Within this article we will share some of the yarn used for the eco friendly trend within the sock industry. We hope this will provide you valuable information as you work with your sock supplier to provide eco friendly choices to promote your company's goals for a sustainable earth.
What is Sustainable Yarn?
Sustainable Yarn is a term used to promote eco-friendly materials used in your sock products. This can range from organic, recycled yarn, to recycled plastics. We will touch upon each type yarn on the pro's and con's when you decide to work with sustainable yarn.
Organic yarn is yarn that is free from all bleach or dyes. It comes in natural shades. It is basically the most purest form of sustainable yarn. Normally larger brands want to buy this with certification process called GOTS, which stands for Global Organic Textile Standards.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the stringent voluntary international standard for the processing of organic fiber-containing products, addressing all the post-harvest processing stages (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing). It includes both environmental and social provisions for post-farm to retail shelf management. Key provisions include a ban on the use of child labor, genetic engineering, heavy metals, and highly hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, while requiring living wages and strict wastewater treatment practices.
There are other certifications out there like OE100, Fair Wear, and KBA. They all provide similar views on what is consider organic.
The Pros Of Organic Yarn
Organic yarn is significantly more environmentally friendly. Less synthetic chemicals used overall. Less pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers. Less synthetic chemical in freshwater sources and less water pollution. Less air pollution. Better dying, bleaching Cleaner and more natural cotton seed. Less soil contamination and better soil health. Lower impact on wild life and their eco-systems.
More durable for clothing as organic fibers are strong
The Cons Of Organic Yarn
In some cases, organic yarn production uses more resources. More land, water and energy used. Lower yield, less efficient and less revenue. Limited supply to keep up demand Higher greenhouse gas emissions due to more resources used. More labor and time intensive. Lack subsidies and protection. Some harmful natural pesticides. Very slow conversion and certification process. More expensive to produce and sell.
Limited color shades
With that said, Organic, all-natural is not always better. Each country's ability to produce organic material varies and not all of them are equal. There is a lot of "what if" and basically you are limited in some forms of techniques on what you can do with a sock. If you think about it, why would you purchase organic yarn, then dye it or add other techniques that cause harmful waste. So in most cases, organic yarn may only be used as a portion of the sock like 70% organic and 30% man made materials. So beware if anyone tells you, their product is 100% organic.
The Next type of Eco-Friendly is Recycled Yarn
There are 2 types of recycled yarn.
The first is post-consumer, which is basically items consumers have used, for example used t-shirts.
The second is pre-consumer, which is basically leftover materials from garment factories, for example un-used yarn/strands.
Most recycled yarn focuses on pre-consumer materials because as you can imagine there is a huge second hand market for used items. Also any recycled yarn that is used to produce socks, turns into polyester. Now that we have cleared that up, lets get on to the next part of our discussion.
If your worried about certification, you are probably wonder what Certifications should you be focused on? In most cases, companies are focused on certifications like GRS, which stands for Global Recycle Standards.
The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is a voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product. It also sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.
There are other standards of certifications but they are all very similar. But if you want certification, we recommend GRS. Now lets get onto the pro's and con's!
The Pros Of Recycled Yarn (Polyester)
Strong and durable Material.
Easy to care and wrinkle resistant.
Doesn't absorb moisture easily.
Less water used during production compared to organic yarn
It's also recyclable
Many sock techniques are still applicable
Supply is adequate, as more companies continue to purchase this
The sock can be made by 100% recycled material, unlike organic cotton where it still requires some man-made material.
The Cons Of Recycled Yarn(Polyester)
Less biodegradable due to recycled yarn also using recycled plastic. Still require a dye process, if you are choosing to color your socks.
Price per unit will be higher due to extra process within recycled process
Higher MOQ, until supply gets abundant. Right now, for every 10 customers, only 1 is asking about recycled yarn.
Majority of recycled yarn contains PET, which is what plastic bottles use.
Overall recycled yarn is an excellent choice to be eco-friendly, as we take excess post-consumer materials and plastics to convert them to new products. However if the product lands in the landfill, it has to be recycled again. So this process is an ongoing cycle of use and recycle because biodegradable is not really an option, as most recycled yarn contains plastics. However the goal is clear, this process takes those unbiodegradable items and repurposes it for something that can be used again.
In conclusion, there are 2 primary sustainable yarn for Sock buyers, each has it's own pro's and con's. Each path is a clear win for earth and your corporate responsibility to create eco-friendly sustainable products. So it's your choice but both choices is an action that promotes eco-friendly options!!
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If you want more information about recycled yarn process, visit us at Sustainable Yarn Process | Inluxe Apparel Socks and Manufacturing (inluxesocks.com)
If you want more information about our products, visit us at Eco-Friendly Socks | Inluxe Apparel Socks and Manufacturing (inluxesocks.com)