Is linen biodegradable?

This blog post will answer the question, “Is linen biodegradable” and cover topics like the biodegradability of linen and frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Is linen biodegradable?

Yes, linen is biodegradable. Under optimal circumstances, fine, pure linen can biodegrade in as little as two weeks. This is fast, given that the biodegradation of certain materials might take years, decades, or even centuries!

How to make linen?

By chopping or plucking the flax plant up from the ground, linen fiber may be obtained. When it comes to linen, producing the longest fibers is crucial. For this reason, pulling out the whole plant by hand is a popular practice. In any other case, the roots of the flax stalks are chopped as near as possible.

Winnowing is the method used to get rid of the seeds, much as with grain. The woody stalks are smashed between metal rollers after the seeds have been taken out. They are divided into shorter and longer parts as a result.

The longest fibers are used to make sustainable yarn, which is spun into fabric once the fibers have been collected and sorted.

It is a tedious and arduous procedure if that makes sense. While machinery is employed in the majority of situations, certain linen fiber preparation is still done by hand according to centuries-old custom.

The benefits of linen fabric

We like linen because of its airy simplicity. Linen is a relaxed elegance that is perfect for summer blouses, trousers, business suits, and stylish dresses. But linen and cotton vary from one another in more ways than simply the way they appear.

Because of its special qualities, linen is a fantastic material for both humans and the environment. Is linen a greener option than cotton? Let’s look at it.

  • Sustainable manufacture
  • Carbon positive
  • High water use
  • Pesticide and low fertilizer
  • Least waste
  • Natively grown in Europe
  • Recyclable

I will now elaborate on these.

Sustainable manufacture

In comparison to cotton, linen has a reduced environmental effect during the raw material’s growth.

Carbon positive

The cultivation of flax in Europe captures 250,000 tonnes of carbon annually. the same amount of CO2 emissions that a Renault Clio automobile would produce if it were driven across the globe.

High water use

Compared to cotton, linen can be farmed with much less water. Rainfall alone generally suffices. The most thirsty crop in the world is cotton, on the other hand.

Pesticide and low fertilizer

It is simple to grow linen without the use of chemicals since it is a hardy plant. (Select organic certification to assure that no pesticides were used.)

Least waste

The flax plant may be utilized in its whole. Linseed oil is a typical by-product of flax. The omega-rich flax seeds from the flax plant may also be cultivated for their nutritional benefits.

Natively grown in Europe

Europe produces 85% of the world’s flax, which is wonderful for reducing the carbon footprint of linen. It’s crucial to keep in mind, however, because occasionally raw flax is sent abroad for manufacture. 

The MASTERS OF LINEN® mark should be visible. It is a recognized mark given to linen that was made entirely in Europe, from the field to the yarn to the finished product.


Fabrics made of linen may be recycled to make paper and insulation for the automotive sector.

The drawbacks of linen fabric

A few drawbacks of linen fabric are listed below:

  • Workforce intensive
  • Non-organic linen’s impact on the environment
  • Strong bleaching
  • Creases quickly
  • Elasticity is low

I will now elaborate on these.

Workforce intensive

The processing of linen fibers requires a lot of labor, with most of the procedure still being done by hand. Additionally, weaving it into fibers is more challenging. 

Similar to the production of cotton, if the labor is not supported by fair and secure working conditions, it may result in violations of human rights. Overall, linen is a more costly fabric because of the labor-intensive manufacturing process.

Non-organic linen’s impact on the environment

Not all linen is ecologically good or sustainable. How it is cultivated, whether or not chemicals & pesticides are used, and how the fibers are processed all have an impact. 

Conventional flax is rated Class C while organic flax is rated Class A in the Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibres, which evaluates the effect up to the manufacture of yarn or fabric (but not the complete lifetime of a material). Therefore, choosing organic linen is the most environmentally responsible option.

Strong bleaching

It takes a lot of bleaching to get a pure white color. In this case, embracing linen’s inherent colors is the most environmentally responsible option.

Creases quickly

Just looking at linen will show wrinkles! Ironing presents a challenge in terms of environmental friendliness. Around 7 times more energy is used to iron a shirt than to wash it. The energy use is a little bit greater for linen than for cotton since it takes longer to iron a shirt made of linen.

Elasticity is low

The fibers of linen do not stretch. If the cloth is consistently folded and pressed in the same spot, it will ultimately break. However, as we have seen, linen is also highly robust and long-lasting. Take good care of it so you may pass it on to your great-grandchildren!

The process of growing flax & weaving it into linen requires the least amount of water and energy. The ‘user’ stage has the most influence on the environment. Over the course of a lifetime, washing and ironing linen accounts for around 80% of its energy and water use.

so, is linen greener than cotton? We must focus on the lifetime of cotton in order to provide a solution.

Linen: Is it eco-friendly?

Yes, linen is an eco-friendly fabric.

Although linen has always been a fashion staple, why is it still popular today? You could have heard that it is very eco-friendly or been suggested by a friend. 

What makes linen environmentally friendly and how does it impact the environment? Without a doubt, it’s the reason you’re looking at this website.

