What Are the Different Types of Environmentally-Friendly Clothing?

K. K. Lowen

There are many types of environmentally-friendly clothing. Used clothing is more eco-friendly than new clothes. Recycled, organic, and naturally dyed garments are all popular types of green clothing.

Buying clothing secondhand is environmentally friendly.
Buying clothing secondhand is environmentally friendly.

Finding environmentally-friendly clothing may be as simple as visiting a thrift store or garage sale. Gently used or vintage clothes made from any material are more eco-friendly than most clothing sold in stores because they require no more manufacturing or distribution resources. Clothing already in a person’s closet cannot become more unfriendly to the environment, and maintaining clothing for long-term use can make any garment eco-friendly.

Clothing made from recycled or organic material is environmentally friendly.
Clothing made from recycled or organic material is environmentally friendly.

Some companies make environmentally-friendly clothing from recycled materials. Plastic, for example, could be transformed into fibers used to create clothes. It is not possible to compost clothing produced from recycled materials because they generally are not biodegradable, but they can be recycled again to create more clothing. Companies sometimes recycle old cotton to make new clothing as well.

Shoes, sweaters, pants and socks are among the many clothing items which can be made from hemp.
Shoes, sweaters, pants and socks are among the many clothing items which can be made from hemp.

Designers sometimes utilize the fabric from old clothes to create new environmentally-friendly clothing. One of the most common styles is patchwork clothing, such as skirts and pants pieced together from different denims or corduroys. Clothing designers also might remove the worn areas from a garment and either patch the holes with a reused fabric or use the remaining material to create a smaller article of clothing.

Organic agriculture produces the fabrics used by many environmentally-friendly clothing manufacturers. Cotton, linen, wool, and hemp can be produced organically, without the pesticides, insecticides, and other damaging chemicals often used in agriculture. Organic materials are renewable resources that are biodegradable and compostable. By purchasing organic clothing consumers promote green agricultural initiatives, but some people argue that fabric blends made from natural and synthetic fibers provide better durability and longevity, making them as eco-friendly than organic clothes.

Some fabrics use naturally derived man-made fibers. Wood pulp, bamboo, soy, and corn are sources of the fibers, but the process of turning them into fabric requires harmful techniques similar to synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester. Other issues include the popularity of genetically engineered corn and soy as well as the loss of animal habitats related to the use of bamboo and wood pulp. People consider the garments to be environmentally-friendly clothing because it is possible to compost the items when they no longer serve their function.

The use of natural dyes is a common characteristic of environmentally-friendly clothing. Natural dyes come from sources such as flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries, and some types of insects. Non-chemical dyes can create a vast array of colors without harming the environment.

As wool can be produced organically, it could be considered environmentally friendly.
As wool can be produced organically, it could be considered environmentally friendly.

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Discussion Comments


When we think of environmentally friendly products we usually think of food and chemicals. But clothes are just as important. The number of environmental resources used to produce clothing is huge. It takes significant amounts of land, soil, water, sun and chemicals.

Wearing sustainably produced clothing is an important aspect of living a green lifestyle.


I only buy natural baby clothes. I want my baby to be as happy and healthy and comfortable as he can possibly be. There are a number of dyes and pesticides that are used on cotton and I don't want them pressed against my baby's skin.

People might think that organic eco friendly clothing is expensive and frivolous, but it really doesn not cost much more money and the benefits are real. I wear organic t-shirts and a number of the skin problems I used to suffer from have cleared up. Environmental friendly clothing companies are doing a good service. I think they will be more popular in the future.


Most of my clothes are made from hemp. Hemp is a naturally occurring plant that produces a fiber which can be used to make a whole range of things. You can make paper, rope, clothes and hundreds of other things.

Hemp is a miracle plant but there is a ridiculous prohibition against cultivating it in this country. It has been incorrectly associated with marijuana which makes law makers nervous. The truth is that the plants are barely related and hemp cannot be used as a narcotic. All it is good for is as a sustainable, easy to grow, super useful wonder plant.

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