are synthetic fabrics really that bad? sustainable fashion
what are synthetic fabrics / fibers?
As its name implies, these types of fabrics are synthetic, which means that it is completely made from human-made materials, unlike artificial, which means that it is human-made but it uses at least some natural ingredients.
And what type of fabric could actually fall under this category? well, not many things apart from plastic derivatives and other man-made chemicals, which as you may know it’s not ideal.
The most common types of these fabrics are polyester, which is a plastic derivative, and nylon, which is obtained from a chemical reaction. These are the two fibers that we are going to talk about in this article.
do synthetic fabrics last longer?
As we have seen before, these types of fabrics cannot be found naturally in our world, nor the materials that they’re made from. But, how does this man-made factor influence the durability of the final garment?
Well, you may remember that one of the fabrics that we were going to talk about was polyester, which is a plastic derivative, this means it shares its properties with plastic, and you can already guess that this means it lasts for a long time, which could be a problem as we are going to see next.
As for nylon, this material is also quite long-lasting and strong, similar to polyester, not only that, but nylon is very strong and is quite a bit resistant to moisture absorption and other factors.
Overall, we can say that synthetic fabrics do last quite some time, are strong, and are quite durable, especially in the case of nylon. However, as we are going to see in a moment, these qualities can be pretty bad and the reason to not purchase garments made with these materials.
are synthetic fibers that bad?
Because these fabrics are man-made and last a really really long time without decomposing, as they are not biodegradable, there is a big problem that arises with garments made from these materials.
Polyester is a type of plastic that does not decompose and pollutes the earth long-term, especially when polyester fabrics are thrown into landfills, this is especially detrimental to the environment. But this is not the only way that polyester can pollute the earth, when you wash these garments, there is a good chance of it leaving behind many microplastics that can end up in the oceans, you already know all the problems that come with that.
As for nylon, this is a fabric that is treated with many toxic chemicals as well, which not only pollute our planet but can have a negative effect on your skin. not only that, but this material is hard to recycle, and at least with polyester, this problem did not exist. And yes, it does last as long as polyester and does not decompose, polluting the earth in the long term as well.
Apart from the environmental issues, which are already a big reason to ditch synthetic fabrics, there are many other cons of these materials such as the negative effects they might have on your skin, the uncomfortable feeling that they might have on garments, and the fact that they can melt easily or that they stick to your skin when they’re wet.
But not everything is at bad as it seems, as some people swear by synthetic materials because they use much less water than others such as cotton. This is true, but you could also make the argument that water is never wasted, it only goes through cycles and the plants are just intermediaries that turn that water into fruits or other plant-based materials (Although there are situations where water is „wasted”, where it could have been used in other productive processes).
Overall, the final verdict is that you should avoid synthetics, the most contingent reason being that they are not biodegradable and they will have a very long-lasting polluting effect. Now we are going to present you with one great alternative to these materials.
why cotton is a better option
We have presented you with some of the problems that come with these synthetic fibers, but how about natural cotton, is this material better than synthetics or not really? We shall find out.
When we are talking about cotton we have to distinguish between regular and organic cotton. The latter is much better in any way shape or form than the other, especially if we are taking into account the environmental and quality aspects of the equation.
However, we are only going to focus on regular cotton, which is not very environmentally friendly or is it intended to be, just to be fair with synthetic materials. Well, if we do this, we have a material that uses quite a bit of water, that is sometimes treated with chemicals when processed, and that is grown with pesticides and other non-environmentally friendly processes. Still tho, at the end of the day, or the century, cotton is biodegradable, it will decompose if thrown away, ending its carbon footprint quickly. This is not true as we have already seen with synthetics.
Overall, cotton is still better for that fundamental reason, the biodegradability, this is a reason big enough to ditch synthetic fabrics completely. Moreover, if you are already going to choose cotton, choose the organic one, as it brings many more benefits, not only environmental. We invite you to check out our article Why is Organic Cotton different from Regular Cotton, to understand what we are talking about.
We hope you have learned today all about synthetic fabrics, with their qualities and weaknesses. If you want to learn more about sustainable fashion and other related subjects, feel free to check the articles linked below or our blog, where we have tons of different articles like these that you can enjoy.
We are thrilled to teach people all around the world 🙂 Also, did you really know what Fast Fashion really is and its terrible consequences for the environment, the planet, the workers, society, and the economy? Do you know exactly what the Slow Fashion or Sustainable Fashion movement is? You should really take a look at these articles about this forgotten and unknown but very urgent and important subject, click here to read „Can Fashion Ever Be Sustainable?”, Sustainable Fashion, Ethical Fashion, Slow Fashion or Fast Fashion 101 | How It’s Destroying Our Planet because knowledge is one of the most powerful strengths you can have, while ignorance is your worst weakness.
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