How to find environmentally sustainable wedding clothing

If your goal is a green wedding, then a sustainable wedding dress and other wedding attire is a must have. Below is a rundown of some sustainable fabric choices along with tips about how to choose greener garments for your wedding day.

Green Wedding Fabric Choices

When it comes to sustainable fabrics for greener wedding dresses and other wedding attire, it can get a little confusing. For one thing, eco-friendly wedding attire, while becoming more common, is not THAT common, meaning it can be hard to find what you need or like. Secondly, there are a lot of eco-terms thrown around in the fabric industry, some that mean more than others.

Below is a sustainable fabric primer to help you sort out your fabric choices

  • Organic Cotton
  • Organic Wool
  • Silk
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Bamboo
  • Soy
  • Muslin
  • Cashmere
  • Ingeo
  • Jute
  • Recycled
  • Vintage & Reuse

Why there’s no such thing as a sustainable fabric or clothing standard

Realistically, eco-friendly is much more complicated than what can be summed up by a simple fabric or dress choice.

First of all, not all sustainable fabrics and clothing pieces are actually sustainable. In the organic cotton category alone, you’ve got all sorts of choices and issues to address. On top of this, many wedding gowns are made with more than one type of fabric. For example, you may find a dress with a sustainable organic cotton lining but the outer shell may be made with less eco-friendly conventional silk.

Often you’ll find mixed fabrics as well, such as cotton and hemp, mixed soy cotton, cotton and silk and other fabric mixes. To be sure you’re getting a sustainable gown, you have to look at the dress as a whole not just parts of the gown.

What is the clothing’s lifespan? 

One might consider that the most sustainable fabric is not just eco-friendly from the start (i.e. growing process) but also a fabric that leaves the least impact throughout its lifespan. A fabric’s lifespan includes issues such as the creation (or growing process), the fabric’s carbon footprint, manufacturing processes, waste created, shipping, reuse qualities and biodegradability at the end of life.

Is the clothing company eco-friendly? 

Some clothing companies engage in many green and ethical practices while others use none. For example, some companies use wind or solar power to manufacture, some practice paperless office techniques, some companies use Fair Trade practices (both certified Fair Trade and not certified), others use all recycled packaging and so on. So, in this way, sometimes a company making basic cotton clothing but who does use green practices may be greener than a company making organic clothing who engages in zero green practices. It’s tricky business.

You may be able to find a wonderful wedding dress made with sustainable fabric, but does that mean the dress is perfectly eco-friendly and ethical? Not really. You have to look at how the company is run, where they get their fabric, how they treat workers and so on, to get a full idea of the ethics and sustainability of a piece of clothing.

Looking for a greener wedding gown and other eco-friendly wedding attire?

  • Look for clothing made with fibers certified by USDA’s National Organic Program and then also look for secondary certification from GOTS or another ethical textile certifier.
  • Check if the clothing is made with fabric fibers that follow the FSC chain of custody certification. FSC chain of custody (CoC) tracks FSC certified material through the entire production process – from forest to consumer and includes manufacturing and distribution.
  • Look for suppliers who are members of and approved by Green America.
  • Look for clothing made with both sustainable fabrics and eco-friendly low-impact dyes.
  • Although clothing companies, eco-friendly or not, will try to up their prices, note that real eco-friendly goods do cost more. If a price for an “eco-friendly” dress seems too good to be true, in many cases, it likely is. It really does cost more to create sustainable clothing. Learn more: why eco-friendly fashions and body care products are more expensive.
  • Read up on clothing company backgrounds. Do they have green practices in place? Where do they source their fabric from? Do they add harmful dyes and finishes? Do they pay workers a fair wage?