Did you ever wonder why after a long day at the office the beautiful rayon blouse you had on now stinks? Or the comfortable leggings you wear make you sweat a lot, especially in the WRONG places?
It’s because what you are wearing is synthetic and derived from plastic (which essentially is from oil, ewww).
Since the late 1940’s, synthetic fabrics were marketed to people, especially Americans, when the real, natural fabrics started going up in price. Synthetics really didn’t get “real” propaganda until the late 50’s and really bloomed in the late 60’s, early 70’s during the “disco age”.
Here’s a little background on the synthetic fabrics.
Polyester is a synthetic polymer called “Polyethylene terephthalate forms the basis for synthetic fibers like Dacron, Terylene and polyester”. Dupont patented it in 1941.
Nylon was invented in 1939 to replace silk. Also created by Dupont.
Acrylic was invented in 1941 to replace wool. People are fooled by the softness of acrylic and sometimes prefer it over wool. Also add to the fact that is way cheaper.
Spandex is made of Polyurethane. Another name for it is elastane. Fun (sarcasm).
Olefin made from a polyolefin, which is another name for polypropylene or polyethylene. DuPont produces Tyvek fabric that is used for disposable outerwear, wristbands, and shipping supplies. You also see it in active/athletic wear, to “wick away” moisture. Yea, ok.
Synth leather & fur are manufactured to replace costly leather and suede and have most of the appearance of fur/leather/suede. They have a polyuretathane surface on top of a woven backing. Synthetic suede is made of nylon/polyester blended yarn and then the fabric is brushed to get the appearance of suede.
Neoprene is a water proof synthetic rubber – Polychloroprene was invented in 1930 by DuPont to replace rubber.
Kevlar is the strongest of all synthetic fibers. It is said to be 5 times stronger than steel. It was developed by DuPont company in 1971. Similar to the production of nylon, its polyamide combined with a basic chemical and an acidic chemical. yeay, chemicals!
I feel like I’m seeing Dupont too much
You know what all these fibers have in common? They are made of chemicals such as sodium hydroxide or carbon disulphide which are derived from coal, oil, or natural gas.
They are attractive to the producer, monetarily, and to us as the consumers. They come in a HUGE variety of colors and textures. They are lightweight but very strong, much stronger than the natural fabrics. They “wick away” moisture, and are sold as the “performance” material.
They are generally easily maintained, with less creasing. The fabric dries quickly. They have elasticity and flexibility. Easy maintenance is what attracts it to the clothing industry and to once again, the consumer. These fabrics are, to top it all off, inexpensive. They are always marketed as cheap, but also to enhance your appearance or your ability to perform a task.
It's the looking rich without paying the cost that really sells it most of the time.
But the real big problem is they come from non-sustainable, non-renewable resources. Manufacturing creates air pollution and water pollution. So while we sit and complain about the price of gasoline for our car and how it pollutes the air or the increasing of fraking for natural gas, we are demanding more of these resources from the planet so we can have 45 cheap, but expensive-looking blouses in our closet instead of 5 really well-made natural ones.
Here’s some science in your eye:
A team at Plymouth University in the UK spent 12 months analysing what happened when a number of synthetic materials were washed at different temperatures in domestic washing machines, using different combinations of detergents, to quantify the microfibres shed. They found that an average washing load of 6 kg could release an estimated 137,951 fibres from polyester-cotton blend fabric, 496,030 fibres from polyester and 728,789 from acrylic. Those fibers add to the general microplastics pollution
[taken from – O’Connor, Mary Catherine (27 October 2014) Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of. The Guardian
Williams, Alan. “Washing clothes releases thousands of microplastic particles into environment, study shows”. Plymouth University. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
Napper, I. E.; Thompson, R. C. (2016). “Release of Synthetic Microplastic Plastic Fibres From Domestic Washing Machines: Effects of Fabric Type and Washing Conditions” (PDF). Marine Pollution Bulletin. 112 (1–2): 39–45. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.09.025. hdl:10026.1/8163. PMID 27686821.
“The Environmental Impacts of Polyester”. tortoise & lady grey. 29 August 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2018.}
As for your health, synthetic fibers can be a problem. Synthetic fabrics do not have the breathe-ability of natural fabrics. They can be sold as breathable, but it is manufactured breathe-ability, meaning it is woven micro-holes. No good.
They do not absorb moisture, which makes them rather uncomfortable on the skin. They don’t wick anything away. They overheat the body if they are not manufactured to be breathable.
But just like a plastic bag on your skin, if your body sweats and stays wet, it will reduce making sweat thinking it has enough moisture on the skin, altering the excretion of your sweat and toxins from your body. It keeps the surface bacteria on your skin instead of allowing the air and environment to let them slough off naturally and for the skin to have a natural interaction with the surrounding environment.
When all this occurs, your thyroid is confused as to the temperature you are in and does not produce the necessary hormones to either keep you warm or cool in the respective environment.
For example: You go outside and it is 50 degrees fahrenheit. You wear your polyester sweatshirt. Now you feel warm. Your thyroid, the thermostat of your body, thinks it is warm outside. So it stops warming and regulating your body to acclimate to the 50 degrees.
It actually starts to cool your body because it doesn’t want to overheat in the reflective polyester (plastic bag) sweatshirt. If you take that sweatshirt off, you now will be very cold, because your body thought it was hot. Your body cannot adapt to the ambient temperature appropriately.
In natural circumstances, your body adapts, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but it adapts. And over time you enhance something called “brown fat” in your body which is a very healthy and nutritive fat. Look into “Wim Hof”
Now you ask why is this bad?
If your body never acclimates, if you keep your body in a “plastic bubble” so to speak, your body does not experience the necessary environment around it to help it regulate, detox or adapt. Your body becomes dependent on the “plastic” material to keep it warm or to help it cool, as in the case of athletic clothing.
In the case of athletic clothing, your body does not get to breathe, especially your skin. Your skin is the biggest organ of detoxification and the liver uses it to help it detox further.
Now if any of you ever watched the famous James Bond film with Sean Connery, Goldfinger, you’ll a scene where a woman dies because her whole body is painted gold. She literally dies because her skin suffocates.
What many do not know is the actress who had to get the gold painted on her for the scene, actually became ill because the paint was actually suffocating her skin. Unlike her character she didn’t die, but it goes to show you how much your skin needs to breathe.
Along with the skin breathing, there are a number of bacteria that live on the skin, as I said before. They consume the stuff that comes out of your pores and potentially create an odor.
Now a imagine an odor getting trapped in a plastic bubble. Gross.
Add the cherry on top. The odor gets trapped in the clothing- in the case of polyester, It has phthalates which molecularly bind to the aroma molecules. So now your clothing really stinks.
Now ladies, you want your lady parts to breathe. Those nylon bras and matching undies from the department stores can really be hindering your body’s natural detoxing ability. You don’t want that because that can lead to congestion in the lymph tissue, infections and even cancer!
Men you too! if you want to happy healthy sperm and not smell like you just came off a boat that sailed around the world, I’d suggest cotton boxers or briefs. You want the testes to stay cool and slightly away from the body.
Stick with natural-fibered clothing, home decor and bedding as well. You want your body to be comfortable and not work so terribly hard to keep the temperature regulated.
Stay tuned for part 2 and find out what natural fibers and even some partly natural fibers can actually be beneficial to your body and to your wallet.
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