• Sumo

When it comes to creating fashion items, such as T-Shirts, most designers turn to cotton or polyester: but did you know that there are plenty of ecologically-sound materials which are readily available?

Let’s take a look at two sustainable materials which can be used to construct t-shirts and other fashion items;


You might wonder how this naturally-derived substance could possibly be used as a material for making clothing: typically, it is used to produce ropes and rough-textured materials, such as hessian cloth or canvas sacks; however, modern processing methods mean that this wondrous resource can be made into silky soft tops, shoes and trousers, often as part of a composite blend with other fabrics;

two sustainable t-shirt materials

Clothing articles which are of jute construction have the advantage of being easily recycled or composted: better still, jute is a carbon-neutral material, so any way that you slice it, you can be sure that the planet breathes a sigh of relief each time you purchase jute instead of nasty polyester.

The low cost and gentle environmental impact of Jute production make it an attractive material for green manufacturers, which has led to it becoming second only to cotton in terms of demand worldwide.

Most of the world’s Jute comes from India and Bangladesh, where it is vital to the livelihood of millions of people.


This material was vital to the expansion of many a country’s empire back in the days when sailing ships were the most powerful vessels around; it was used to construct sails and ropes, due, in part to the remarkable speed at which the substance could grow;

These days, hemp is still a valuable crop, with some outstanding green-credentials:

  • Hemp is one of the strongest naturally occurring fibres available.
  • When producing hemp crops, farmers don’t have to spray the same harsh pesticides that they would with other plants.
  • Hemp goes from seed to harvestable crop in little over four months
  • This material is durable but soft.
  • Hemp is extremely versatile: it has been used to construct everything from car dashboards to the loincloths of Sumo wrestlers in Japan.

The fact that hemp can be grown rapidly with little environmental impact makes it an excellent material to make t-shirts from;

The majority of the world’s hemp is grown in China; however, France and Chile also produce thousands of tonnes per year.

sustainable t-shirt materials

The choice is yours

When you are next looking for an environmentally-friendly t-shirt, jute and hemp are just two materials to consider: don’t be fooled, however, by products marked as being made from ‘environmentally friendly’ bamboo: whilst bamboo is a sustainable crop, in order to refine it into material that is suitable to be used in clothing, manufacturers will typically use a barrage of harsh chemicals, including the likes of lye.

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