Sustainable Fabrics + Materials List

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/16/22 •  3 min read

Here is a list of sustainable fabrics and materials. Unsustainable fabrics and materials are also listed.

sustainable fabric material list

Click on each fabric to see further explanation of a material’s impact on the environment. A textile’s eco-friendliness depends on several factors. How do you determine if a material is sustainable or unsustainable? That topic is discussed in detail here: ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable’

Sustainable Fabrics + Materials

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

Examples Of Sustainable Fabric And Material

Perhaps the most sustainable of all fabrics and materials would be a natural fiber that is plant-derived, requires little to no pesticides and is biodegradable.

Bamboo, hemp and jute are materials that match this description. Regarding resources, bamboo for instance, does not require much land and needs very little water to grow. It’s hardy, yield is plentiful and it is a non-invasive plant species with numerous uses and applications.

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

Unsustainable Fabrics + Materials

wool is an unsustainable material
Do not believe false claims that say wool is sustainable. It’s true wool is a biodegradable, natural fiber…but it’s terrible for the environment! Find out why wool is unsustainable here.

Examples Of Unsustainable Fabric And Material

Leather is a natural fiber and biodegradable. However, it is often tanned with toxic chemicals that contaminate the environment. As previously mentioned, sourcing materials from animals is quite problematic. Cows require land, water and food. Being ruminant animals, they have multiple stomachs and emit high volumes of carbon emissions, bad for air, water, soil, etc.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber, a common plastic, essentially derived from fossil fuels or petroleum. Its production contributes to the oil manufacturing industry -the world’s largest pollutant. Polyester manufacturing uses energy-intensive heating process, requiring large quantities of water for cooling. Furthermore, polyester does not biodegrade quickly may take up to 200 years to decompose.

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

This post provided a list of sustainable and unsustainable fabrics and materials.


Sustainable Apparel Coalition
Textile Exchange
Global Organic Textile Standard
Textiles: Material-Specific Data | US EPA

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.