Why does organic matter? If we were talking about organic food, you would have an immediate answer: No pesticides, better for me and my family. I would also be willing to bet that about 12 years ago when organic food started becoming more mainstream, you would never have guessed that it would be sold at Walmart or Costco today.
So, why is it that when we talk about organic clothing, most people look at us as if we are a bit crazy? Well, maybe because we are a little crazy, but also because the organic concept and clothing hasn’t been widely discussed – YET.
There are many reasons why organic clothing matters – so many that we decided to break this into a two part post.
Before we talk about the benefits of organic materials, let’s take a step back and talk about the state of the clothing (fashion) industry today.
WE. WEAR. PLASTIC.
I’m not exaggerating, you can check for yourself. Most of our clothes (and that’s especially true if you tend to wear active/exercise clothing) is made of polyester, polyester blend, nylon or acrylic. Those are all plastic based fibers that require petroleum based non-renewable resources to be produced.
Plastic-based fibers will remain in landfills for decades, with the average polyester product likely to survive for over 200 years!!! Repeat! 200 years!!! So, those pair of shorts you wore for a run when you were 20? You will be dead, your kids will be dead, you grandkids will be dead and that pair of shorts will still be somewhere in a landfill. Ideally, you would pass the shorts down for generations, but the reality is that production of clothing has doubled in the past 15 years and utilization has gone down 32%. Chances are, those shorts are in a landfill somewhere – most likely a developing country you don’t even think about.
We are fighting the overuse of plastic everywhere in our lives. We got used to its convenience. It’s cheap, it helps us in our busy daily lives. Plastic was a great invention but did we grow too dependent on it for our own good? How can we break our addiction to plastic? I could go on and on about our addiction to plastic – I almost did! Did you see what we did there? 🙂
Back to plastic in our wardrobe though, so I can stay on topic… why is it so bad?
- For the people who work in garment production – so many chemicals, a lot of them carcinogenic
- For our waterways – 20% of all water pollution comes from textile treatment
- For our skin – non-breathable and full of chemicals
- For the planet – plastic is produced using non-renewable resources and the harsh dyes used to treat polyester funnel dangerously into our waterways
The gift that keeps on giving… not in a good way…
To top it off, every time we wash plastic-based clothing, it releases tons of plastic microfibres into our waters. In the report “A New Textiles Economy” by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is estimated that around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres shed during the washing of plastic-based textiles such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic end up in the ocean annually. Its impact to our oceans, marine life and ecosystem is still being studied, but preliminary results show the presence of microplastics in our seafood and many other food items.
According to this article, “even if the amount of plastic shed per load is small, measured in milligrams, it adds up. A paper in Environmental Science and Technology estimated that “a population of 100,000 people would produce approximately 1.02 kilograms of fibers each day.” That’s 793 pounds per year of individual, teeny-tiny plastic shards.
And some of it will reach the ocean. “A large proportion will get caught by the sewage treatment works, [but] even that small proportion that does fall through is going to accumulate,” Napper says. And once plastics are in the ocean environment, “there’s no effective way to remove them.”
It wasn’t always like this. Plastic-based clothes grew in popularity after WWII until it became the default in the fashion industry. What can we do?
- Check your labels and avoid buying clothes made out of plastic-based fibers
- Use wash bags such as Gouppyfriend to catch microplastic from the clothes that you already have
- Buy less. Choose well – pick clothes from natural, organic materials – like yours truly ;-).
Together we can start changing. You can live your best life AND stand up for what matters.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Why Organic Matters” next week. Help us spread the message. Share with your friends – sharing is caring! 🙂 Rebel for Good. Rebel for Change!