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Ethical Fabrics for Contract Furniture | Is recycled, reused or plant based better?


Are you sat at your computer, researching eco-friendly fabrics, trying to work out which commercial fabrics are the most sustainable?

Let us help you. There are different types of ethical fabrics available. These fabrics can be made out of recycled plastic, reused wool or plant based material. All these fabric types have their merits when it comes to being sustainable. However, a great sustainable type of fabric we have discovered is a mixture of wool and flax. Flax naturally makes a material fire resistant and therefore fits within a crib 5 specification. Additional crib 5 treatment on an eco-friendly fabric or additional backing can turn an ethical fabric into being non-sustainable, so it is important to factor this in when looking at ethical fabrics.

Choosing a sustainable fabric for your hospitality commercial furniture is hugely important. If you have an upholstered piece of furniture in a hospitality venue, it is likely that at some point, you will want to replace the fabric within a 5 – 10 year period. Fashions can change, fabrics can wear or food and drink can be thrown over them. Given the nature of how fabrics are used and the likelihood of it needing to be replaced over the years, it is important to choose a fabric that has been manufactured in an eco-friendly way, can be durable and can be disposed of responsibly.

With this in mind, there are 6 sustainable fabrics you need to know about before selecting fabric for your commercial interior design project:

  1. 100% RECYCLED PLASTIC | OCEANIC | The manufacture of this material works to combat marine plastic pollution and achieve a waste-free environment! It is woven entirely from recycled plastic taken from both land and sea.
  2. 100% RECYCLED WOOL | LEAF | Using salvaged yarns from the fashion industry this recycled wool has a beautifully soft finish and tactile touch. Even with a robust quality ‘Leaf’ has a limited impact on the environment.
  3. 33% PLANT BASED | TIERRA | This vegan-friendly material has a 33% plant-based composition. In addition this durable fabric is waterproof, stain resistant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and can also be cleaned with bleach.
  4. RECYCLED POLYESTER FABRIC | ECO TWILL | There are 50 recycled 500ml bottles in every square metre of fabric, so as well as having a low carbon footprint and helping the planet it is also 100 % recyclable itself!
  5. 75% VIRGIN WOOL & 25% FLAX | MAIN LINE FLAX | This is a naturally flame retardant fabric made from sustainable sources. Wild flax has been used in textiles for thousands of years thanks to its strong, long and smooth fibres found inside the stem of the plant.
  6. 83% VIRGIN WOOL & 17% NETTLE FIBRE | NETTLE AZTEC | Made with 17% nettle fibre, this fabric is naturally flame retardant. The beauty of this plain weave is held within its understated aesthetic and sustainable credentials

If you would like to request more information or samples for any of the above fabrics, please let us know and we would be happy to help.

Also it is also important to carefully consider, the longevity of fabrics you select. The Martindale rub count is the measurement used to show the durability of upholstery fabric for its suitability for commercial use. This test looks at how much distress a fabric can take from oscillating discs of sandpaper or wool and is an internationally recognised measurement. The higher the score the more durable a fabric is to wear and tear. For commercial use a score of 30,000 or more is required but rest-assured all fabrics that Inside Out promote are carefully checked for suitability in a commercial setting.

So, in answer to the question, ‘Is recycled, reused or plant based ethical fabric, better for the environment?’, our answer is that all of these fabrics listed above are more sustainable than standard commercial fabrics. However, we like sustainable fabrics which can be:

  • Disposed of responsibly because they are 100% recyclable e.g recycled plastic or polyester
  • Naturally flame resistant, such as the use of flax
  • For UK venues, fabrics where the materials are sourced and made in the UK

Our mission is to bring your creative vision to life in a sustainable way. However, you trust us to do it, we promise the end result will be exciting and extraordinary.

Let’s work together on your sustainable commercial furniture package.

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Inside Out Contracts
Building 16, 42 Creek Road, London SE8 3FN
Sales: +44(0)20 8305 3130
Production: +44(0)20 8305 3136
Design: +44(0)20 8305 3139

Company No. 02841010
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