How much do you know about the fabrics up close next to your skin? I don't think there is really enough awareness of the fabrics chosen for the garments which are then placed upon our naked bottoms...
There is so much going on out there on our huge planet when it comes to making fabric. However, the fashion industry is still using, well basically plastic based fabrics, natural fibres but coating them with pesticides or binding plastic based fibres with none-sustainable natural fibres. The toxic combinations are endless.
From a personal point of view, when we have our own babies, we are all so careful about what we put on their skin, yet we think nothing about wrapping them up in fabrics to keep them warm yet are highly toxic!
I decided I wanted to know more because sometimes it can be a minefield when looking at the tag of the garment and on the assumption that ‘if it's being sold, its fine’
Let's start from the top, we need to know what the difference is and where our worldly fibres are sourced from.
So what’s what then? Well, Synthetic fabrics are produced entirely from chemicals so we call these man-made. Semi-Synthetic fibres are mixed with natural fibres and Natural fabrics, are made from plants, animals or mineral based sources.
How I see it, the fast fashion industry has just fulled this synthetic consumption and turned it into a global disaster.
OK so we have a fair idea on how natural fibre is made from where the fabric can be followed back to its original source but what about man-made synthetic fabrics? Ok so, the starting point for most synthetic fabrics is a liquid made from the products of coal, oil, or natural gas. The liquid is forced through the fine holes of a nozzle, called a spinneret. As the liquid emerges from the holes, it is cooled so that it solidifies to form tiny threads. These (plastic) threads are woven together to make fabric.
So let's take a look at Synthetics vs. Natural fibres.
5 things about SYNTHETIC fibres
- Synthetic plastic material such as Polyester, acrylic or polyamide can add up to two-thirds of our clothing made in the UK.
- Synthetic fabrics were developed un 1938 being Nylon. Being long chains of molecules called polyamide aka plastic.
- Synthetic faux fur is acrylic, made from crude oil. During research in 2014, out of nine fibres studied it was reported by the European Commission that acrylic has the worst environmental impact to our planet.
- Synthetic fibres account for 34.8% of microplastic pollution globally. This is known as microfibres which shred from the synthetic clothing.
- Synthetic fibres are known to absorb into your skin. Our skin is a natural barrier of protection to all things nasty, however, we also sweat and when this happened chemicals can move from textiles to the bloodstream via our connective tissue then further into our organ cells.
What we can see quite obviously is that currently the way we have made man-made synthetic fabrics are damaging to us and the planet since its invention from way back in the 1930s era and due to the popularity boom of the 1960s its becoming quite out of hand with it being in 60% of clothes worldwide. How about the flip-side, Natural fibre?
5 things about NATURAL fibres
- Natural fibres can be found naturally on our beautiful planet without being scientific invented
- Natural fibre Wool is the most flame-resistant of the commonly used textile fibres.
- Natural fibre is more sustainable as they are plant-based and they can decompose quickly back into our earth, it requires less energy and its carbon neutral.
- Natural fibres are in it for the long run. That’s right you get more wear out of your natural fibre clothes because synthetic fabrics break down quickly leaving your garment out of shape, piled, and generally unwearable not to mention a little stinky in the armpit area because it doesn’t let your skin breath.
- Natural fibres are a responsible choice. There are some great producers worldwide who need your support to make these amazing natural fibres for fabrics. In this, you are supporting a better way of life for the producers, farmers and their families.
This isn’t about who’s better than the other and yes natural fibres have their dirty ugly side too**. This is about being aware of what you wear every single day of your life, I mean you have a right to know after all. It's about making better choices going forward, now you have the starting point of information start questioning the hell out of your clothes and demand transparency and accountability for what you wear. Spread the story to everyone you know so they have the understanding to choose better, more sustainable fabrics. Wash clothes in a filter bag to catch the synthetic fibres, and buy what you really need because really from how I see it, the fast fashion industry has just fulled this synthetic consumption and turned it into a global disaster.
Never fear HOPE is around the corner. You see we are in the era of INNOVATION. Great word! I believe because, for me, I always see it as something good will come from the bad. Things have to be better these days otherwise what's the point! Take this one company who are using pineapple leaves to create a vegan leather type fabric called Piñatex, which is also using a closed loop system for the materials production! WOW! I have yet to touch & smell this, but from what I’ve heard, it's pretty remarkable.
Would love to hear your thoughts, how can we make us turn the tide on plastic fashion?
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*I have chosen the most obvious fibres in our industry. Not all have been represented in this blog.
**Note, this blog understands that there is another side to natural fibres sourced with animals and plantations harmed. We can save that god awful knowledge & discussion for another blog. Please do not be put off by natural fibres as there are some amazing producers worldwide doing amazing things, but as with everything in life, there are terrible actions being taken harming our animals and agriculture.