Is Canvas Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/11/22 •  9 min read

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

is canvas 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 canvas is vegan and sustainable.

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

After learning if canvas 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 canvas vegan and is canvas sustainable…something every ethical shopper must know.

Is Canvas Vegan And Sustainable?

Home

Durability: pros canvas is extremely durable and sturdy, compact, firm, heavy

Versatility: pros canvas can be used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, utilitarian products and other items for which sturdiness is required, sports gear, fashion objects as sneakers, handbags, electronic device cases and shoes

Affordability: pros canvas is typically affordable, prices will vary

Canvas is…

Environment

Fiber source: natural, canvas is a natural fiber, usually made of cotton or linen, along with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or hemp

Biodegradable: yes or no, canvas may or may not be biodegradable, if made with cotton, linen or hemp it is biodegradable, if blended with PVC it may take up to 200 years for synthetic textiles such as PVC to decompose 

Destruction: low, canvas production is relatively sustainable if organic cotton is used, uses less water than non-organic cotton due to better quality soil, grown without harmful chemicals, pesticides or insecticides, does not contain any synthetic chemicals, metals or genetically engineered substances, organic cotton doesn’t destroy ecosystems and is known to improve soil quality, moderate sustainability if PVC is used

Canvas is…

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Animals

Kills: none, canvas production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, canvas production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, as long as pesticides have not been used, buy organic, as pesticides undoubtably harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Canvas is…

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Laborers

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 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

Canvas…

What are canvas uses?

Canvas is used to make clothing, backpacks, chairs, sails, tents and more.

What are some ethical vegan fashion brands that use canvas?

BANGS Shoes, Infantium Victoria and Ontems are ethical vegan fashion brands that use canvas materials.

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canvas is durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is canvas durable or delicate? Canvas is durable and long lasting when cared for properly.

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!

canvas is sustainable when organic.

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

Is canvas eco friendly and sustainable? Yes, canvas is sustainable when organic.

Animal materials are a natural fiber and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife. 

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.

Read more about ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

canvas is vegan.

vegan-material

Is canvas vegan? Yes, canvas is vegan.

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 leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. 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 they are confined, diseased and must sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

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

canvas is a material that may or may not have labor issues.

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

Is canvas a material that has known labor issues? At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding cotton farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Canvas 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 canvas vegan and sustainable? Yes, canvas is vegan and sustainable when organic cotton has been used. Non-organic cotton is unsustainable and can harm animals like wildlife and ecosystems.

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

Sources:

Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
Textile School: Textile fabric types
Cotton: the fabric of our lives, canvas
The Spruce: Types of fabric A to Z: What are you wearing?
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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