Which fibre is biodegradable?

Posted by Lisa on December 17, 2022
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    The term "biodegradable" refers to a substance that will decompose in the environment. When it comes to textiles, this means that the fabric will break down into small pieces of material that can easily be absorbed and used by microorganisms in soil. A common misconception is that all natural fabrics are biodegradable. While these fabrics are made from natural materials such as cotton and wool, they do not disintegrate once thrown away because of their chemical composition. If you want an environmentally friendly option for your clothing and accessories, consider purchasing items made with one of these eight fibers:


    Jute is a natural fibre that has been used for centuries in the manufacture of rope, sacks and other products. It's made from the bark of the jute plant, which is native to Bangladesh and India. Jute is now grown on farms in many parts of the world because it's easy to cultivate; even small farmers can grow it without much difficulty.

    Jute has long been known as a biodegradable material because of its composition: its natural fibres are made up almost entirely of cellulose (which is broken down by microorganisms), but there's also some lignin (a non-cellulose substance) that makes up about 15 percent of its mass. This makes jute more easily digested by bacteria than other textiles like cotton or wool would be under similar conditions--but only if those conditions include being immersed in water or moist soil for several months after you've left them behind in your house or apartment!


    Hemp is a versatile, sturdy material that can be used to make clothing, rope and other items. It’s also biodegradable!

    Unlike most industrial crops, hemp is still alive because its roots are left in the ground when harvested. This means it will rot like any other organic matter — unlike plastic or steel — making it ideal for composting.


    Bamboo is a plant that grows naturally in many parts of the world, including China and India. It's also grown on plantations in South Africa.

    Bamboo can be used to make fabric, which is called bamboo fibre. The natural colour of bamboo fibre is greyish-green with a silvery lustre. When dyed, it turns into different colours like blue or purple that add more style to your clothes and bags!

    While you may think that this plant would be biodegradable (meaning it will break down over time), it actually isn't! Bamboo fibre doesn't break down easily because it's extremely tough and fibrous in nature - meaning there are lots of strong strands holding everything together tightly so they don't fall apart easily when exposed to water or air for long periods of time. This means that even though you throw away your old clothes made from bamboo fabric after 3 years (the normal lifespan), they won't decompose until much later than expected because there hasn't been enough time for those fibers breaking down yet (if ever!).

    Linen (flax)

    Flax is a plant that has been used to make linen for thousands of years. Flax is also known as linseed and produces a fibrous material called linen thread, which is woven into cloth to form sheets, curtains and other household items such as tablecloths and napkins.

    Linen is often referred to as a natural fibre because it’s made from the flax plant, but we should note that it contains some chemical additives during the manufacturing process. These chemicals help give linen its durable qualities and make them resistant to water damage or shrinking when washed in hot water. It’s important to read your product labels carefully before buying linen clothing so you know what kind of treatment it has had – this will determine whether or not your garment can be composted safely at home once worn out!


    Wool is a natural fibre that has been used in clothing for centuries. It's the only textile that actually grows back!

    Wool is biodegradable because it's not made of synthetic materials, so it will break down over time. The advantage of wool is that it's soft, comfortable and hypoallergenic. It also provides thermal insulation which makes it ideal for cold climates where you need to stay warm without adding bulk to your outfit.

    To learn more about wool visit our blog post "5 Benefits of Wearing Wool".

    Banana fibre

    Here's another good one to know: banana fibre. Bananas are grown all over the world, and they have a number of uses besides being delicious. One of those uses is to make biodegradable fibres that are used in a variety of products like food packaging and animal feed. The leaves of the banana plant can also be used to make paper, which has many environmental benefits.


    Silk is a natural fibre made from the cocoon of the silkworm. Silk has been used to make clothing and accessories for thousands of years. It's soft, and it can be dyed in a variety of colours. While it's not biodegradable, it's definitely a sustainable choice!


    Cotton is not biodegradable, but it's the most widely used fibre in the world. Cotton comes from cotton plants, which are grown all over the world—from Africa to China and even Brazil.

    Cotton fibre can be spun into yarn or thread for use in clothing, bedding and other textiles. In fact, it's one of the most common fabrics we use every day! However, many cotton products are treated with chemicals that can harm our health and environment.

    Jute and hemp fabric are biodegradable, while bamboo is not biodegradable

    There are two types of biodegradable materials: those that can be naturally broken down by the environment and those that require human intervention.

    • Natural fibres such as jute and hemp are known to be biodegradable, but bamboo is not.
    • Bamboo is a grass, not a fibre, so it’s less likely to fray or break down over time as it is with other plant-based fibres like hemp and jute.


    We’ve seen that cotton and silk are not considered biodegradable. Both of these fibres have been known to take hundreds of years to decompose, but there is some hope on the horizon. Scientists have been working on developing new ways to process fabrics in order for them to be more environmentally-friendly. If you want an environmentally friendly option for your clothing needs, then consider using hemp or jute because these two materials are made with natural materials like linen which makes them easier for the environment!

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