Synthetic polyester hurt the planet by putting microplastics in

Synthetic fabrics seem to be great, offering low costs so you get to keep buying the latest fashions, high tech features like wicking sweat, and wrinkle and shrink resistance. This facade of convenience makes them seem like the obvious choice to today’s consumer, however, that has bad implications for the mindset of the consumer, and the planet in the long term. Cheap synthetic clothes will be less durable than a more expensive but better constructed option. Plastic fibers like those in polyester hurt the planet by putting microplastics in the lakes and oceans of the world. The idea that performance or athletic clothes have to be synthetic is also false, and natural fibers, especially those from animals or bioengineered are already used and have more potential. Synthetic fabrics need to be banned.It’s common sense that cheap clothes are less durable, and as such, the fibers of those clothes are drained into the water every time you wash them. Up to 4500 fibers come off off every gram of your laundry. Even though your laundry machine probably drains into a modern sewer system, which ends in a wastewater treatment plant, there is still huge potential for environmental damage. Up to 40 percent of the microplastics make it through treatment, and end up in the ocean and freshwater water bodies anyway. From there, aquatic life will consume it and it accumulates up the food chain. Although the public is very aware of plastic waste in the ocean thanks to shocking images published by activists of animals trapped in large plastic waste and of the large pieces of plastic in the stomachs of dead animals such as albatrosses, what you can’t see is far more dangerous. In 2000 samples of aquatic samples taken by one scientist in both freshwater and the ocean, the waste in the water is 90 percent fibers, far exceeding pellets and larger fragments. Being smaller, these fibers have more surface area, and leach chemicals more quickly, such as bisphenol-A, into the animals that consume the fibers. Chemicals like those have impacts on animals’ and humans’ health including links to cancer among other diseases. Ironically, one of the most harmful fibers is acrylic, commonly used in faux fur, which has been pushed in the past as a environmentally friendly alternative to real fur. Just as fossil fueled energy is not renewable, fossil fueled clothes aren’t either. While energy is also legitimately in need of reform, and it is ideal that we move toward 100 percent renewable energy, with the current systematic dependence on old infrastructure and the slow process of building new power plants, it’s far easier to choose to ban synthetic clothes instead. Since we’re inevitably going to use nonrenewable fuels for energy as well, its best to use as few of those resources as possible on nonessential products. Not only do these products take tons of crude oil to make, they use even more to provide the energy to make them. It’s estimated that 70 million barrels of oil are used to make just polyester every year. The industries that rely on these cheap materials have many non-environmental ethical issues. Fast fashion companies that produce the cheap clothes allow the conditions in which their products are made to fall to incredibly inhumane levels. Sweatshops that have low paid and often child workers often also allow their harmful materials into the environment, possibly dumping the waste of the factories straight into waterways of their surrounding communities. The materials also will not biodegrade for thousands of years adding to the waste problem the world already faces. If you look back in time, the world has only recently so strongly relied on synthetic fibers. For most of human existence, fibers like cotton, hemp, and animal products like leather and wool have been what clothing has been composed of. All it begs of the consumer is to spend more and adopt a different mindset. Rather than purchase impulsively, “fashionable” clothes from these unethical companies, it is possible to choose to spend more on clothes that will last longer, and are produced sustainably.While some may argue that natural products are inferior to synthetic fabrics, especially those in performance applications such as athletics, there’s actually a lot of evidence countering this. For example, merino wool has long been known for its antimicrobial, water repellent, and temperature regulating properties, making it perfect for athletic clothes which you sweat in. Many of these properties are achieved in typical clothes with formaldehyde treatment, a known carcinogen. Evolution has designed many fibers remarkably well since animals need them functionally for their survival. As you can imagine, fur and down feathers, as ethically controversial as they can be today, are inarguably warm in clothes, as they are on the animal from which they were taken. The strength of natural clothing materials ares also difficult to deny. Elite motorcycle racers still choose to suit up in leathers for abrasion resistance rather than any woven synthetic blend. There is still much technology to exploit to produce even stronger materials. Advancements in bioengineering allow spider silk, something previously impossible to harvest, to be harvested from genetically modified microbes in the form of “Biosteel”, a spider silk fiber produced by a German company called AMSilk. Spider silk possesses more tensile strength than steel, yet is lighter than polyester, and is rapidly biodegradable with the aid of a key enzyme. As you can see, as amazing as synthetic fibers be, they are outperformed by material nature created through evolution.It may be hard to imagine now, but one day, with widespread acceptance, we may reach a place where we have no synthetic clothes, and can adopt a more renewable, ethical, and environmentally approach to clothing. Through natural fibers we can preserve the world better for posterity, fight ethically questionable corporate structures, and there is no functionality to lose, and possibly more to gain from bioengineered materials. After all, do you really want toxic additive treated, crude oil derived materials sitting against your skin each day of your life?