The Plastic Purge: Wardrobe Edition
Check your closets, ladies and gentlemen, and you shall find plastics. The clothing racks at your favorite retailer might not be where you’d expect to find it hiding, but many textiles are made with plastics. Many textiles now contain plastics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and rayon – while some materials may be entirely synthetic there are others that are a blend of both synthetic and natural fibers. Not only does this plastic contribute to the mounting plastic in our daily lives but research has shown that every time we wash our synthetic clothing we release microplastics into our water supply as well.
While it may not be practical to avoid plastic-containing textiles all together, there are several things we can do to decrease plastics in our closets, our water, and our world. Start with checking your labels! Think critically about your clothing – which garments CAN you wear all natural fibers and which ones are less than practical? Aim for all natural fibers including cotton, wool, hemp, cashmere, silk, and linen where you can and skip the synthetic blends.
Reserve synthetic clothing for uses where other options may not be cost effective or practical such as rain jackets and high performance clothing.
No matter what you’re wearing, there are a few tips to purchasing and caring for your clothes to decrease the impact on our world. First, buy second hand whenever possible! There are great thrift stores, donation-based resale shops, and online resale options to choose from and purchasing second hand clothing prevents additional new clothing from being created and decreases our waste over all. Using online resale shops also gives you the opportunity to make some extra cash selling the clothes you don’t wear any more in the process. When purchasing clothing also look for high quality brands, lower quality generic fabrics shed more plastic microfibers in the wash. When washing your clothes, wash only when needed. When you do wash, if you wash your clothes at home check out filtering options for your machine and prevent some of the plastic from being washed down the drain, use filtering laundry bags to catch the plastic microfibers, and look into laundry balls that also catch microplastics to keep them out of the drain!
Until next time, check your labels and your thrift stores!