Is Linen Sustainable? Diving Deeper into the Timeless and Ethical Linen Fabric

Is Linen Sustainable? Diving Deeper into the Timeless and Ethical Linen Fabric

In a world where fast fashion and the brands producing it are in competition, sustainability is the only thing that has faced several backlashes.

With fast fashion clothing ending in a landfill as quickly as it comes, the need to know what is ethical fashion has become important.

This is why when we discuss fabrics that are durable and timeless, the name of linen makes our lists. Linen has been a main part of wardrobes for decades, thanks to its incredible features and elegance.

This has made it perfect for fashion enthusiasts. But people often ask that if linen has been common for thousands of years, why we should wear it now?

If you are in that group of people, you might be aware of the negative impacts caused by other fabrics on the environment.

is linen sustainable?

Hence, as the world is becoming aware of the environmental impacts caused by its clothing choices, we must know about linen in that regard.

Therefore, you should ask how linen is made and whether is linen sustainable.

Is it just another fabric that is labeled to be eco-friendly? Let’s dive into the world of linen and check whether it is really sustainable or just another greenwashed fabric.

What Exactly is Linen Fabric?

Linen fabric is naturally derived from the flax plant which produces clothes that are lightweight in nature but extremely durable. While you can dye it in any color you want, you can find linen in natural color palettes.

The growth circumstances of the flax plant can have a significant influence on the final product. Apart from the iconic grey color, linen fabric is also available in ivory, tan, taupe, and ecru.

Though its popularity isn’t as much as it should be, linen is still used to manufacture eco-friendly clothes. Linen products further involve home textiles such as sustainable carpets and sustainable beds.

How can you describe the Sustainability of Linen?

Now that you know what exactly is linen, let’s find out how is linen sustainable in the light of what makes a product sustainable.

1. The Environmentally Friendly Flax Plant

It is clear that linen is derived from the flax plant which turns out to be extremely versatile. To make a viable product, every part of the flax plant is properly utilized.

This makes sure that a very small amount of waste is produced and also ensures the cost-effectiveness of the process.

Another good thing about flax is its resilience and the fact that it requires less water to grow as compared to cotton.

According to the report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, flax uses way less pesticides as compared to other fibers. And most importantly, it can also grow in any kind of soil.

2. Less Wastage is Produced

Another justification for why quality linen is a sustainable fabric is that the flax plant can be transformed into the fabric completely.

This outcome is almost zero waste from the turning and weaving processes. In addition, since its production is natural and requires no toxic synthetic substances, less pollution occurs.

3. Linen has a lower Carbon Footprint

Another reality about linen is that if you grow one hectare of flax together, you can take out practically 3.7 lots of carbon dioxide from the environment.

As an outcome of that, nearly 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide is taken out yearly from the assembling of organic linen in Europe. In simple words, it saves you a sufficient carbon footprint to go all over the planet multiple times.

4. Linen Uses Less Energy

Another reason why linen is called an eco-friendly fabric is its energy efficiency. A lot of energy is wasted when a fabric is manufactured in non-sustainable ways.

Since linen doesn’t need a lot of energy for its production, not only do you save energy, you will likewise save the environment from harmful effects.

5. Linen is both Biodegradable and Recyclable

The best thing about linen is that it is totally biodegradable and recyclable. You will see that in about two weeks, linen starts to degrade.

Furthermore, it is recyclable which makes it a perfect choice if you are looking for a greener alternative.

Sustainability of Linen as Compared to Other Fabrics

Linen vs Cotton: Which Material is More Ethical?

If we check the raw materials that are used, the overall environmental impact is low in the case of linen.

Although organic cotton is considered to be a good option, the manufacturing of natural cotton does involve pesticides.

Sadly, organic cotton only comprises 1% of the overall cotton which is manufactured globally.

Flax plant is inherently resistant to pests and hence needs no pesticides for growth. Although some manufacturers mix quality linen with cotton to reduce costs, the flax plant is still widely used in other sectors.

Linen vs Polyester: Which One Should Choose?

It isn’t unexpected that linen is undeniably more eco-friendly than polyester. The manufacturing system of polyester includes heavy metals and consumes significantly more energy than different fabrics.

Besides, it requires more time to degrade and discharges hurtful toxins in the air when it is washed.

Linen vs Bamboo: Which is Greener?

If you know how is bamboo fabric made, you will know that its production is labor intensive, which questions its ethicality.

Also, the production involves the usage of chemicals which can be harmful to workers. Linen doesn’t need the utilization of any chemicals or synthetics all through the production system.

This makes the production of linen fall under the category of green manufacturing, making it a better choice than bamboo.

Linen Fabric Advantages

The need for sustainable fabrics has now been very important in current times due to their incredible characteristics. Some of the advantages that linen brings to you are


Linen is safe and hypoallergenic, and no chemical-heavy methods are used in its creation. Unlike synthetic fabrics, linen is one of the most biodegradable textiles in the world when left untreated.


Like the flax plant which doesn’t need any pesticides, linen fabric is incredibly strong. It is even moth-resistant, but it softens with washing.


A big advantage of linen is its breathable nature. It is made to withstand high temperatures and absorb moisture. It functions as an insulator by keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer.

What Are the Drawbacks of Linen?

Although flax is good for the environment, the wrong process of harvesting can result in soil erosion.  Another drawback of linen comes in terms of its cost due to its luxurious feeling.

Furthermore, depending on the fiber processor, the retting process can be done naturally by dew retting. In this process, linen stalks are simply cut and left outside to allow natural moisture to soften the fibers.

It can also be done with chemicals such as alkali or oxalic acid. Lastly, linen is prone to wrinkles.


From seed to clothing, linen ticks practically every box of sustainability. It’s a plant-based fabric manufactured from the flax plant, which is inherently pest-resistant, drought-tolerant, and regenerative.

Because flax fiber is exceptionally robust, linen may endure for decades with appropriate care, and when a 100% linen item reaches the end of its life, it is fully biodegradable. All of these factors define how is linen sustainable.


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