Tights are one of my go-to cold-weather looks. They are perfect with boots and a skirt for brisk Autumn days. However, most tights are made from plastic and their production and disposal results in emissions and pollution.
Tights have been described as the “plastic straws of fashion”. Old-school tights are usually made from nylon, a plastic-based synthetic fiber that comes from coal and crude oil. The production of nylon uses a huge amount of energy and generates nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
On top of that, nylons are generally not recyclable. Once you get a run in your tights and throw them out, (which happens to me way too quickly,) it takes at least thirty years for nylon tights to decompose (and quite often, longer).
Fortunately, some brands are starting to make eco-friendly tights out of different materials that have less damaging production processes and afterlife than synthetic materials. Some tights that are labeled ‘eco-friendly’ are made from recycled nylon, which helps to divert waste nylon from landfills but still isn’t an ideal material. Some better material options are described below.
Materials Used for Eco-Friendly Tights
When you’re looking for pairs of tights that are less polluting than traditional stockings to add to your sustainable fashion wardrobe, look for materials such as:
This is a brand of regenerated nylon, made from ocean and landfill waste, such as carpet, fishing nets and industrial plastic. However, this synthetic fabric is not as environmentally friendly as a natural fiber.
This diverts waste away from landfills, and uses fewer resources to produce than traditional nylon. Again, it’s not as good for the environment as natural fibers.
Scraps of material left after the yarn is cut
Waste materials are a more sustainable option than virgin synthetic materials as they stop the wastage of fabric, but, when it comes to nylon, it’ll still mean that the same energy and resource is used to create the initial fabric and the tights will end up in a landfill.
This brand of polyamide is an extremely thin, stretchy material which is perfect for tights – and it’s of 100% natural origin. It involves farmers cultivating the Ricinus Communis plant, which also does not require much water to grow.
This is made from recycled polyamide monomers, the most common of which is nylon. This has ideal qualities for tights, and stops old nylon going to landfill.
This synthetic fibre gives a use to polyester and consumer nylon waste which had previously been discarded, diverting it from landfill, but it is still made from the common plastic PET.
Not only is bamboo natural, but it’s a highly sustainable plant, with plants growing to full size in just 3 or 4 months compared to other trees which take decades to grow – meaning it’s naturally very renewable. Plus, it requires no pesticides or chemicals to cultivate. However, processing bamboo into textiles can be resource intensive.
While regular elastane is non-biodegradable and the manufacturing process requires a lot of energy, recycled elastane gives these garments a new use rather than going to landfill.
Organic cotton has a more sustainable production process than many other materials, and uses fewer chemicals than its synthetic counterparts – but it does require a large amount of land and water to cultivate.
Here are my 10 favorite brands for eco-friendly tights!
German company Kunert have created the Kunert Blue 90 tights, which are biodegradable. Their fishnet tights are made from old fishing nets and carpets. The brand offers opaque and semi-opaque tights, sheer tights, and matte tights in many colors. They also make socks made from organic cotton and wool. For every pair sold, the brand donates to coastal and marine protection projects.
Check out Kunert
A pioneer in creating more sustainable tights for the masses, Swedish Stockings boasts all zero-waste factories, tights made from materials like polyamide, and production which is powered by renewable energy.
Check out Swedish Stockings
Nordic fashion house Thought uses organic materials such as bamboo rather than virgin nylon for their tights and leggings, making them naturally moisture-wicking and super soft.
Check out Thought
Danish company Dear Denier specializes in sustainable hosiery, made from recycled nylon and other eco-friendly materials. As the company explains, “Our mission is to overcome the environmental and ethical challenges of traditional hosiery production and make the most sustainable products possible without compromising on the quality”.
Check out Dear Denier
The 3D Pantyhose by Aarre are designed to be ultra-comfortable, as well as environmentally friendly. Their high quality tights are made using pre-recycled Q-NOVA polyamide, this production method aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and uses 90% less water than regular polyamide production.
Check out Aarre
Living Crafts offers a range of tights and socks made from natural materials, such as cotton, and sustainable tights made from polyamide EVO.
Check out Living Crafts
This recycled option is made from fabric offcuts, after the yarn has been cut, ultimately saving tons of fabric from going to landfill.
Check out Charnos
Lanius offers a range of tights and socks made from more sustainable materials, such as natural organic cotton and recycled polyamide.
Check out Lanius
The Legwear Co.
Not only are these tights designed to be long-lasting, but The Legwear Co. offer a free ‘Sustainable Hosiery Initiative’ for recycling your unwanted tights to save them from going to landfill.
Check out the Legwear Co.
Made from 90% recycled nylon, you can purchase these leggings and tights knowing that you are helping prevent traditional nylon going to landfill.
Check out Gudrun Sjödén
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