Even though linen is one of the most environmentally friendly textiles ever created, it only accounts for 1% of all textile fibers used globally. 

Ten factors make linen cloth environmentally beneficial.

  • Linen is a natural fabric obtained from flax plants
  • The carbon footprint of linen is actually lower
  • Flax needs less water than cotton
  • Flax may be grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizer
  • Flax can be grown and produced locally
  • Offers local hiring
  • There is no waste
  • Linen is recyclable and biodegradable
  • Linen is a strong fabric
  • Flax assists in maintaining ecological diversity

I will now elaborate on these.

Linen is a natural fabric obtained from flax plants

Today, the bulk of the clothing we wear is either manufactured by humans or produced using a lot of chemicals. Flax plants, a plant that thrives without the need for pesticides or fertilizers, are used to make linen. 

It can thus be produced without harming the environment and is a renewable resource with a rapid growth rate.

The carbon footprint of linen is actually lower

One hectare of flax can remove 3.7 tonnes of CO2 from the environment, which is an interesting statistic about linen. That implies that each year, almost 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are eliminated from the total amount of linen farmed in Europe. 

This is equivalent to driving a typical automobile for more than 560,000,000 miles! Or, to put it another way, it saves enough Carbon dioxide to go roughly 22,600 times around the globe.

Flax needs less water than cotton

Tomorrow, if every person in France purchased a linen shirt rather than a cotton one, it would conserve enough water to supply all of Paris for a whole year!

An extremely thirsty plant, cotton. Around four times as much water is required to produce one cotton shirt as it does to produce one made of linen. This typically results in drought and severe habitat damage, which may be fatal for the local inhabitants who cultivate cotton. 

In contrast, European flax plants can often be watered by rainwater alone. In actuality, the process of cultivating flax & weaving it into linen requires the least amount of water and energy. 

According to a survey by the European Confederation of Linen & Hemp (CELC), washing and ironing the fabric accounts for roughly 80% of the energy and water used to produce linen.

Flax may be grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizer

Western Europe’s temperate climates are ideal for flax cultivation, which requires little in the way of pesticides or fertilizers. Flax often approaches the organic norm without trying, which is astonishing. Contrast that with cotton, which is one of the crops that use the most chemicals worldwide.

Flax can be grown and produced locally

Europe is where 85% of the world’s flax is farmed. The cloth doesn’t have to go halfway across the globe to get to your closet if you are a European. Linen emits much less CO2 since there is less shipping and transit.

But first, a strong word of warning. The top flax producer in Europe, France, sold 77% of its harvest to China in 2019 for processing. 

Even if the bulk of this was sent to underdeveloped nations, it is still important to understand where your linen fiber comes from. Whenever feasible, aim to get locally produced, premium European fibers.

Offers local hiring

Flax may provide farmers and businesses in Europe with ethical local employment, which is another advantage of being cultivated locally.

There is no waste

The ability to weave the whole flax plant into a fiber makes linen a particularly ecological fabric since it almost eliminates waste generated during the weaving and spinning processes. 

If it is treated organically without the use of chemicals or powerful colors, it also implies that no water contamination is produced.

Linen is recyclable and biodegradable

Yes, linen is recyclable and fully biodegradable. However, like with any natural material, you should be mindful of how the cloth may have been handled, especially the effects of various colors on the environment. 

To be on the safe side, search for businesses that prioritize minimal impact dyes or, even better, search for naturally occurring, undyed colors like ivory, ecru, tan, and grey.

How long does it take for linen to decompose? In just two weeks, 100% natural linen can start to break down. Make careful to chop it into little pieces to hasten the decomposition process.

Linen is a strong fabric

Since ancient times, linen has been used to create anything from clothing to bed linen to armor. Given that it is one of the most durable materials, it will survive for many years. The more sustainably you dress, the longer your clothing last before needing to be replaced.

Flax assists in maintaining ecological diversity

Flax contributes to ecosystem diversification and provides a nice diversion from intensive agriculture. If you go by a field of flax, you’ll see that it is teeming with animals that support biodiversity and soil renewal.


In this post, I discussed the biodegraadbility of linen, the advantages and disadvantages of linen, and the eco-friendly properties of linen.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Is linen biodegradable?”

Is linen environmentally friendly?

Flax plants, a plant that thrives without the need for pesticides or fertilizers, are used to make linen. It can thus be produced without harming the environment and is a renewable resource with a rapid growth rate.

How long does it take for linen to decompose?

About two weeks

Depending on the weight, linen decomposes in around two weeks. Similar to cotton, linen, a product of the flax plant, is regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly textiles in the fashion business. It may degrade quickly in its natural state without dyes.

Which is greener, cotton or linen?

The environmental effect of linen’s basic materials is lower. Despite using less water & pesticides when grown organically, cotton still utilizes a lot of insecticides. 

Even while the market for organic cotton is expanding, it still accounts for less than 1% of all cotton grown globally.

Is cotton or linen preferable?

It will endure longer since linen is a stronger fabric. While cotton pillows and bedding seem silky when they are new, many washing and usage may cause them to lose their smoothness and start to fall apart. 

However, linen actually improves with aging and becomes softer with time.


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