Harmful and Synthetic Fabrics

An important note to make before you read the below is all of the synthetic fabrics listed as well as the less widely used synthetic fabrics are produced in a way too toxic to be produced in countries like the UK and US due to health and safety regulations.

They are mass produced in countries such as China and Uzbekistan with lax pollution controls and worker rights, they are usually countries under dictatorships so the people have no say. Chemical waste is usually dumped into lakes and rivers polluting them and poisoning the local population.

 

Workers are either child slaves or adults forced into labour, and if they aren't they are exploited through poor wages forced to do inhumane hours and are in unsafe working conditions which put them at a higher risk of strokes, cancer, nerve damage and heart disease to name a few.

As consumers we have the power to change this.

Disclaimer​

The fabrics listed are the most common synthetic materials used in fast fashion today. They have slowly become the second biggest polluter in the world and the biggest contributor to micro-plastic pollution across the world.

We are not saying you should buy our organic clothing, or not wear these fabrics. The choice is yours to make but we are giving you this information so you can make a conscious and informed decision on whether you wish to wear it or how much of it you wish to wear. 

Polyester

Fossil fuel-based fabric

 

Reasons to avoid:

The most dangerous and harmful material used in fast fashion today making up 60% of our clothing.

Key ingredients: Coal, petroleum, air and water which is combined with thousands of other harsh chemicals creating polyethylene terephthalate, a type of soft plastic which is what we call polyester.

Impact on your health: Carcinogenic mutagen (causes cancer), chemicals are absorbed by your skin when worn due to your body heat warming the fabric.

Can cause skin cancer, contact dermatitis, rashes, redness, swelling as well as other health complications upon contact with sensitive skin.

Releases nano-particles of plastic when worn due to body heat which cause respiratory problems as well as enters our bloodstream and our water systems when washed. New studies show that we have over 125 trillion of these particles in our ocean, that's more plastic than plankton.

Fish are eating this plastic, it then becomes imbedded in their skin and organs causing mutations and changes to the gene structure.

 

This polluted water also makes it way back into our water systems and then our food which is grown with this water and consumed by us.

Quality: Cheaply made, lasting only a few wears - 3 years.

Little to no breath-ability which traps moisture and heat between the fibres (ever sat on a leather seat with bare skin in the summer? That's what polyester is like in the summer due to being plastic).

Impact on our environment: Non-degradable - breaking down process takes decades.

Fossil-fuel based which causes a constant release of greenhouse gases that continues to pollute our planet. Contributing to climate change when produced and even when worn.

Uses more than 70 million barrels of oil a year, requiring double the amount of energy to produce compared to cotton.

Nylon

Fossil fuel-based fabric

Reasons to avoid

Nylon is another material that is partly made up of petroleum, and given a permanent chemical finish which is released upon sweating, while also having no breath-ability. It is treated to be wrinkle-free the same as Polyester but again these chemicals negatively affect our health as well as the environment around us using nearly 70 million barrels of oil a year.

When nylon, or any synthetic material is washed it lets off microscopic plastic particles that go into our water systems, oceans, and lakes. Research shows the chemicals inside also leak into our skin when we sweat and they have a risk of causing skin cancer, rashes and itches as well as other health issues.

Nylon is also non-biodegradable and releases a gas upon production that is 300 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide which makes you wonder why it is so widely used.

The manufacturing process uses carcinogens, and chemicals with the waste being dumped in the countries it is produced the same as acrylic and polyester.

Non-organic Cotton

 

Reasons to avoid:

Impact on your healthToxic dyes, pesticides and insecticides used in production can be absorbed through the skin when worn causing allergic reactions, respiratory problems and rashes.

Environmental and community impactIn many standard cotton farms the workers are slaves, with children as young as five working on them.

Uses 20,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton; now think how much a pair of your jeans, a crewneck or hoodie weigh and how much cotton clothing is produced and sold.

43 million tons of pesticide-alden dust blown into the air every year. Causing the Aral Sea region to suffer from the highest rate of throat cancer in the world.

Uses 4 per cent of all pesticides and 10 per cent of insecticides in the whole world which pollute eco-systems and water supplies.

Causes rain water to fall that contains pesticides in countries it is produced.

Causes drought in the countries it is produced through its massive water consumption. Did you know it caused the Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia to dry out which was once the worlds fourth largest lake?

Acrylic

Fossil fuel-based fabric

Reasons to avoid

Key ingredient: Acrylonitrile a colourless flammable liquid that is derived from polypropylene plastic which is then mixed with coal or potroleum as well as other harsh chemicals.

Impact on your health: Carcinogenic mutagen (causes cancer), enters skin when worn due to body heat.

Mixed with petroleum or coal during production as well as other harsh chemicals which vary. These may also be released when worn due to body heat.

One of the least breathable form of textile in the world.

Can cause contact dermatitis, rashes, redness, swelling as well as other health complications upon contact with skin.

Impact on our environment: Non-degradable - breaking down process takes decades. Fossil-fuel based which causes a constant massive release of greenhouse gases when made. Uses massive energy consumption to produce

Cost: Cheaply and quickly produced: Providing fast fashion brands quick turnarounds and high profit margins

Rayon (viscose)

Fossil fuel-based fabric

Reasons to avoid

Rayon is made from bamboo and trees but the production method is toxic to the people producing it as well as the environment around it due to the release of greenhouse gases. Due to it being produced with bamboo and trees it is also a contributor to deforestation which leaves the ground infertile.

Another name for rayon is viscose, and it is usually a soft and silky fabric. It is produced through breaking down the plant materials using a chemical and machine process which involves sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide into a viscous liquid which is then spun into threads using sulphuric acid (makes you wonder why we're allowed to wear this on our skin).

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