Clothes. They are so widespread that everyone
has some in their wardrobes, from the minimalists
with just a few t-shirts and a pair of jeans to
the fashionista with an overflowing wardrobe.
It's illegal to walk outside without them and I am
ready to bet you are probably wearing some right now, but have you stopped one moment to read the label?
If you care about what you put on your skin, it should be straightforward that clothes should receive the same amount of scrutiny. If you don't start thinking about the chemicals used in production ( glues, colorants), and just focus on the primary matrerial you would notice that most modern clothes contain at least some synthethic fibers. Chances are that what you are wearing right now contains at least one of the following : polyester, acrylic, spandex, viscose, rayon.
Do you really want plastic on your skin everyday? Have you noticed that it makes you "sweat" (and sometimes smell) more? Try going for your run wearing cotton (or when cold a thermal made of merino) and then try the same run with some polyester top or thermal, so call "breathable" not so breathable. Use a linen shirt in your summer holiday and you will be able to withstand the warmest of cities better than with a polyester filled shirt. Try bamboo socks.. Just me?
If this is not enough to convince you to read your labels and switch to natural fibers, I am gonna try another line, which was enough to convince me even more to have a wardrobe with as many natural fibers as possible. Do you know that everytime your clothes are washed by the washing machine they lose some of their fibers? It's not something we think about, washing clothes is often a daily/weekly chore that it's not associated with polluting. Perhaps we choose environment-friendly soap, but do we ever think that clothes itself could be a source of pollution? The fiber lost are referred to as microfibers, often not visibile from the naked eyes. As the outflow from the machine goes through wastewater treatment plants most microfibers pass through, straight into our oceans, contributing to plastic pollution. A study has found that when synthetic jackets are washed, 1.7 grams of microfibers are shed, of which 40% end up in the oceans. If we think of all the synthetic jackets out there washed everyday....
Plastic pollution is leading to animal behavioural changes amongst other issues which are currently under-investigation, which could lead to big losses in biodiversity. Moreover, microfibers are increasingly found within fish stomach, the same fish that could be on your table today. Plastic pollution effects on humans are still poorly documented (it's after all a relatively new phenomena), but if the effects on animals are any indication....
Some companies, like Patagonia are trying to understand the impact of their products, help funding studies into microplastic and contributing to costumers education, for example on how to care for such sytnthetic garnments to avoid/limit the microfibers loss. What they suggest is : get good quality garnments, keep using it for long period of times to reduce the impact on the planet (valid for most things in my opinion, less we consume the best!), use a filter bag when washing and wash less often.
Of course in my opinion is best to buy things containing as many natural fibers as possible, Bamboo, cotton, wool. It may seem expensive, but you will need less (they last longer!), and if you want something on the cheapest side vintage stores, charity shops (also for a good cause) and markets are great places to find good quality clothes made of natural fibers (particularly valid for woolen items!).
Moreover, you can help the local market by shopping for handmade items if you can afford it, they are often made from locally sourced materials and ethical sourced, and why not get a unique item that brings you good memories? (on this note, check these beautiful and ethical children clothes!!)
Hope this convinced some of you to check your labels, shop more aware, and wash better!
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