Finding new and innovative ways to recycle all things that are doomed for a landfill is really great, however, turning plastics into a new t-shirt is one of the worst inventions yet. Here’s why…
To make a plastic bottle it takes a significant amount of unsustainable resources including petrochemicals (yes petroleum) and natural gas. Then you mix these resources with thousands of other harmful chemicals and you have a noxious concoction that sounds like it could do more damage than a nuclear bomb. Which, essentially these chemicals are just that, a ticking time bomb on one’s health and the health of our environment.
Were you surprised when I said there are THOUSANDS of chemicals used to make a plastic bottle? This is truly alarming and in fact, a study out of Germany had found that over 24,000 chemicals were found in drinking water that came from plastic bottles.
Over 24,000 chemicals is a very alarming number and although most people are not aware of all of the exact chemicals that plastic bottles and plastic containers are made up of they are at least aware of a couple of the top chemicals they should avoid in plastics such as BPA and phthalates.
As people’s consciousness heighten around these topics they are being more aware of the ingredients in their body care products, cosmetics, detergents, household products, etc. They correlate the chemical ingredients that can be found in these products and how they can affect the skin and absorb into the body. Being that our skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs over 60% of whatever we put on it, we should be aware of all things that we come in contact with, apply to our skin, and that are in our environment.
As we recognize this, we must expand this consciousness to our clothing and the effects that chemicals in our clothing can have on one’s health. If you purchase an item made from recycled polyester, do you ask if it is made from BPA and phthalate free plastics? No, people do not seem to concern themselves with this; although, the BPA and phthalates are the least of our worries, along with the thousands of other chemicals that these fibers may contain: from petroleum, to heavy metals in dyes, toxic whitening agents, and more.
This whole process is chemical based. It takes thousands of chemicals to make plastics, thousands of chemicals to break down the plastics, thousands of chemicals to remake the plastics into the polyester fibers, and then more chemicals added to the fibers to finish the fabric such as the dyes, whitening agents, and chemical laden finishing agents.
These chemicals in our clothing can then leach and off-gas onto our skin where they get directly absorbed through our pores. Once absorbed, these chemicals get into our bloodstream, tissues and our cells; affecting our body and bodies systems with a myriad of problems. Problems such as skin and other cancers, rashes, respiratory infections, endocrine and neurological disorders, and more.
We could go more into how the chemicals in our clothing can affect our health, but we have several other blogs that discuss this. The main purpose of this blog is to share our stance on this new movement of clothing made with recycled polyester chemical waste in the “Eco” marketplace and how we should really think twice when purchasing any garments made with recycled polyester, recycled bottles or recycled waste. The recycled polyester clothing industry may have saved a few plastic bottles and some trash from our landfills, but guaranteed that if the tossed plastics are not being used to make fabric, they will be used for something else that can be a more sustainable solution for our future such as turning them back into petroleum to power our cars, heat our homes, and more! Technologies like this is already exist and are what we would recommend the tossed plastics get used for.
Moreover, knowing that our waste can easily be recycled, does this cause us as consumers to feel okay with our rapid consumption with the thought that our trashed plastics may be recycled when thrown away? If we know that our trash will be reused will that cause us to not be as conscious about what we purchase and throw away? We must keep in mind that there is still a huge environmental impact to initially create the product that we toss and then again to recycle it into something new. Recycled plastic requires a lot of water and energy to MANUFACTUREfacture and the production releases toxins into our water systems and emits a lot of pollutants into the air.
Additionally, garments that were once recycled from plastics and waste and then bought at such a rapid pace in our fast fashion world will more than likely end up in landfills in a short amount of time after they were purchased. According to Care2.com, the average American throws away about 65 pounds of clothing per year! Of which, those made up of recycled polyester (polyester or synthetic fabrics) will then remain in the landfills indefinitely as non-biodegradable waste or they may become incinerated, leaching the harmful chemicals in which they were made into our ozone and environment causing irreparable harm.
Instead, opt for clothing made from all natural fibers such as cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool, etc. Preferably from organic crops and ethically treated animals. These fabrics have a significantly less impact on our environment, are much better for our health if processed in an organic manner. Also, the quality of these items mean they will last longer in your wardrobe and then biodegrade once they have been worn through and are ready to retire.
—– Please help us to spread the word to use recycled plastics and chemical wastes for something more sustainable by sharing this article on your social networks! Thank you for caring and for wanting to make a change!
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” ~Mahatma Gandhi