The most commonly used fabrics for today's couture wedding gowns are cotton, silk, and linen. These are natural fibers that can be produced sustainably, unlike petroleum-based synthetic fabrics such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon. Designers like Claire Pettibone and Vera Wang, among others, offer organic fabrics in many of their designs, and some designers, such as Rene Geneva, work exclusively with eco-friendly materials. Here are the choices for sustainable fabrics to consider for your eco-couture gown.
A staggering 10% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. Organic cotton is a much more sustainable choice.
Wild or "Peace" Silk
When silk is extracted from undomesticated worms without killing them, "peace" silk is the gorgeous and eco-friendly result. Unlike conventionally produced silk, "peace" silk is vegan-friendly.
Linen, made from flax, can also be produced organically.
Hemp is a durable fiber made from a plant that is naturally pest-resistant, needs little water, and renews the soil with every growth cycle. It can be spun into a fine, silk-like fabric that is both lush and sustainable.
Made from wood pulp cellulose, Tencel is a sustainable fabric but does not always accept dyes well. As a result, some manufacturers may use harsh chemicals in the dying process, so ask about this if you are considering Tencel for your gown.
Bamboo is another fabric to consider, as long as it has been sustainably produced. Bamboo is similar to cotton, but requires far fewer pesticides and has a smaller carbon footprint. Unfortunately, some growers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, decreasing sustainability; further, the process of turning bamboo to cloth often uses toxic chemicals. While there are non-toxic processes available, they are more labor intensive and not as frequently used. If you choose bamboo, be sure the fabric has been organically produced and sustainably processed.
Any of these sustainable fabric choices is a beautiful and easy way to green your special day.
Kate runs one of the most comprehensive guides to planning a Green wedding out there. Her site is chock-full of great tips on how to create an eco-friendly wedding, whether you're just looking to go paper-free or taking it all the way with a carbon-free day.