A small dictionary of ecological clothing terminology

Textiles: info et entretien


dictionary ecological clothing


The world of clothing contains a whole arsenal of terms to define it. When you add the notion of ecology to clothing, the variety of the lexicon only grows, and it's sometimes difficult to find one's way around.

Here are a few simple definitions, by no means exhaustive. If you'd like to see others, don't hesitate to comment!

The fiber
There's a huge variety of fibers on the market. These can be classified into 3 main categories: natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic.


Natural textiles

The number of natural fibers is impressive. These are fibers that are either of animal or vegetable origin, and which undergo mechanical transformation without the use of chemicals. The best-known are cotton, linen, hemp, wool and silk, but the list is much longer than that! We can even add a mineral component, for example gold or silver thread.

Semi-synthetic textiles

Semi-synthetic fiber is neither a synthetic nor a natural fiber. In other words, it's a fiber that comes from a natural raw material (e.g. bamboo, wood pulp, etc.) and undergoes a more or less toxic chemical transformation to produce rayon or viscose, for example.

Synthetic textiles

synthetic textiles

Following the Second World War, the use of synthetic fibers soared! A synthetic fabric is a textile obtained by synthesizing chemical compounds derived from petroleum (hydrocarbon). Examples include polyester, nylon and acrylic. This category is not considered environmentally friendly unless it is recycled.

Organic clothing
Natural fibers don't necessarily mean organic fabrics. Organic garments are those whose raw materials are pesticide-free and whose dyes are natural. In this case, you can look for certification such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Ecocert.

Second life
Second life and second-hand are synonyms. These are clothes that we acquire by donation, purchase at a thrift store or clothing counter, for example, and that once belonged to someone else.

Recycled clothing
recycled clothing

Recycled clothing can have many different characteristics. For example, it can come from the transformation of an existing garment. That is, either repairs have been made or textiles from different garments have been reclaimed to make completely new garments.

In the recycled garment category, we can also consider garments that come from bills (left over from other confections) and end-of-rolls that would not otherwise have been used and would have found their way to the landfill.

Vegan clothing
Here, we're referring to a garment that contains no animal traces. This means, for example, that it contains no wool or silk... The fact that a textile is in the vegan category does not mean that it is made from plant fiber. Polyester, for example, is considered a vegan fiber because it contains no animal traces.

Biodegradable clothing
Biodegradable clothing is clothing that can be composted at the end of its life. It's a garment made from a natural fiber such as linen, hemp or cotton. It will degrade rapidly, unlike garments made from synthetic fibers, which can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Ethical clothing

ethical clothing

Here, we're talking in particular about the working conditions that prevail during the design of the fabric in all its phases, from the cultivation or extraction of its raw material to the final result in the form of a garment. We'll be looking for garments made by adults whose working conditions are healthy, whose working hours and wages are reasonable...

Local clothing
Apart from recycled fibers, fibers are not grown or extracted locally in Canada. They are mostly imported from Asia, the USA and elsewhere. However, some designers favor textiles spun, woven and dyed here.

For a garment to be considered locally made, the entire process - design, cutting and sewing - simply has to be carried out here. This ensures a better ethical and ecological balance.

Closed loop
A closed-loop textile means that the process creates no discharge into the environment. This is the case, for example, with Lyocel, whose manufacturing process discharges no water or dyes into the environments adjacent to their design plants. It's also a fabric that won't waste any raw materials or fibers.

Ecologically yours,

eco loco

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