Eco-Friendly Crafting: 10 Sustainable Textile Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Choose sustainable materials
  2. Reuse fabric scraps
  3. Opt for natural dyes
  4. Invest in quality tools
  5. Limit water use
  6. Buy in bulk
  7. Use energy-efficient equipment
  8. Create useful items
  9. Maintain your equipment
  10. Recycle or compost waste materials

If you're into textile and fiber arts, you're already part of a tradition that values handcrafted, unique pieces. But how about adding another layer to your craft—making it more eco-friendly? Here are 10 tips to help you weave sustainability into your fiber arts projects. These tips are not only good for the planet, but they can also add depth, texture, and character to your work. So, let's start with the most basic step: choosing sustainable materials.

Choose sustainable materials

When it comes to sustainable textile and fiber arts, the materials you use can make a big difference. By choosing environment-friendly materials, you're not just creating beautiful art; you're also doing your part in saving our planet. Here are a few materials to consider:

  • Organic cotton: Unlike traditional cotton, organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides. It's not just softer and more durable— it's also better for our environment.
  • Bamboo: This fast-growing plant is a sustainable source of soft and absorbent fiber. Plus, it's naturally resistant to pests, which means it's grown with less pesticides.
  • Hemp: Hemp is a strong, durable fiber that grows in a variety of climates. It requires less water than cotton, making it a more sustainable choice.
  • Recycled fibers: These are made from used materials like plastic bottles or old garments. By choosing recycled fibers, you're helping to reduce waste and conserve resources.

Remember, the goal is not perfection, but progress. Even small changes can add up over time. So next time you're shopping for materials, take a moment to consider their environmental impact. Your choices can help shape a more sustainable future for textile and fiber arts—and our planet.

Reuse fabric scraps

As an artist in the realm of sustainable textile and fiber arts, you're probably no stranger to the piles of fabric scraps that come with every project. Instead of tossing these scraps into the trash, why not breathe new life into them? It's an awesome way to minimize waste and make your craft even more sustainable.

Wondering what to do with these small pieces? Here are some creative ideas:

  • Collages: Use fabric scraps of different colors, patterns, and textures to create vibrant, textured collages.
  • Patchwork: Sew together different pieces to create patchwork items like quilts, bags, or even clothing. It's a fun way to merge different designs into one unique piece.
  • Stuffing: Small fabric pieces make excellent stuffing material for pillows, toys, or pincushions. It's a great way to repurpose materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • Decorations: Fabric scraps can be used to make cute decorations, such as tassels, bows, or even handmade jewelry.

So, the next time you find yourself surrounded by fabric scraps, get creative. You'll be surprised at what you can come up with. And remember, in the world of sustainable textile and fiber arts, nothing goes to waste.

Opt for natural dyes

Artificial dyes might give you a wide variety of colors, but they can also be harmful to the environment. They often contain chemicals that can pollute water sources when they're washed away. So, what's an eco-conscious artist to do? The answer is simple—switch to natural dyes.

Natural dyes are a great alternative. They're made from things you can find in nature like plants, fruits, and even some types of soil. This is a win-win: you get to enjoy creating beautiful and sustainable textile and fiber arts while also protecting the planet.

Here's a quick look at a few natural dye options:

  • Turmeric: This spice can create a rich, golden hue. Plus, it's easy to find in most grocery stores.
  • Avocado pits and skins: Believe it or not, these can give a lovely pink shade. So, next time you make guacamole, save those pits and skins!
  • Beetroot: If red is more your color, beetroot is your friend. It produces a vibrant, earthy red that's truly unique.
  • Black beans: These can give a range of blues, from pastel to deep navy, depending on how long you soak your fabric.

With natural dyes, you can experiment with different ingredients and methods to achieve a variety of shades and tones. So, why not give it a try? Your sustainable textile and fiber arts will not only look good but also feel good.

Invest in quality tools

Quality matters, especially when it comes to tools for sustainable textile and fiber arts. Why, you ask? Well, investing in high-quality tools can actually save you money and reduce waste in the long run. Let me explain.

Good quality tools not only last longer, but they also perform better. This means you spend less time and energy fixing or replacing them, and more time creating. And because they are more durable, they end up in the landfill less often.

Here are a few tips to guide you in choosing the best tools for your craft:

  1. Material Matters: Opt for tools made from sustainable materials. For instance, bamboo knitting needles or crochet hooks are a great eco-friendly choice. They're not only durable but also biodegradable.
  2. Buy from Responsible Brands: Support companies that prioritize sustainability. Look for brands that use recycled or sustainably sourced materials, and have fair trade and ethical labor practices.
  3. Choose Versatile Tools: A tool that can serve multiple purposes reduces the need for buying more. For example, a pair of good quality fabric shears can be used for cutting patterns, trimming seams, and even for detailed embroidery work.

Remember, investing in quality tools is not only an investment in your craft, but also in the planet. So, next time you need a new tool, consider its impact on your sustainable textile and fiber arts practice, and on the environment.

Limit water use

Water is a precious resource and limiting its use is a key step in sustainable textile and fiber arts. The textile industry, in general, is one of the largest consumers of water, but with conscious efforts, we can change that narrative.

For instance, did you know that wet felting, an ancient method of making fabrics, can be quite water-intensive? But don't worry, there are ways to reduce water consumption in this process too. You can reuse water throughout the felting process or even opt for dry felting methods instead.

  1. Reuse Water: Keep a bucket handy to collect water that can be reused in your craft, or for watering plants.
  2. Try Dry Techniques: Techniques such as dry felting or needle felting use no water at all. They rely on special barbed needles to interlock the fibers.
  3. Smart Washing: When washing textiles, wait until you have a full load. This not only saves water but also energy.

