After a lot of interest on my Eco Fashion Facebook post about why plastic fashion is a BIG NO NO (yep, even upcycled plastics), I thought I would elaborate. It seems some people don't quite get it (after a bit of research/stalking it turns out most of those people were designers using upcycled plastic textiles - surprise surprise).
So, my point again.
Polyester is a man-made fibre that is manufactured from petroleum, a fossil fuel. It is in the top two most produced fabrics in the world, behind cotton. You can find polyester and polyester blends in A LOT of clothing, lingerie and swimwear. Like A LOT. Just read the tags of the clothing in your wardrobe. I did and it FREAKED me out.
Some argue that recycled polyester textiles, like swimwear made from recycled bottles for example, remove rubbish from the ocean and therefore provides an eco friendly alternative. While it is true it removes "visible" rubbish from landfills and waterways it, along with it's new polyester friend, add tiny bits of plastic called micro-plastic to the waterways just by wearing and washing it. These micro-plastic particles are non-biodegradable and once created they NEVER break down in the environment, they just get smaller.
Over time the garment is worn out. Although polyester can be recycled the wearing out of the garment is key here. That wearing out process means the fabric has lost its bulk fibre. Where has it gone? Well, it has gone down the sink with every wash. Eventually the original garment will end up as tiny micro-plastic particles floating around our poor stress out earth. What is worse is that we can't see them, we can't pick them up and dispose of them, we can only let them float about forever tracking through the systems of every living thing that it encounters.
Even Patagonia, the largest producer of recycled plastic garments, has admitted that it isn't as environmentally friendly as it was once thought. After people get over the excitement and marketing campaigns we soon realise that all that shimmers isn't gold.
Let's compare new polyester to a new natural fibre.
Polyester = petroleum based = petroleum needs to be extracted = non-renewable oil mining/exploration. Once extracted the production of the fabric needs huge amounts of water, chemicals and the use of those petroleum based fossil fuels. The raw materials and by-products are toxic, pollute water and air and cause many health issues.
Eco-dye natural organic fibres = renewable plants = farming and harvesting. The processing of natural fibres are not ideal. They also require water (no where near as much) and clear land to be able to grow the crops however the processes involved are a lot less environmentally damaging and it is renewable. When using eco-dyes the by-products of production breakdown naturally, as does the fibre. Although production of natural fibres has been under the fire for turning rivers blue, like what happened in Tehuacan, Mexico (the world's largest producer of denim) it is usually artificial dyes from fast fashion labels that cause the problems.
The major difference is that when the clothing reaches the end of its life natural fibres break down whereas unnatural fibres don't. They just keep clogging up our already stressed out earth yet they get harder and harder to spot.
In summary, even if your clothing is recycled plastic it doesn't mean it isn't damaging the environment. Choose natural eco-dyed organic fibres, better yet choose natural organic upcycled fibres! Natural fibres include hemp, bamboo, linen, tencel, cotton and more.
So read the clothing label before you buy. It takes 5 seconds. Say no to plastic. While you're at it don't buy plastic things either and pick up your rubbish...
IMAGE CREDIT; http://adolescentactivist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/plastic-ocean