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Sustainable fabrics: everything you need to know

From textiles that use recycled yarns to inherently eco-friendly fabrics, we look at the options that are kinder to the planet

Sustainable fabrics: everything you need to know

More than ever before, we need to think carefully about what we are putting into our homes, as not only do we want them to look fabulous, but we need to consider the environmental impact of our interior schemes. At Linwood, we are constantly striving to reduce our carbon footprint, sourcing locally from mills in the UK and Europe; focussing on fibres that are naturally eco-friendly; and developing recycled fabrics that utilise waste which would otherwise end up in landfill. Here, we showcase the sustainable fabrics that are making a small but significant difference…


Recycled cotton



While cotton is a natural fabric that is completely biodegradable, conventional cotton is very water intensive to cultivate and process. Enter Verde, our sustainable fabric woven from 80 per cent recycled cotton. Using offcuts from the fashion industry, this eco-friendly fabric is also chemical-free and is double brushed, so it is wonderfully soft on both sides; it can be washed at 30º and is ideal for curtains, loose covers, and upholstery. The palette spans 46 plain shades and includes this pretty Candy colour, which brings an unexpected twist to a contemporary sofa.


Recycled wool



Wool has fabulous properties that make it a naturally eco-friendly fabric: it is inherently fire retardant, so it doesn’t require harmful chemicals; it is water repellent, making it forgiving with spills; and it is breathable, ensuring that it is warm in winter yet cool in summer. Add to this the fact that our Lana range is made from recycled wool – collected from clothing and offcuts of the fashion industry, all recycled locally to Florence, where it is woven – and you have the dream sustainable material. Lana is perfect for upholstery and curtains and comes in no less than 55 versatile melange shades.


Natural linen 



Not only is linen perfect for bringing subtle texture and a natural feel to interiors, but it is also one of the most sustainable fabrics available. It is made from the environmentally friendly flax plant, which grows naturally and requires no additional water other than rainwater, and nothing goes to waste – a common by-product of flax is linseed oil, which is often used in wood treatment products. Flax can be grown in poor soil and is resilient to pests ­­and the linen yarn produced is inherently strong and naturally moth resistant, all of which means that it is made to last. While we haven’t yet developed a manufacturing process to recycle linen into new fabrics, it can be turned into a sustainable alternative such as paper or insulation materials for the car industry. Linens are a key part of our sustainable textiles range and include quintessentially English florals in The English Garden collection, while our Belleville range reinterprets bold botanicals for contemporary tastes.


Indigo Stripe/Danube/Linwood

Danube encapsulates a breezy aesthetic with checks, stripes, plains and classic twills and Elba offers plain linens – in 48 shades – that have been dyed and tumbled for a relaxed feel that is perfect for stylish yet understated interiors.

Recycled leather



Leather waste from the fashion industry historically ended up in landfill, so we are immensely proud of our Saddle II collection of upholstery leather which is made using offcuts from shoes and handbags. Available in a range of earthy tones that span Vanilla to Moss to this understated Tan, this sustainable material will lend a timeless, tactile quality to upholstery and is also inherently fire retardant.  


Recycled polyester

Linwood | Fabric | Omega III


Plastic waste is having a huge environmental impact with vast quantities of single-use and disposable plastics ending up in landfill. One solution to this is recycled polyester, a production process that involves melting down existing plastic and re-spinning it into a new polyester fibre. Our Omega III range of polyester plain velvets uses recycled polyester for the velvet pile, which accounts for over 60 per cent of the fabric weight. The weft yarn is inherently fire retardant – therefore replacing the need for a chemical back coat – and the fabric is stain-resistant and extremely durable. The result? A velvet that cleverly utilises synthetic waste yet resembles a more expensive cotton velvet. Use it for covering an armchair, sofa, or headboard, or for making sumptuous velvet curtains. The collection features no less than 75 colours, so there is a hue for every scheme.


Locally produced fabrics



Sourcing and producing in the UK is an important way to reduce our environmental impact, and the Ollaberry & Roxburgh collection exemplifies this by using pure Shetland wool that is woven in Lancashire. Defying trends, this classic range of naturally sustainable fabrics encompasses traditional plaids, windowpane checks, stripes, herringbone weaves and plains which are all perfect for bringing a timeless aesthetic to upholstery or curtains.




Westray is another eco-friendly fabric collection that blends pure Shetland wool with cotton to produce sustainable textiles that are also naturally fire retardant. Available in a choice of gentle hues, these environmentally friendly designs will fit into any scheme. With the continued development of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, sourcing a sustainable option no longer means compromising on quality or aesthetics. The wealth of fabrics created using sustainable practices is ever growing, providing elegant, sophisticated options for every interior scheme. Sustainable living has never looked so attractive.




What does sustainable fabric mean? A sustainable fabric is a fabric that is produced with minimum environmental impact. This encompasses fabrics that are made using highly sustainable materials, such as linen and wool; fabrics that are composed of recycled materials that would otherwise go to waste; and textiles that are produced locally, therefore minimising their carbon footprint.


Which fabric is the most sustainable? Fabrics such as hemp and linen are the most sustainable, as they are made from plants that grow naturally and require no additional water other than rainwater. They can be grown in poor soil and are resilient to pests, so they don’t require harmful chemicals such as pesticides.


Which fabric is the most biodegradable? The most biodegradable fabrics are plant-based ones that have not been treated with harmful substances, such as linen, hemp, organic cotton, bamboo, abaca, ramie, and jute. Animal-based fabrics such as leather and wool can also be biodegradable, although not if they have been heavily treated.