By being mindful of your water use, you can make a significant difference to the environment. After all, every drop counts when it comes to sustainable textile and fiber arts.

Buy in bulk

Another tip for sustainable textile and fiber arts is to buy materials in bulk. Now, you might be thinking, "Isn't that just going to lead to more waste if I don't use it all?" Not necessarily.

Buying in bulk can actually be a good way to cut down on packaging waste. Instead of buying several small packages of yarn, for example, you could buy one large bundle. This means less plastic waste and often, a lower cost per unit— a win-win for you and Mother Earth.

  1. Storage: When you buy in bulk, remember, proper storage becomes even more important. Store your materials in a dry, cool place to prevent them from getting damaged.
  2. Share: If you have more than you need, share with your fellow crafters. It's a great way to foster community while reducing waste.
  3. Plan: Try to plan your projects ahead of time, so you have a clear idea of how much material you need. This way, you don't end up with excess that goes unused.

So, next time you're stocking up on materials for your textile and fiber arts projects, think about buying in bulk. You'd be surprised at how much of a difference it can make!

Use energy-efficient equipment

One of the biggest ways you can make your textile and fiber arts more sustainable is by using energy-efficient equipment. This might seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference over time.

Let's talk about sewing machines for a minute. Some older models can be real energy hogs. By switching to a more energy-efficient model, you can reduce your carbon footprint without having to compromise on the quality of your work.

Consider upgrading to a sewing machine that has an 'energy star' rating. These machines are designed to use less electricity, making them a great choice for eco-friendly crafters. Plus, they often come with added benefits like quieter operation and longer lifespan.

  1. Unplug: Remember to unplug your equipment when not in use. It's a simple habit that can save a lot of energy over time.
  2. Service: Keep your machines in good working order by having them serviced regularly. Well-maintained equipment runs more efficiently and lasts longer.
  3. Research: Do your homework before investing in new equipment. Look for machines that have good energy-efficiency ratings and positive reviews from other crafters.

So, the next time you're in the market for a new sewing machine or other crafting equipment, make the sustainable choice. Your future self—and the planet—will thank you!

Create useful items

Creating sustainable textile and fiber arts isn’t just about the materials and tools you use—it's also about what you make. When you create items that are not just beautiful, but also useful, you're contributing to a more sustainable world.

Think about it: If you make a gorgeous wall hanging, it may look great, but it doesn’t really do much else, right? On the other hand, if you craft a beautiful and durable tote bag, it has both form and function. Someone can use it to carry groceries, reducing the need for plastic bags. Now that's a win-win!

Here are a few tips on how to make your crafts more useful:

  1. Functional Art: A stunning quilt can also serve as a cozy blanket on chilly nights. A handwoven basket can store toys or magazines. A beautiful rug can warm up a room.
  2. Long-lasting: Make your items to last. If they can be used for years, or even passed down through generations, they won’t end up in a landfill anytime soon.
  3. Repairable: Design your items so they can be easily repaired. A button that can be sewn back on or a seam that can be mended extends the life of your creations.

By creating useful items, you're not only reducing waste, but you're also giving people a sustainable alternative to mass-produced items. It's another way you can put your love of textile and fiber arts to work for the good of the planet.

Maintain your equipment

Let's face it, sustainable textile and fiber arts rely heavily on the tools of the trade. These can range from sewing machines and knitting needles to looms and spinning wheels. Just like a car, these tools need regular maintenance to function well and last longer.

Think of it this way, a well-maintained sewing machine can last for decades instead of years, reducing the need to buy a new one. Fewer machines produced means less strain on our planet's resources. It's a small change that adds up over time.

Here are some practical ways to keep your tools in top-notch condition:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Dust and lint are the enemies of most textile equipment. A quick clean after each use can work wonders for the longevity of your tools.
  2. Routine Check-ups: Regularly inspect your tools for any wear and tear. This could be as simple as checking the sharpness of your scissors or ensuring your sewing machine is properly oiled.
  3. Proper Storage: Keep your tools in a dry, cool place. Humidity and heat can cause rust and other damage over time.

And remember, if a tool breaks, try to repair it before replacing it. Many local craft stores or online videos offer great advice on how to fix common issues. So, next time your sewing machine acts up, don’t panic—there's probably a simple solution!

Maintaining your equipment doesn’t just save you money—it’s a simple and effective step towards more sustainable textile and fiber arts.

Recycle or compost waste materials

Did you know that even the smallest scraps from your sustainable textile and fiber arts projects can have a second life? Instead of tossing those bits of fabric, yarn, or thread in the trash, consider these eco-friendly options:

  1. Recycle: Some cities offer textile recycling programs. Check out your local recycling center to see if they accept fabric scraps. If not, there are online platforms where you can send your scraps to be recycled.
  2. Compost: Natural fibers like cotton, silk, wool, and linen are biodegradable. You can add them to your compost pile or bin. They will break down over time and turn into nutrient-rich compost for your garden.
  3. Reuse: Small scraps can be used for stuffing pillows, toys, or even crafting smaller projects like bookmarks or keychains. It's a fun way to stretch your creativity!

Recycling or composting waste materials is a fantastic way to reduce the impact of your craft on the environment. It's all part of the sustainable textile and fiber arts journey. So, the next time you find yourself with a handful of fabric scraps, remember: Waste not, want not!

If you're inspired by eco-friendly crafting and want to incorporate sustainability into your creative career, check out the workshop 'How to Create a Sustainable Career' by Chase Coy. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips on how to make your creative pursuits more environmentally friendly and sustainable for the long term.