Jyoti Morningstar, founder of WE-AR. Image supplied.
Ethical fashion brand WE-AR are urging women to educate themselves around plastics use in clothing and its effect on our oceans and human health. They want everyone to be aware that plastic-derived polyamide textiles are the biggest source of micro-plastic pollution in our oceans and that they are also absorbed into the skin when worn. You may recognise the names ‘Luon’, ‘Pilayo’ and ‘Studiolux’ which are among the plastic based polyamide textiles that are made out of oil. The oil industry is particularly destructive for the planet and has caused widespread ecological disaster over the years. From the devastation of habitats for drilling to vast ocean spills, and the pollution resulting from oil burning, the oil industry has a lot of heavy karma on its shoulders. As consumers we need to reduce our usage of fossil fuels and our consumption of other radical pollutants derived from the same industry.
The leads us on to Nylon which is a stretchy plastic textile first developed by DuPont in the 1940’s. While it was an exciting revolution at the time, what we know now is that these fibres are hazardous to our environment, our food chain and our health. Through the simple mechanical process of abrasion, each time you wear these textiles tiny plastic fibres are rubbed off and absorbed into the biggest organ in your body – your skin. The skin absorbs 80% of what you put on it and when you exercise the body tries to regulate your temperature through sweating, which means your pores open up and let the fibres in. The textiles also cause your body to heat up more as you are essentially ‘glad-wrapping’ yourself in the plastic fabric, causing more sweating, more opening and more plastics absorption. By the same process, every time you wash your polyamide leggings, sports bras and sweat wicking jogging shorts, they shed their plastic microfibers into your washing machine which make their way down the drain and into our waterways and on to the ocean.
A two year study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) found that 82% of the micro-plastic pollution accumulating in the Gulf of Mexico is originating from synthetic clothes like stretchy polyamide yoga and athletic wear. Research into the contents of different fish from lakes and oceans around the world has found that plastic was present in one out of four fish sampled. These plastic chemicals are then absorbed from the gut, into the flesh of fish – which is then consumed by other fish, and by humans.
Although touted as an ecological initiative by some brands, it’s been found that recycled plastic products shed micro-fibres at an even faster rate. Whilst recycling plastic is a good idea, making it into fabric which needs to be washed frequently may not be. Studies show that an eco-fleece jacket made from recycled plastics sheds almost two thousand plastic fibers per wash, which is more than other fabrics that are made from non-recycled materials. Increasingly conscious designers are choosing to use natural fibres like organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and linen combined with minimal amounts of spandex to bring you the hugging, flattering yoga pants that you love that aren’t endangering our oceans and our health.
WE-AR are transparent about their textiles and offer 100% organic cotton tees and leggings that are 90% organic cotton with 10% elastane –the minimum needed in a textile to yield two-way stretch, body hugging functionality and longevity. WE-AR is constantly searching the earth for a 100% natural alternative and will be utilising any new discoveries. The brand has chosen to include a minor spandex component to their active wear products as it increases the lifecycle of the product, ensuring they keep their shape for years to come, and thus minimising high garment turnover. Your WE-AR leggings will look and feel great for years while also being great for the environment.
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