“Ultimately, the only wealth, that can sustain any community, economy or nation is derived from the photosynthesis, process green plants growing on regenerating soil” – Allan Savory
Fibers can be made of natural or synthetic components. Natural fibers are plant or animal based. Synthetic fibers are made by human beings. Origin: lab.
Fibers are spun into yarns and yarns make fabric. The clothes we wear are made from fabrics. Most synthetic fibers go through a similar production process. A chemical process usually polymerization, prepares and combines the components for the fiber. The materials are chemically converted, dissolved, or melted, turning into a thick liquid. A spinning process produces the fiber by passing the thick liquid through a spinneret. A twisting process twists the filament fiber into a yarn.
Synthetic fibers: Polyester, Nylon, Rayon, Spandex, Acrylic and modacrylic, Fluropolymer, Polyolefin, Carbon and graphite, Aramid and polyimide, Acetate and triacetate, Elastomeric fibers and many more.
Why is synthetic popular? Single reason for synthetic being so popular is its cost. Synthetic is inexpensive. They are also strong and thermoplastic, low absorbency, easy care and abrasion-resistance. But synthetic melts when hot, uses petrol, is non-renewable and can be an allergenic.
Now while making clothes synthetic fabric goes through many chemical process, it is dyed and finished with synthetic dyes and chemicals before it reaches us. So the “harm” on our synthetic clothes is not done once but multiple times. This does not end here. To make synthetic outfit a commercial success, they are often topped with a “special finish”. This finish is on top of all the conventional chemicals required to make fabric. Synthetics can melt when hot, or can burn easily. So often synthetic clothes come with flame resistance finish, especially for children’s clothes. There are many other finishes which are incorporated on synthetic fabrics to seek attraction while selling in the stores. Like wrinkle resistance, stain repellent etc. These finishes can be toxic chemicals, harmful for our health. Studies have time and again linked the chemicals used for these finishes with various diseases.
Check out your gym clothes and sportswear. They are mostly synthetic and with many finishes. Are we trying to be healthy by wearing unhealthy clothes? Think about it and do your research. Look in your closet and see how much synthetic you have in there.
From start to end of apparel manufacturing, many toxic chemicals are used and these toxins are not completely removed after the manufacturing process, finding an easy entry into our body through skin. In addition, researches confirmed that plenty of unhealthy conditions and diseases come from the excessive wear of polyester fabrics, generating problems such as skin cancer, chronic and severe respiratory infections as well as skin problems such as rashes, itching, redness and dermatitis. Some disorders such as reduced sperm count out and behavioral changes are also associated with the constant wearing of polyesters clothes. Not only is polyester harmful for people also it is dangerous for the environment since it is not biodegraded and its production disposes toxins in the water and emits lots of pollutants in the air.
Things get even worse when we wear polyester, acrylic, nylons all day and then we sleep on synthetic sheets with synthetic comforter on. Don’t forget to check labels on sheets and comforters too. Industry is forcing a “synthetic wear world” around us. Don’t get fooled and save your skin.
In an article published in The Guardian on October 27, 2014, “Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you have never heard of”, ecologist Mark Browne after months of tediously examining sediment along shorelines around the world, found something no one had predicted: fibers. Everywhere. They were tiny and synthetic and he was finding them in the greatest concentration near sewage outflows. In other words, they were coming from us.
85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing.
By sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines, Browne estimated that around 1,900 individual fibers can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment – ending up in our oceans.
It is not news that microplastic – which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as plastic fragments 5mm or smaller – is ubiquitous in all five major ocean gyres. And numerous studies have shown that small organisms readily ingest microplastics, introducing toxic pollutants to the food chain.
Alarmed by his findings, Browne reached out to prominent clothing brands for help. He sought partnerships to try to determine the flow of synthetic fibers from clothing to the washing machine to the ocean. He also hoped his research might help develop better textile design to prevent the migration of toxic fibers into water systems.
The reaction wasn’t what he expected. He contacted leaders in the outdoor apparel industry – big purveyors of synthetic fabrics – including Patagonia, Nike and Polartec. But none of these companies agreed to lend support.
Browne’s findings can be true. It can only be found out further if industry supports him and more research is done.
Ultimately the sufferers are consumers and planet earth. We can reverse this damage being done to us. No one can cause this damage to our lives if we don’t allow. We have to just start cutting our synthetic consumption. Start looking at the labels and educate yourself about label reading. Read other articles on my blog to know more about healthy wear.
Feel the difference when you wear 100% organic cotton, as compared to synthetic. Our body talks, signals and tells us when a problem arise. Rash, burning sensation, itch, skin allergy, redness are the ways our body react and speak to us. Save your skin. Its biggest organ of your body. Let your skin breathe on organic cotton clothes.
Open your closet to natural fiber made clothes and limit synthetic.
Your skin will thank you for that.
- Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN