollution, as most silk comes from China and India, cleaning silk requires harsh, intensive treatments and chemicals, which pollute ground water, for silk to be produced locally, in the USA for example, the non-native Mulberry tree for silkworms was introduced to American soil, which quickly disrupted native habitats, the tree is a highly invasive species and upset natural ecosystems, similar occurrences in Latin America and South Asia, Mulberry trees overtake native flora due to their extreme consumption of water, leaving less water to sustain native flora, non-organic cotton can be bleached/dyed with toxic chemicals, if cotton is not organic lots of pesticides used, often GMO seeds, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides are used in cotton farming every year, chemicals degrade soil and pollute water and poison cotton pickers

Acetate is…


Kills: silkworms unless specified vegan, if silk is used, it is a fiber that silkworms weave to make their cocoons, silk producers boil silkworms alive while inside their cocoons, silkworms do have a physical response to pain

Harms: silkworms if silk is used or woolen animals such as sheep if wool is used, severe animal abuse, strips of skin, teats, tails, ears are often cut off or ripped during shearing, sheep shearer workers often punch, kick, hit and stomp on sheep, stand on their heads, necks and limbs for faster wool shearing

Indirectly kills or harms: lambs, mature sheep, wildlife and ecosystems, if wool is used lambs may die before 8 weeks old from exposure or starvation, mature sheep die from disease, lack of shelter, neglect, wildlife considered to be “threats” to sheep leads to landowners killing kangaroos and coyotes, permitted by law, resulting in millions slaughtered every year by ranchers and the federal government, if non-organic cotton is blended pesticides are used, which undoubtably harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat, alternatively buy organic cotton

Acetate (when mixed with silk or wool) is…

Acetate (unmixed, mixed with cotton) is…

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Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always be accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits


What are acetate uses?

Acetate uses include lingerie, dresses, blouses, draperies, upholstery, carpets and umbrellas.

What is the material abbreviation for acetate?

AC or CA is the material abbreviation for acetate.

acetate is somewhat durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is acetate durable or delicate? Acetate is somewhat durable. It is somewhat stretchy, doesn’t pill, quick drying, resists shrinking, moth and mildew resistant and provides good dimensional stability. However, rips easily, is not strong and melts when heated.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. 

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

acetate is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Is acetate eco friendly and sustainable? No, acetate is unsustainable.

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

Natural fibers like cotton are actually really harmful IF they are not organic. How? Cotton seeds are often GMOs that require pesticides, which are extremely toxic! In fact, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides go to non-organic, GMO cotton farming every year. The chemicals degrade soil and pollute water as well as poison cotton pickers.

Wow! …So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.

acetate may or may not be vegan.


Is acetate vegan? Acetate may or may not be vegan. It may be mixed with silk or wool, in which case silkworms must be killed or sheep must be used in order to produce acetate.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include:

These materials often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. But if the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms there is confinement, disease and animals sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. In regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle while workers hold them down and beat them in order to shear their coat or rip feathers from skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain. 

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

acetate may or may not have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is acetate a material that has laborer issues? At this time, there are no specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding acetate production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Acetate may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

So, is acetate vegan and sustainable? When mixed with silk or wool acetate is not vegan. When unmixed or mixed with cotton acetate is vegan. However, acetate is relatively unsustainable compared to most materials.

This post was all about answering if acetate is vegan and sustainable.

What Is Acetate Fabric?
Good on you, Material Guide: What is Acetate and is it eco friendly?

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.