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Polyester 101: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

November 24, 2021

Polyester 101: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What's everywhere around us, on us and in the environment?
You guessed it. {OK, the title may have given it away!} Polyester. 
What's the bet that if you open your wardrobe, you will find several tags that say 100% polyester? 
I'm not going to pretend to be a scientific expert on polyester, but in my journey to finding out more about it, here's a few things I learnt.

 

It is made from fossil fuels.

Whaaaat??! Yep. You read that correctly. Polyester is made from a reaction between two chemicals, ethylene glycol and therephthalic acid. Basically, chemicals derived from fossil fuels, air and water that are made into PET plastic filaments and then woven together.

It is bad for you.

So maybe you've bought polyester in the past because it's stain resistant and wrinkle-free. Well, maybe they are but is it too good to be true? We need to ask the question about how a fabric can promise those things. It's because of what is applied onto them in the finishing process of the material. The chemicals that are applied in the finishing process of the materials are usually toxic and harmful to the waterways, the environment and also to our skins.

Knowing that it is made of plastic really helps you understand why it sticks to you and why you sweat so much more in Summer when you are walking around in your flowy summer dress. Apart from not allowing your skin to breathe, It's also not great for those with sensitive skin as the chemicals are in constant contact with your skin.

It is bad for the environment.

Apart from the fossil fuels and the harsh and toxic chemicals that are often used in its production, polyester is also bad for the environment as it doesn't completely break down. It eventually becomes microplastics which are not biodegradable but rather stays in our waters, animals and land.

It encourages fast fashion and overproduction.

If it's so bad, why do designers use polyester? Because it's cheap to manufacture. And, let's face it, it's also because people are buying it. That's how the economy works. Polyester has encouraged overproduction and the growth of the fast fashion industry. 

So what should we do?

Be informed. It's important to become a smart consumer and just as important to teach this to our next generation. Do your own research about polyester. When you next go to the shops, start looking at the tags to see what items are made from. And then start to make some educated choices.
Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? Well, that really depends on what you value.

Here's some articles to get you started on your learning journey:



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