Sustainable sewing: no-plastic packaging

There are so many reasons we sew – fun, learning, fashion – and sustainability is high on the list for me. I hate what fast fashion is doing to the planet and don’t want to contribute to it, but sewing your own isn’t automatically more sustainable or ethical. Synthetic fibres, damaging manufacturing processes and poor working conditions aren’t confined to the garment-making industry – they’re all there in the production and distribution of the fabrics themselves, too.

But there’s also another aspect to this I hadn’t considered until recently. Outside of London it can be difficult to find bricks-and-mortar fabric shops, so I mostly buy fabric online – and it often comes wrapped in single-use plastic. I always save padded envelopes where I can but it’s not often possible to reuse plastic wrappers and, although it may seem trivial in the grand scheme of planet-damaging things, the idea of adding yet more of these to landfill just to feed my fabric-buying addiction isn’t a pleasant one.

So, I’ve put together a list of online sewing retailers that use eco-friendly, recycled or recyclable packaging – it’s a work in progress and I’ll add to it as I find more, so feel free to comment with any I’ve missed.

Here’s to stash-shopping without added plastic!

Sewing shops using eco, recycled or recyclable packaging:

  • Backstitch: One of the few online sewing shops I’ve found with a packaging policy on their website, Backstitch have committed to not buying any more plastic packaging and instead use brown paper fastened with brown paper tape. They stock loads of amazing sewing brands too, from Atelier Brunette fabrics to Colette patterns.
  • Merchant & Mills: My recent fabric order from Merchant & Mills (this amazing hand-dyed spot print, if you were wondering) came beautifully wrapped in paper and sent in a brown envelope fastened with string – so nice I had to Instagram it.
  • Raystitch: Another shop with a sustainability policy on its website, Raystitch has switched to fully recyclable paper Jiffy bags, cardboard envelopes and gusset envelopes, plus 70% recycled polythene bags made in the UK that can be recycled with plastic carriers. And their fabrics are seriously stunning.
  • Pin and Sew: This one also has an environmental policy on its website – hurrah! Pin & Sew sell a gorgeous selection of jersey, French terry, ponte and sweatshirt fabrics, all hand-picked by founder Aga and sent out in compostable, degradable and recyclable paper post bags.
  • Offset Warehouse: Offering swoon-worthy fabrics and haberdashery that aren’t only eco-friendly but fairly sourced, Offset Warehouse tick so many thoughtful-sewing boxes. Their packaging is minimal, recycled and recyclable, and the fabrics are packed in tissue to prevent them from moving around in the cardboard box.
  • Faberwood: Faberwood’s unique fabric selection is lovingly curated by owner Fiona Trevaskiss, and as much thought goes into the packaging too – orders are sent in a cardboard box that can be reused or recycled, and also packaged in recycled mailer bags to protect your precious fabric purchase from bad weather during transit.

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