Why cloth selection is important
Nylon/ Polyester made from petrochemicals with synthetics that are non-biodegradable. Manufacturing this creates nitrous oxide (x310 more potent than CO2). Polyester uses large amounts of water cooling and will contaminate the water. Making this cloth clear to stay away from. Polyester is still used in 16% of fibres in clothes.
Recycled polyester seems like a viable options but during the process of recycling and general wearing/washing; micro plastics will be released into our ecosystems. The New York Times writes: “Even if these microplastics are trapped at filtration plants, they can end up in sludge produced by the facilities, which is often sent to farms to be used as fertilizer. From there, the fibres can make their way into other water systems, or into the digestive tracts of animals that graze on the fertilized plants.” Every year approximately half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres from washing clothes end up in the ocean.
Cotton is grown and known for being a crop that uses the most pesticides and herbicides in the world; which kill/injure people. It uses a large amount of agricultural land (2.5% overall and 3% global water) stopping locals growing food. Cotton isn’t known for its toll on human health and it’s low profit margins for farmers but it should. Organic cotton requires more land but still requires chemicals to produce. cotton contributing excessively to water scarcity and wool to greenhouse gas emissions. Cotton is used in 43% of clothes. To grow enough cotton for just an un-dyed t-shirt, you need 257 gallons of water.
Rayon, Tencel & Modal
Rayon, Tencel and Modal made from wood pulp. Is slightly more sustainable but thousands of hectares of ancient forests are cleared/displayed to make the pulpwood plantations. The trees are planted in eucalyptus which uses a lot of water. The wood pulp is then treated with soda, carbon disulphide and sulphuric acid. Which cause serious health problems. Wood based fibres make up 9% in our clothes.
Linen is made from the flax plant which can be grown on rough agricultural land unsuitable for food production. It can be made without chemicals which is more common when production is in Europe. However there’s a high amount of water pollutants making their way into our ecosystems.
Wool sheered from the sheep isn’t vegan however it’s environmentally friendly and extremely beneficial. Despite not being vegan the environmental toll on polyester and synthetic cloths are more damaging to the ecosystems. Methane emissions are produced from the sheep burping. Most sheep are raised on non-arable land also.