Posted in Petitions

Clothes and the environment

I was thinking about buying a new parka for the winter and decided to find out facts about the different fabrics and their impact on the environment. Unfortunately, I found that almost all fabrics that are commercially available are harmful to the environment. That goes for synthetic fabrics like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polyamide. Sadly also the natural fibres viscose, rayon and most bamboo fibres are the same. Of the latter, the only exception is apparently one called lyocelle and tercel (?). Cotton is harmful for the environment because apparently it uses far too much water, but ecological cotton isn’t that bad, in other ways. (Though I’m upset that ecological/organic means using bone meal and blood from slaughered animals). Finally, old-fashioned materials like linen, hemp and fabric made from nettles seem to be best, but alas they aren’t commercially available, at least not that I know of. I’d also love to know about the environmental impact of soy fibres and banana and sugar as well. Still, I imagine it will be a long time until these fibres will be commercially available, if ever. The same goes for linen, hemp and nettle cloth. Sigh.

So, what did I decide to do about the new parka? I will save my money and the environment and use my old parkas. I’m really bad at throwing old clothes away or selling or giving them away. That means I have jackets from as far back as my high school years. I might not be inclined to wear those oldest jackets in town, but maybe when I just go for walks in the countryside. Fortunately, I do have jackets that are maybe three-five years old as well and those will still do very nicely. Maybe it’s for the best. I do have enough clothes, except for the stuff you tend to wear out first, like underwear and socks. The same goes for accessories. Maybe I’ll stop buying that sort of thing entirely.

However, I do need to buy things for my babies. For the time being, I will try to buy just cotton clothing (and ecological when available), because that seems to be the least bad of all the options available. It’s too bad I can’t buy fleece anymore, since that seems to be bad as well. The twins will need something warm to wear in the winter. At least I’d already bought some fleece stuff and I can’t really throw them away now, so at least for this winter, I can keep using them. They also have some really cosy foot muffs for the stroller. That’s a weird word for what we in Swedish call a ‘travel bag’, meaning something like a sleeping bag that you put your baby into when they’re riding in the stroller/pushchair (not the pram). For the pram they have sort of covers that you can put on top of whatever else you use to warm them, like blankets.

Have you thought about the environmental impact of fabrics? What have you decided on? Will you keep using the ordinary stuff that’s available, because that’s all you can do? Or have you found a better solution? Buying second hand and using older stuff doesn’t really help, because apparently fleece, gore-tex and other synthetic fabrics keep releasing microscopic particles into the environment every time you wash them. Still, there’s only so much you can do. All we can do is our best under the circumstances.

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Author:

Vegan who writes, reads, watches movies, loves animals... Vegan, som skriver, läser, ser på film, älskar djur, står på de svagas sida. Författare, bokförläggare, korrekturläsare och språkmästare.

16 thoughts on “Clothes and the environment

  1. I’m a cotton and linen girl, I do have some hemp and bamboo items. I absolutely love my bamboo socks,they breathe and are so comfortable, don’t shrink and so far my big toe hasn’t put a hole in them and they’re four years old and they look like new. 😊

    1. That’s good to know. I don’t think I have anything made from bamboo – except for some dishes and they’re great. Nothing made from hemp yet, but I’d love to try that. We have some old linen sheets and I think my mom has some linen clothes, but so far I don’t, although I’d love to.

      1. I’m a big fan of bamboo, the towels are so soft and very absorbent, and dry fast… the sheets are very light weight and they keep you cool in the summer, they wash and dry nice.. no wrinkles ☺
        If you decide to buy linen…. get a linen cotton blend, there softer and more lightweight and easier to care for, you just need to press them.

      2. That sounds wonderful. I hope they begin to sell stuff like that here. I’ve noticed that the linen table cloths we have are a bit difficult to care for. So a blend sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the tips. 🙂

  2. Well, everything needs to be put into perspective. People used to wear fur and leather to keep warm. Nowadays, some man-made materials might not be totally environmentally perfect, but to keep your little ones warm they might be the best you can get. Let’s see what the future will bring. And wear your old parka with pride 🙂 – it will be en vogue again soon, I’m sure.

  3. Yes, all we can do is our very best for our mother Earth every day.
    I am like you, I keep my clothes forever but I do love clothes and unfortunately, it means having to shop…
    I am a big supporter of our local shops and avoid Shopping Malls at all costs.
    I just bought a dress yesterday made of bamboo and coton. It looks great and is so comfortable I may end up wearing it all the time… I also love the fact that it is designed and made right here in my little town. Isn’t brilliant??
    Re: your parka
    Have you heard of a company in Québec, Canada that will be starting production of winter parkas made of milkweed? So hang on to your old coat, help may be on the way.🐴

    When it comes to the joy of buying new clothes, it is n

    1. No, I haven’t heard of the Quebec company yet, but it sounds like a great idea. I’ll be looking forward to their new parkas. And I definitely agree with you about loving to shop and wanting to live without harming the environment.

      1. I forgot to mention a very important point: My dress mentioned above was affordable. Far less than a typical big label “designer” dress made in horrible unsafe conditions in the Far East, with bad fabric and obnoxious big logo.
        My little shop is not for people with more money than brains… There is some hope…

  4. While I eat a vegan diet, I’ve only recently started thinking about the zero-waste lifestyle and want to try adopt it as much as I can. Last week I really needed a few bits and pieces of new winter clothes so I shopped in H&M’s “conscious” range which uses only recycled materials and organic cotton. Again, it’s not perfect but it’s something, and I avoid other high street shops. Other than that I would buy second-hand if I can, or try to pick up handmade bits and pieces in markets and small shops. Problem is a lot of said clothing can has a slightly (or not-so-slightly!) hippie style, and I’m not mad about that look, I feel its a bit stereotypical, especially when you say you’re a vegan! I suppose for something like a parka, if you get one made of synthetic materials but of very good quality, it’ll last you years. I got a nice Jack Wolfskin one three years ago for a trip to Peru and it’as in perfect nick, I imagine I’ll have it for another ten years or so easily! And I don;t think I’ve ever washed it as it goes outside my clothes so doesn’t get sweaty 😛 I suppose we have to be practical and work within the framework of culture and society to some extent. Unless you’re prepared to start a hemp farm and begin a collective to weave the fibres into cloth and so on and so forth, which sounds like a LOT of effort… there’s only so much w can do as individuals. But we should certainly support businesses that are making the effort to produce eco-friendly goods! Well done 🙂

    1. Thanks 🙂 My parka is made of cotton, but the lining is synthetic and I think it’s good quality, so I’ll keep using it for a long time. I don’t wash it very often (I think it’s been washed once so far), because as you say you don’t really get any sweat on the outer garments.

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