Wearing plastic-free clothes

Ah. July. The second month of the Summer. The month when we are out enjoying the sun, trying to get a tan(least in Canada anyways).

plastic clothes

July is also plastic-free month, and I want to take this time to encourage everyone to cut down on your usage of all things plastic. Plastic has become a ubiquitous presence in our lives; it’s there in our electronics, in our furnitures, in our clothes and even in our foods. So what does plastic have to do with ethical clothing? Or clothes in general? Plenty. For one thing, so many of our clothes nowadays are composed of polyester and polar fleece, two ‘fabrics’ that are completely made from synthetic fibers such as polyethylene terephthalate, a kind of plastic. Why is that bad? Both are created from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid, substances that are harmful to our health and skin. Many of our modern fabrics are chemically treated and a source of toxins that adversely affect your health and the health of the planet. Here’s a list of six top offenders:

  1. Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.
  2. Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.
  3. Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
  4. Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
  5. Nylon is made from petroleum(read plastic) and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
  6. Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellant. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.

Most of these fabrics have been treated with detergents, petrochemical dyes(more plastic), formaldehyde, bleach and and host of other additives that are toxic to both humans and the environment. So what should we do? Look for these instead:

  • Cotton
  • Tencel
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Wool
  • Cashmere

If you can, try and wear organic clothing/fabric. Even these will involve some processing, but they are still a better alternative than synthetic fabrics such as polyester and fleece. It is also advisable to buy high quality clothes made with more expensive fabrics. Expensive clothing may seem overpriced, but the quality of the raw materials is superior, so it requires little chemical processing to make them suitable for you. They also last longer, so they do end up being a worthwhile purchase in the long-run.

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portrait of William Lee

About the Author

This is Will, current content coordinator at Trusted Clothes. Will is a writer at heart with a journalism print background. An award-winning writer and video producer, Will divides his time between super-heroing at Trusted Clothes and being a complete die-hard Star Trek fan. And wearing funny Captain Picard shirts too.

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