The embracing of natural fibres and the eschewing of synthetic fabrics has developed some serious legs particularly as we enter 2021. I notice it every day in the shop – people stating openly in our conversations that they are now consciously rejecting man-made fibres such as acrylic, polyester, acetate, and nylon and are deliberately seeking and selecting natural fibres such as silk, merino wool, organic cotton and linen.
Recently we’ve had some extra time on our hands as a global community, aka lockdown, and many of us have taken that opportunity to have a decent re-look at ALL things that affect us, especially our impact on the planet, including textile waste.
An awareness of sustainable fabric started some time ago alongside the advent of organics in the early 2000’s. It’s taken a number of years to gain momentum and now we are seeing conscious label reading with screening of fabric composition often front and foremost when purchasing, especially for those who are environmentally conscious and have a certain level of discretionary income.
There are a few reasons why this warms my heart.
It’s no secret that in order to create a man-made fibre, it takes a shit-load of chemicals. And we know that our skin is our largest organ and we protect it with …. clothes. So if those clothes have been processed with and still contain chemicals, well you get the picture. Not great, especially if you are someone who suffers from eczema or has sensitive skin.
Add to the mix that synthetic materials don’t breath and tend to lock in extra heat. So they do a poor job at helping to keep the body at a comfortable temperature. Especially bad for menopausal women experiencing hot flushes.
Now also add into the mix that chemically produced fabrics themselves produce micro plastics when washed and these are released in the ocean environment.
It’s actually difficult to see why you would ever purchase anything made out of synthetic fabric other than they are normally pretty cheap. And this leads us down the rabbit hole of fast fashion which we can look at later on.
The benefits of natural fibres and fabrics in fashion range from health reasons, sustainability and environmental concerns and longevity benefits. Natural fabrics breathe, allowing our bodies to regulate our temperatures. And natural fabrics are self-regulating materials meaning they are able to adapt to suit any climate.
And the big plus is that wool, silk and cotton is completely sustainable - sourced or grown naturally and can be replaced, regrown or raised time and time again. And don’t forget that natural fibres are biodegradable! Huge bonus.
So, the benefits of clothing made from natural materials vastly outweigh those of their synthetic, man-made counterparts. So where you can, do yourself and our planet a favour, and consciously select items made from natural fibres. Granted, choosing sustainability can often be a more expensive exercise than going with a polyester item from a chain store, but with the growth pre-loved stores and luxury consignment boutiques you can still take home top quality at an affordable price.