Have you ever opened the door to your closet and wondered what really lies
inside? From clothing to bedding accessories like sheets and pillows, we have
countless unique materials making up the content of our cupboards.
In the last few years there has been a growing interest in understanding the
composition and processes behind the materials we use every day - specifically,
which materials are non-toxic and which are cause for concern.. As a quality
bedroom furniture company, we’ve done the research to ensure all our own low
tox bedding accessories contain the good stuff.
And now we’re helping you dive deep into your own wardrobes so you can feel
empowered with all your low tox knowledge.
The materials you want
Let’s start off with the materials that you can welcome into your wardrobe - the
ones that are lower in toxins, kinder to the environment, and overall more
Cotton is a natural fibre that is known for its breathability and natural feel. But if
you’re going to buy cotton, it should always be organic. Sure, cotton seems like a
good option, being biodegradable and natural, however, the dying process of
cotton is laden with chemicals, not to mention cotton plants are frequently
sprayed with pesticides that are banned in several countries.
On top of that, the environmental factor of cotton is extreme, considering it takes
up to 2,700 litres of water to produce 1 cotton T-Shirt.
Organic cotton, on the other hand, outperforms its non-organic counterpart as a
safe and low tox alternative. It’s GMO free, grown without any toxic chemicals or
sprays, uses less water, and is far safer for the workers making the clothing.
Linen is truly having a moment right now - from organic bedding to summer
ensembles - and thankfully, it’s a winner for low tox materials too. Somewhat
rough to start, linen only softens with each wash, while also ticking the
breathability and lightweight boxes.
Derived from flax, a plant that requires four times less water than cotton, it doesn’t
demand any chemical processes in manufacturing, and most companies produce
their various colours with natural dyes (although be sure to confirm this).
Its minimal chemical use means linen is safer for workers to be in contact with,
and it’s also incredibly durable, so you’ll be using it for years to come - talk about
a low carbon footprint!
More sustainable than cotton, polyester, and rayon, Lyocell is favoured in the
ethical material world for its use of a closed loop production system. What this
means is the chemicals used in its manufacturing are recycled and reused in
future processes, rather than being dumped in the environment.
Tencel, a registered trademark of the low tox lyocell, claims that as much as
99% of the chemicals get reused through this system.
As a natural material, it also uses less water and energy to create, and helps wick
away odour and moisture from the body, with Tencel stating that its material
originates from sustainably-managed plantations.
Hello organic hemp, you beautifully reliable material! Easy on water usage, quick
to grow, and naturally resistant to pests that require pesticides, hemp is a firm
favourite for your wardrobe.
Hot tip: always ensure you’re taking home certified organic hemp material, as
some companies use cheaper production methods that contain toxic chemicals.
Whether it’s your winter jumpers, your wool and latex pillow, or an organic wool
quilt, sustainably sourced wool gets a decent ‘yes’ for your closets. It’s natural,
breathable, temperature regulating, and biodegradable - but it comes with some
It still doesn’t top the eco-friendly charts, given the energy and resources involved
in raising the animals, and you have to be mindful of purchasing wool that handles
the animals ethically. Look for the Responsible Wool Standard certification that
tells you the brand is looking out for our woolly friends.
We also recommend switching cashmere for alpaca; alpaca wool is just as soft,
just as comfy, and just as breathable, but opposed to the eco impacts of goat
cashmere, alpacas cause less environmental damage, drink less water, and still
produce up to five sweaters each year.
The materials you don’t want
Synthetic materials that don’t naturally come from the earth are the ones to watch
for in your wardrobe. But don’t stress if you’ve already got a stack - you can still
give them a long shelf life and keep them from being wasted. More importantly,
you’ll now be equipped with the right knowledge so you’re ready to hit the shops.
Itchy, non-breathable, sweaty, and the opposite of eco-friendly - polyester is not
the kind of material you want getting comfortable in your closet. But unfortunately,
it’s one of the most popular materials in clothing especially, so you’ll need to be
on the lookout.
Put simply, polyester is plastic; it does not biodegrade, is derived from petrolatum
(oil, the world’s greatest polluter), and emits 3 times as much carbon dioxide gas
than cotton. On top of that, polyester releases toxic chemicals into waterways
during manufacturing and are a major contributor of microplastics. Polyester is
hard to recycle, meaning most of the items using it are ‘new’, and when it can be
recycled, it’s a huge resource and energy drain.
Materials such as nylon and acrylic are other forms of plastic material, which have
similar drawbacks to polyester, so add them to your ‘avoid’ list while you’re at it.
Rayon & Viscose
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fibre that is developed from wood pulp, and also
includes materials like bamboo viscose or modal. Its fundamental makeup is
similar to cotton, so it’s pretty breathable, but unfortunately that’s where the
To start, the process of converting the raw material into its final form is highly
toxic, and Carbon disulfide, a poisonous chemical produced during the
manufacturing process, has been linked to numerous health issues for rayon
factory workers. Investigators of these factories in China, India and Indonesia also
found that water and air pollution were significant, and pointed to brands like H&M
and Inditex (the owner of Zara) as companies that source from these places.
Modal & Bamboo Viscose
Modal is considered a slightly more environmentally friendly form of rayon that is
more durable but overall, isn’t worth including in your wardrobe or otherwise.
As for bamboo viscose, the wood might be sustainable but the toxic chemicals
used and then dumped into the environment are not.
The more you know…
At the end of the day, you can only do your best when it comes to the materials
you allow into your wardrobe. But even if certain materials feel out of reach,
we can continue learning about what our clothes and bedding accessories are
made of and aim to reduce the list of ‘bad’ materials in our future.
And when those synthetic materials crop up or feel unavoidable, you can always:
1. Shop secondhand to keep synthetic materials out of landfill
2. Wash your new clothes at least twice to rid them of chemicals
3. Opt for dry cleaners that don’t use PERC chemicals, which are shown to be
4. Look for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, which certifies for organic fibres, including their ecological and social practices
Is this the perfect excuse for a little window shopping? We reckon it might be!