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The world is transitioning towards natural, sustainable, and renewable products, and clothing is no different. But when you see knitwear labelled as sustainable, renewable, biodegradable, and similar, what does it actually mean?

Knowledge is power, so the next time you plan on purchasing quality clothing to fill your wardrobe, consider the following information.

What is Sustainable Clothing?

What does sustainable mean when you see clothing labelled with it? Manufacturers advertise their clothing as being sustainable when the fabrics used to produce it come from eco-friendly resources.

They have used sustainably grown fibres, such as wool, or made use of recycled materials. Some clothing also uses ‘low impact’ and natural or organic materials, eco-friendly dyes, or zero/low-waste designs.

What Does ‘Renewable’ Mean?

If you’ve ever seen clothing referred to as being from a renewable resource, then it means it has been produced with something that will replenish. For example, some knitwear is made with premium-grade natural merino wool.

Through natural growth, whatever a manufacturer takes to be turned into beautiful products like scarves and socks, will grow back to replace what was taken. You can’t say the same about polyester or other synthetic materials.

How is Clothing Labelled as Biodegradable?

Having clothing advertised as ‘biodegradable’ is perhaps one of the most desirable features. Biodegradable refers to something being returned to the natural environment, courtesy of micro-organisms like bacteria.

Research shows that merino wool garments can biodegrade in as little as nine months when buried in soil. The study included two sets of trials, where both polyester fabric and knitted merino were buried in the earth.

Merino fabric lost 36 percent of its mass in two months and up to 99 percent in just nine months. In contrast, the polyester knitted material showed no signs of degradation in the entire nine-month period.

The Importance of Eco-Friendly Clothing

When you browse the racks of your local clothing store, or you check out the beautiful clothing online, you may wonder why buying ‘eco-friendly’ is so important.

Let’s compare what the two different clothing types bring to the table – eco-friendly and non-eco-friendly. Purchasing non-eco-friendly clothing may expose you to harmful toxins and carcinogens that may be used in the manufacturing process. These may be harmful to both the wearer and the environment.

In contrast, eco-friendly clothing is free of such harmful chemicals and is sustainable by making use of safe materials and practices that emphasise reduced water consumption and waste production.

Why Knitwear is Leading the Way in Eco-Friendliness

When weighing up your options around the best eco-friendly clothing to buy, you may see knitwear appear at the top of the list time and time again. Why is that?

Knitwear features merino wool, a natural fibre and one of the best forms of natural all-weather protection.

It’s also a renewable resource, given that sheep produce a new fleece every year. What’s more, the manufacturers of such garments are forever improving their practices to ensure the wool industry, on which knitwear producers rely, is sustainable in the years to come.

Knitwear also offers high UV protection while even being biodegradable. Once it breaks down, it can assist in making soil fertile for crop growth. Given that a single wood fibre can bend 20,000 times before it breaks, wool garments are also incredibly robust to last the distance – whether you wear it for work or fashion.

Possum Fur in Knitwear

As desirable as merino wool is for sustainability and eco-friendliness, the addition of possum fur to merino wool clothing also piques many people’s curiosity. The resulting high-quality yarn is a desirable option for Kiwis and overseas purchasers alike.

Because possum fibres are hollow, wearers can experience both lightness and warmth. When blended with merino lamb wool, they create a piling-retardant fibre. Possum fur is also anti-static and low-pill, resulting in a beautiful garment that looks as good years later as the day you bought it.

Alongside the benefits for yourself, purchasing possum merino garments is doing the New Zealand environment a favour. Possums are an ecological threat and natural predator in Aotearoa. They eat over 21,000 tons of native vegetation nightly and compete with native birds for our natural resources.

Whole Garment Technology

One way eco-friendly clothing manufacturers are fine-tuning their processes is with the use of whole garment technology. Whole garment knitting involves using one piece of material to save wastage, improve a garment’s fit, and see away with those sometimes-irritating seams.

Eco-Blend Recycled Materials

Whenever you see something listed as containing ‘eco-blend recycled materials’, you may not know what it means. This exciting innovation involves using fibres that would usually end up wasted during the manufacturing process of yarn.

They are gathered together, respun, and new yarn is formed. All manner of fibres can be respun in this process, such as silk, angora, recycled possum fibre, and wool.

Are You Ready to Make a Conscious Clothing Choice?

The technology is available for manufacturers to produce sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable clothing for the environment and your benefit. Knitwear is leading the way with a variety of manufacturing techniques to allow for both environmentally-friendly garments and stylish clothing options.

Whether you opt for merino wool or a possum merino blend, you get to benefit from warm, practical, and stylish garments that are produced with a nod to Mother Nature.