With 'Fast Fashion' in the spotlight and consumed at a rate like never before, I set out to do some research. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty about our eco-friendly fabrics and prove to you that they're completely sustainable.
Well the Naked Truth is, the further I delved, the more I found out that there is no such thing as 100% sustainable! Why am posting this? Because you, the consumer have a choice. And I feel it's my duty to word you up so you have the knowledge to make more informed choices.
Here's another thing I was startled to find out. Just because it's Organic doesn't mean that it's sustainable, or impact the environment in some way.
The word "organic" is a powerful marketing tool. In food and fashion. I mean we all love to believe we're doing our bit to reduce the environmental footprint. But the reality isn't that simple. Your "organic" cotton t-shirt may have actually used up more resources to produce than the conventionally grown cotton. Therefore it could very well have a greater impact on the environment.
Organic cotton comes from plants that have not been genetically modified. Because of this, to get the same amount of fibre from an organic crop means more plants and more land. And that land, of course, has to be irrigated.
FACT - "250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years due to the stress of debt they accumulated through buying genetically modified cotton seeds to keep up with demand."
- Kate Hall (ethical living/fashion advocate)
And get this. The lower yields of organic crops have been linked to higher green-house gas emissions on the industrial farms producing them. And how far cotton travels before it ends up in your closet should factor into the environmental equation too.
Organic cotton does have an advantage over conventional cotton in using less chemicals. Don't be fooled though. It still uses chemicals. Just naturally derived ones. In saying that, there is some evidence that suggests organic pesticides can be worse for the environment than conventional ones. And before the organic cotton garment makes it to the store, it must be dyed and finished-one of the dirtiest and most chemically intensive steps in making clothes. Unless your organic cotton garment is certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard, it is near impossible to guess whether the dying processes used were organic or not.
Let's talk about the environmental impacts of Modal. I know. I was sure there'd be none when I began searching.
As I've explained 100 times before Modal is a luxuriously soft man made fibre that is made by reconstituting cellulose from softwood trees. Like cotton, chemicals are used to produce Modal fabric, just as are bamboo, rayon and lyocell. In the case of Modal, the manufacturing process is closed loop, which means that the chemicals used in processing are captured and reused. The small amount discharged is considered non-hazardous. The finished product is biodegradable and also takes well to natural dyes, eliminating the need for more harmful chemical dyes. Although in most cases modal is still dyed with conventional chemical dyes.
Modal is manufactured from a renewable crop, so the raw material is considered carbon neutral. However, the modal supply chain is known to utilise woodstock that is grown in areas of rainforest that have been clear-felled to make way for mono-crop timber plantations, as well as using ancient woodstock. So it's fair to say some modal in the supply chain is therefore a significant contributor to climate change because of the deforestation of it's rainforests.
In some cases though, modal may well be the most sustainable choice, if not ideal. A biodegradable textile is better than a synthetic one that is made from virgin petrochemicals.
Ok. Let's talk about microplastics.
Microplastics are small, barely visible, pieces of plastic that enter and pollute the environment. They're not a specific type of plastic, but rather any type of plastic that is less than five mm in length.
They can be found in a variety of sources like cosmetics and clothing. Now considering our performance clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles you'd have to assume that tiny fibres escape into our water ways when we wash them. And in turn, end up being ingested by marine organisms.
I contacted a company called GuppyFriend who have the solution to filter out the tiniest microfibres released from textiles during washing. The self cleaning fabric bag is made of a specially designed micro-filter material. Polyamide 6.6 to be exact.
Now in my knowledge there can be naturally occurring polyamides like silk and wool. Then there's the man made polyamides like polyamide 6.6. It is commonly used in making machine parts and carpets. It's disadvantages are that it has poor chemical resistance and high water absorption. Now if this is the case then you would also have to assume that this isn't completely fool proof either.
I am yet to hear back from GuppyFriend who have this 'patented solution'. Which is frustrating considering this kind of thing should be more readily available if it's as good as they say it is. From what I can see it is only available from Patagonia. So in conclusion, I feel like we're being a little ripped off (including our marine life/environment) if we can't all have easier access to such a wash bag. And if this company really and whole heartedly had the environment in mind, why is it patented? So many questions...
Now after reading all of this, what's a consumer to do? The best bet is to stick to this simple ethos. "Buy Less. Choose Well. Make it Last." There's no more certain way to 'Make Your Impact' than to reduce the amount of clothes you buy!
If you're more confused than ever, and left questioning your purchase choices in the past like I am, then I only hope this helps you make better choices in the future.
Apologies for the 'not so light' read tonight WODUP Fam. And If you've got this far, then thanks so much for appreciating the tech stuff like I do.
Sleep easy friends. Don't forget, it's Monday tomorrow! And you know what that means.
Another day to start fresh and Make Your Impact.
Big love to you all.