How to Avoid Hidden Plastics in Our Clothes

How to Avoid Hidden Plastics in Our Clothes

Plastic pollution has become a pressing issue globally, with its detrimental impact on the environment increasingly evident. While we often associate plastic pollution with single-use items like bottles and bags, there's another culprit hiding in plain sight: our clothing. Yes, you read that right. Your favourite shirt or pair of jeans may contain hidden plastics contributing to environmental degradation. In this blog, we'll delve into the world of hidden plastics in clothing and explore ways to avoid them.

Understanding Hidden Plastics in Clothing

Many of the textiles we wear daily are not as natural as they may seem. Synthetic fibres, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, have become ubiquitous in the fashion industry due to their affordability, durability, and versatility. However, these synthetic materials are essentially polymers derived from petroleum, making them a form of plastic.

Polyester, for instance, is one of the most commonly used synthetic fibres in clothing manufacturing. It's favoured for its wrinkle resistance, stretchability, and moisture-wicking properties. However, each time we wash garments made from polyester, tiny plastic microfibers shed from the fabric and enter our waterways, ultimately polluting oceans and harming marine life.

Similarly, nylon and acrylic, while prized for their strength and softness, also shed microfibers during washing, contributing to the plastic soup that pervades our ecosystems. Even seemingly natural materials like cotton can be problematic when they're blended with synthetic fibres or treated with chemical finishes containing plastics.

How to Avoid Hidden Plastics in Clothing

  1. Choose Natural Fibres: Opt for clothing made from natural fibres like organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool, or silk. These materials are biodegradable and have a lower environmental impact compared to synthetics.

  2. Look for Sustainable Alternatives: If you prefer the properties of synthetic fabrics, consider eco-friendly alternatives such as recycled polyester, Tencel (made from wood pulp), or modal (derived from beech trees). These options minimise the use of virgin plastics and often have a smaller ecological footprint.

  3. Check Labels and Certifications: Read clothing labels carefully to identify the materials used. Look for certifications such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or OEKO-TEX Standard 100, which ensure that textiles are free from harmful substances and produced sustainably.

  4. Support Ethical and Transparent Brands: Research brands committed to sustainability and transparency in their supply chains. Many companies now disclose information about their materials, manufacturing processes, and environmental initiatives, helping consumers make informed choices.

  5. Embrace Second-hand and Vintage: Extend the life cycle of clothing by shopping at thrift stores, swapping with friends, or buying vintage pieces. Not only does this reduce the demand for new garments, but it also minimises the environmental impact associated with production and disposal.

  6. Use Guppyfriend or Cora Ball: Consider using washing accessories like the Guppyfriend Washing Bag or the Cora Ball, which help capture microfibers released during laundry cycles, preventing them from entering waterways.

  7. Wash with Care: When washing synthetic clothing, use cold water, gentle cycles, and liquid detergents specifically formulated to reduce microfiber shedding. Avoid overloading the washing machine, as friction between garments can exacerbate fibre release.

While hidden plastics in clothing pose a significant environmental challenge, consumers have the power to drive positive change through their purchasing decisions and habits. By opting for natural fibers, supporting sustainable brands, and practicing mindful consumption and care, we can reduce our reliance on plastics in the fashion industry and move towards a more sustainable future. Let's dress not just for style but also for the planet.

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