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Problematic Plastics That Could Be Hidden In Your Closet

From associating it with hygiene, groceries, utility and beyond, plastics have slowly become the devil we know and a careless item we’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to. A research by the Ellen McArthur foundation suggests that by 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish — a sizeable chunk of which is coming from our clothes.

Microplastics are nano fibres measuring less than five millimetres that wash out of our clothes and are constantly entering the ocean. The pollution caused from it has exacerbated to such an extent that microplastics have now even been found in the Arctic, which had been considered one of the last remaining pristine parts of the world. Sadly, synthetic clothing is to largely to blame but it pays to know who the biggest offenders are;

1. Polyester 

There’s a very good chance that polyester clothing has made it into your wardrobe more times than not. The fabric is a common plastic that relies on the petrochemical industries for their raw material, making it highly dependent on fossil fuel extraction with a wide application that includes and extends beyond the fashion industry. When it comes to polyester pieces in your wardrobe, it is advisable to keep extending the wears between washes and further upcycling them when no longer in use.

2. Nylon 

From swimwear to activewear, hosiery and lingerie, nylon inhabits a large number of functional items in our wardrobe. Nylon, was in fact the first fibre made entirely in a laboratory and its invention represents the dawn of the age of synthetics. It is a type of plastic derived from crude oil that emits a lot of carbon dioxide while being manufactured. While nylon has been gaining a bad reputation, there are plenty of brands who are working hard to turn that around by opting for sustainable variants like Econyl, that is made from recycling and regenerating synthetic into a yarn that has the same qualities as virgin nylon.

3. Elastane

Whether it’s your yoga tights, stretch denim and anything else that’s form fitting or requires elasticity, elastane is most definitely part of their fibre composition. Also known as lycra or spandex, it is a polyester-polyurethane  copolymer — aka plastic that’s known to be stronger and more durable than natural rubber. However, the fibre’s superior qualities come at a cost for the ocean. Seek out blended stretch fabric made from recycled polyester as an eco-friendly alternative instead.

4. Acrylic

Sweaters, boots, gloves and all things warm, acrylics are cheap substitutes for woollens that are an inevitable part of the winter wardrobe but are by far the biggest offenders on the microplastic pollutant list. According to a study by  Plymouth University, acrylics are the worst culprits that release nearly 730,000 tiny plastic particles per wash. Comparatively, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester.

According to a report, even if countries worldwide aggressively tighten regulations, the planet will still struggle to recycle 50% of its plastic waste in 10 years time. As consumers, making conscious and responsible decisions with our clothing is the bare minimum that can be done. 

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-02-09

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