If you don’t know much about polyester, here’s the short story:
1. Polyester = Plastic.
It is a shortened name for a synthetic, man-made polymer most commonly referred to as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is made by mixing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. That all sounds extremely scientific, but basically, polyester is a kind of plastic. The same kind that’s used to make PET bottles.
2. Polyester is one of the most polluting fabrics out there.
Polyester emits a huge amount of waste into the earth. We already know plastic is super harmful. Even when polyester breaks down, it can only be reduced into microplastics which stay, without biodegrading, in our oceans, land, and water, for more than 200 years. Further, the production of synthetic fibres is energy-intensive and uses large amounts of fossil fuels (each year more than 70 billion barrels of oil are used to make polyester) leading to faster pace of global warming
And it’s not just polyester – Nylon, Lycra, Spandex, Acrylic are all kinds of crude oil derived plastic fibres that resemble polybags more than natural fibres like cotton or wool.
3. It’s not just bad for the planet. It’s also bad for you.
Polyester is not only hard on the environment, but can also be disastrous for sensitive skin. The chemicals can be rough on skin and lead to rashes, while the complete lack of breathability can cause discomfort and body odour issues. The unnatural chemicals are not made for constant human contact. Manufactures love to use polyester because it’s cheap, thus putting all the cost on the customers who suffer and sweat in this sticky material that’s supposed to be cool and refreshing.
If that wasn’t enough – microplastics are now starting to be detected everywhere – from fish in the ocean to tap water. Scientists have recently even detected microplastics in the womb – These particles could cause long-term damage or upset the foetus’s developing immune system, they fear. The particles are likely to have been consumed or breathed in by the mothers.
4. Polyester is not recyclable.
Did you know that polyester clothing cannot be recycled into anything else? If you’ve heard of the term recycled polyester – it’s important to remember that it is PET bottles that are recycled into polyester fabric, and not discarded polyester clothing.
This means that every polyester containing garment that you throw away sits in a landfill and pollutes our land and water supply for centuries. Take a minute to let that settle in.
5. If polyester is so bad, why is it everywhere?
Due to its low cost and ability to mimic the hand feel of other fabrics, polyester has snuck its way into fashion. While a lot of people dislike the experience of wearing polyester, most end up compromising due to a lack of sustainable/natural fabric options and the extreme price advantage it offers.
In the end, this ends up creating more plastic waste as polyester clothes are generally thrown away faster due to their short life span and low quality construction.
4. What can we do to help?
Well for starters – the planet and your skin will thank you for not buying any more garments that contain polyester. In this era of fast fashion, polyester clothing is easier than ever to buy. This is why it’s important to be conscious and aware while shopping for clothes and check the composition before buying any new article of clothing.
For item’s you have already purchased, try to use them for as long as possible. When you are done, try to donate the clothes so that they continue to be used rather than be sent to the landfill. This helps to maximise the utility of the clothes, hopefully leading to a reduction of new polyester being added to our environment everyday.
To avoid micro-plastic pollution, polyester containing clothes should be washed in garment bags to prevent tiny plastic fibres from entering our water supplies. This is because the micro-plastic fibres are too small to be caught in the washing machine filters and end up going straight in to our water sources.
We hope this was a good primer on just how bad polyester is for our planet and for us. At Creatures of Habit, we’ve made it our mission to make everyday clothing that’s better for you, and our planet. That’s why we only use the highest quality all-natural yarns from across the world to make clothing that lasts longer, feels softer and breathes better than anything you’ve worn before. All while loving the planet 😀