Clothes made out of plastic

Synthetic fabrics are essentially made out of plastic. Synthetic fibres used in fashion are almost exclusively petroleum-derived, making them a non-renewable material. The chemical additives used in the making of synthetic fabrics are also very polluting, and an increasing number of them are being restricted or banned due to their impact on human health.

Synthetic fibres were in the past seen as a technological advancement because they are easier to produce and maintain than natural fibres. Synthetic fabrics can also have properties that natural fabrics don’t, such as more stretch, more resistance to wear and tear, more impermeable.

Friction causes synthetic fabrics to shed tiny fibres, called microplastics. They can be visible or invisible to the naked eye.

Synthetic fibres started with a relatively niche place in the market and were used for technical gear and high-stretch garments. In the last 50 years they have gained popularity because they are often cheaper to produce (and therefore result in cheaper garments) and they are easy care.

Is polyester clothing bad?

Synthetic fibres are present in over 60% of all apparel produced yearly, with an estimated 40 billion clothes made entirely of plastic every year (about 40% of all clothing).

Not only do they have a negative impact on the environment because of how they are produced, they are also polluting when they are used and disposed of.

Many of the chemicals used in synthetic fibre production are bio-accumulative, which means they build up within our bodies and our eco-systems. Some of the chemicals in use are carcinogenic and powerful hormone disruptors, with a number of them being banned only for baby clothing.

A number of synthetic fibres are impossible to recycle, therefore they end up in landfill (where they’ll take thousands of years to break down and never fully disappear) or are incinerated (which releases toxic chemicals into the air, causing subsequent air pollution).

Microplastics are being released from our synthetic clothes each time they are washed. Given that tonnes of synthetic clothes are currently in use, this results in kilos of microplastics washing down our drains every day.

At present, water treatment facilities aren’t able to filter out particles this small, which results is an incalculable weight of microplastics ending up in our oceans. There they contaminate marine life, and almost all fish and their predators have been found to contain microplastics in their digestive and/or blood systems. Water samples from the most remote crevices, ice fjords and tropical forests are now contaminated with microplastics - as these tiny particles also move with currents and become part of our rain cycles.

Microplastics are already a huge problem due to their prevalence in our environment and we don’t yet fully understand how they disrupt our natural systems and life forms.

At House of Baukjen we’ve committed to tackle plastic pollution and minimising our impact on the planet.

We have so far reduced our use of synthetic fibres to 6.7% of all material used in our collections, and are striving to completely eliminate virgin synthetic fibres from our collections by 2025.

As of July 2021, we have reduced the amount of virgin synthetic fibres by 76% from last season.

Microplastics is an issue that needs to be addressed at use phase also, which as a brand we have less control over. We are encouraging our customers to wash their garments at low temperatures and with low spin cycles to reduce the amount of shedding. We also encourage the use of a microplastic containment solution when machine washing, you can purchase Guppy Bag or PlanetCare from our website.

You can also read more about how to do eco-friendly laundry on our Wear, Care & Repair page.

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