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Article: Polyester - Really??

Polyester - Really??

Shopping is an inevitable and perhaps enviable part of my job as a clothing designer. Living in San Francisco gives me ample opportunity to drop into clothing boutiques to scope out inspirational colors, styles and fabrics. There are also endless online resources at my fingertips promoting the latest fashion news, trends and forecasts

High End’ Synthetic Clothes

Lately I’ve been dismayed to see how much synthetic clothing is out there, even from better, relatively expensive brands. In my most recent foray I spotted numerous dresses in the $200 - $300 range made with polyester, attractive sweaters made primarily with acrylic, and endless nylon active-wear garments. For the price I’d much rather buy a silk dress, a wool sweater and breathable cotton active wear. Wouldn’t you?

Many of the nylon athleisure styles are not even meant for an actual workout but rather for streetwear. It’s hard for me to rationalize making casual clothing with anything besides comfortable breathable natural fabrics such as cotton. You might chose a synthetic if you’re doing a hot sweaty workout, but for anything else? Not me.

Cover Yourself in Petrochemicals?

I’m not fond of wearing petrochemicals, and I wonder, is there really anyone out there who likes the way polyester and nylon feels against their skin?  It feels like (and is) plastic. It’s suffocating to wear because it doesn’t breathe. It pills after a few washings, sending micro plastics into the ocean, and collects all kinds of hair, lint, and other assorted dryer debris. 

Taking into account the toxic nature of synthetics and the fact that your dress will be off-gassing toxins in some landfill for 20 years after you’re done wearing it should give anyone pause.

Here are some fun facts about toxic synthetic fabrics:

  • Polyester is a synthetic created by a chemical process from substances extracted from oil.
  • Oil refining is a prevalent cause of global warming,
  • Mining for these non-renewable resources (coal and petroleum) destroy natural habitats during the process.
  • The manufacture of polyester and other synthetic fabrics is an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil and releases toxic emissions into our atmosphere and waterways.
  • The manufacturing of polyester includes finishing treatments such as formaldehyde, PFOA’s and PFC’s which have been shown to be toxic to humans.
  • Dyeing synthetics is one of the most toxic and water intensive processes in the apparel industry.
  • Washing polyester results in micro-plastics that pollute our oceans and kill sea life.
  • Heating polyester clothing, as in the dryer releases antimony which impacts the heart, lungs, and stomach.
  • Much of todays ‘fast fashion’ is made with cheap synthetics that end up in landfills.
  • Polyester and nylon are non-biodegradable, so they are inherently unsustainable.

Reasons to Invest in Organic Cotton

Instead of buying synthetic clothing, consider purchasing natural fabrics. Buying high quality organic cotton clothing is truly an investment in your wardrobe and better for the planet.

Natural fabrics wear well longer and feel great when you put them on – soft, comfortable and breathable.

Next time you shop, check for fabric details and consider the advantages of natural, organic fabrics.

Blue Canoe – founded on organic cotton

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