Every time we wash these materials, thousands of small pieces of microplastic come off. Threads so small that they easily pass through water filtration systems get straight into the sea. Sea creatures eat these small parts because they often passively or mistake it for food. Plastic also absorbs toxic chemicals used in manufacturing. Experts suspect that more than 100 million tons of waste are floating in the world’s oceans. The microplastic also gets into our soils – which, again, leads to a decline in biodiversity.
A major part of synthetic fibers are used in fast fashion because of financial reasons and the fast manufacturing process. Another reason: they make up to twenty collections per year – therefore they need resources. Where there is mass production, of course, a lot is left over. 30% of all produced clothing is never sold. The unsold products cause garbage, but so do our unwanted items of clothing, which we sort out after having worn them a little or worse: not at all.
An article by Tagesspiegel says: “Almost a quarter (24.3 percent) of all textile waste is burned in a CO²-intensive manner,” (..) “More than half of the clothes waste (57.1 percent) ends up in the particularly environmentally harmful landfills.” In Germany, according to the study, only 500 grams of the 4.7 kilograms of garbage per capita are recycled.
Why smells a shirt made out of polyester much faster than one out of cotton? Many bacteria that live on the skin decompose the sweat in small molecules that smell unpleasant. Some bacterias pass from the skin over to clothing and multiply without body contact. The extent of reproduction depends also on the textile fiber of the garment. The bacteria Micrococci multiply much stronger in polyester than in cotton. While cotton or linen absorb a large part of the odorous substances, polyester gives with its loose structure of the fibers the perfect area for growth.
Polyester is not recommended for people with very sensitive skin. Since the plastic is made from petroleum in most cases, it can lead to redness or irritation in sensitive skin. Fabrics like acrylic, polyester, rayon, and nylon are treated with thousand of harmful toxic chemicals during production.
A study from Stockholm University said that the highest concentration of two toxic substances, quinolines, and aromatic amines, were found in polyester. Toxic chemicals aside, synthetic fabrics simply don’t breathe, and anyone who’s worn polyester on a hot summer day is probably well aware of that.