The materials we use in our clothing, and the way in which these materials are spun, dyed and woven, has a huge impact on the planet. At Community Clothing we pride ourselves on using the finest quality natural materials. We love natural fibres; we love way they feel when you wear them, we love that they last a long time and get better with age, and we love that if you use the right ones, grown in the right way, they’re kind to the planet too. We use almost exclusively wool, linen and cotton in our clothing because we believe that they offer the very best combination of wearability and overall environmental impact.

Cotton gets a bad press, and its true there is some very environmentally damaging cotton production in the world, consuming large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and water. But that doesn’t mean that all cotton is bad. Mankind has been using cotton to produce clothing for around five thousand years. It grows naturally and abundantly right across the tropics, and modern sustainable, organic and regenerative farming practices mean it can be done with limited or no harm to the planet. This does of course come at a price. But cotton makes fantastic, comfortable, fully biodegradable, and if well grown and well-spun, very durable clothing.

Mankind has been using wool to make clothes since the stone age. We’d argue that as a material man and science has never been able to better its unique properties. It’s renewable; it has the second smallest carbon footprint (after linen) of any textile fibre and it is naturally biodegradable.

Wool fibres are naturally abrasion resistant, making woollen garments very durable, and its natural elasticity, along with its ability to absorb moisture, makes it extremely comfortable to wear. In short, nature has created almost the perfect fibre from which to make clothes.

Linen is the most sustainable fabric on earth. It can be grown with no irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides. Its total carbon footprint in production is the lowest of all textile fibres, and it is an incredibly durable fibre so linen clothes will last an incredibly long time.

Linen has a strongly positive environmental story and can be produced in close harmony with nature. The world’s best linen is grown on our doorstep, in Northern Europe, in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and just within the last two years here in the UK, so it also has minimal clothing miles.

At Community Clothing we love linen, so much so that we’ve started growing our own in a project we’ve called Homegrown/Homespun.

Nylon has a high carbon footprint when compared to cotton and wool so we use it sparingly. But it is necessary to extend the life of our sock. We only use highest quality traceable nylon produced using clean energy. 

Synthetic plastic materials, made from oil, account for almost 70% of all material used in clothing production today. Polyester, acrylic, nylon, polyurethane and viscose were all developed as cheap readily available alternatives to natural fibres in the 19050’s and 60’s. Their widespread use led to a huge fall in the cost and a huge rise in the consumption of clothing. Their production often uses highly toxic chemicals. There are good manufacturers, predominantly close to home in the EU, who manufacture in a way which ensures that all input and waste chemicals and all bi-products are safely captured and reprocessed. But this is very expensive to do, and so in many of the places where high street and fast fashion clothes are made these controls are absent. Workers health is put at risk and air and water systems are polluted.

Polyester is made from oil,it has more than twice the carbon footprint of cotton or wool (even recycled polyester has a higher carbon footprint than natural materials) and it does not biodegrade. 

Acrylic is an oil based synthetic fibre. It is not viably recyclable and is not biodegradable. The production and processing of acrylic uses toxic chemicals so manufacturing control is required to avoid hazard to workers. It is highly flammable, which means it must be treated with often toxic flame retardants.

We use no acrylic in any of our products.

Polyurethane is an oil based synthetic material. The production and processing of polyurethane (often now called vegan leather) involves the use of toxic chemicals that are hazardous to human health, and pollute the air and water systems. Whilst materials made from polyurethane will delaminate and become unusable quite quickly the material itself will not biodegrade.

We use no polyurethane in any of our products.

Cheap clothing is manufactured using chemicals that are hazardous to human health. They are hazardous to workers, they often end up in water systems, and they can remain on clothing and can be absorbed through the skin by the wearer. Some of these are banned entirely in the UK/EU, some are allowed but their use is very tightly controlled. A recent report showed that children’s clothes from a major fast fashion brand contained up to 20 times the safe amount of lead. The following are some of the most problematic - we do not use any of these chemicals in the manufacturing processes of any Community Clothing garments.

Materials We Might Use in the Future 

Our ultimate aim is to use materials to make our clothes which have zero environmental impact and are completely recyclable in a closed circular system, or are completely naturally biodegradable.

There are lots of fascinating developments in the world of textiles, some natural, some synthetic, some a hybrid of both. Our founder Patrick Grant has a background in Materials Science and works closely with several UK university textile science departments to monitor and participate in the development of new materials and processing technologies including dyeing.

Some of these, like cellulose acetate for example, a plant based fibre which can be readily recycled, show great promise.


Some people think because viscose is made from plant material, typically wood pulp but increasingly also from bamboo, that’s it’s a natural fibre. Its not. It’s made by dissolving the plant cellulose of the feed stock in some pretty nasty chemicals before extruding this slurry into the synthetic viscose fibre. Where the wood comes from, and how it’s made can have a huge impact on the environment. There’s good viscose and bad viscose.

On the plus side it is claimed that viscose does readily biodegrade.

We are investigating the limited use of fully traceable European viscose in some products.