With Plastic Free July well and truely here, we thought there was no better time than the present to talk about the most widely used fibre in the world, Polyester. So let's dive right in and talk all about Polyester - the good, the bad and the downright ugly truths around this man made synthetic fibre.
What is Polyester?
Polyester is a man made synthetic fibre derived from coal, air, water and petroleum. It is a plastic, and a carbon-intensive non-renewable resource, which was developed in the 20th Century. Polyester can also be produced using recycled plastic, agricultural crops and even waste.
What is Polyester Used for?
Polyester is used in manufacturing a variety of products including clothing, house hold furnishings, industrial fabrics, computer and recording tapes, and electrical insulation. It is also used to manufacture many Baby products, including toys, rattles, bedding and play mats. Polyester is the most widely used fibre as it accounts for over half of the overall fibre market, and 80% of the synthetic fibre market. Back in 2016, 4 years ago, an estimated 52 million metric ton of Polyester was produced. That equals 323 times the weight of Sydney opera house!!
What are the Benefits of Polyester?
From a customer care standpoint, Polyester is more sustainable. Items made from Polyester tend to last longer as it is a very durable fibre, it is also very versatile, affordable, light weight, quick drying, resistant to stains and does not absorb moisture. For consumers, clothing made from Polyester tends to use less energy, heat and water for washing, which is a massive bonus for a number of reasons.
What are the Negative Impacts of Polyester?
Research suggests that you should think twice before purchasing any items made using Polyester fibres. Not only is it harmful to our Environment and Ecosystems, but it is also harmful to our overall health.
To start with, the manufacturing process of Polyester uses a much higher amount of energy than natural fibres and uses harmful chemicals including carcinogens. More than anything, this poses an immediate threat to our waterways and all the beautiful ecosystems within them. Outside of the manufacturing process, Polyester still poses a threat to the environment as each time an item made of Polyester is washed, microplastics leach into our waterways. It is believed that garments made of synthetic fibres are the leading cause of microplastics in the ocean.
Due to the nature of Polyester, it is non biodegradable and although it may eventually break apart, it will exist in the environment for up to 200 years.
The production and use of Polyester is not only causing significant harm to our environment and the flora and fauna within it, there is also no denying the significantly negative health impacts that Polyester has on us as humans.
We wear it, we sit on it, we sleep in it, our skin is constantly coming in contact with Polyester fibres which is a scary thought as skin is the human bodies largest organ. As Polyester is manufactured using a large range of toxic chemicals, it is believed that many of them become trapped in the fibre during production and may enter the human body through our skin. These chemicals have been known to cause respiratory issues, skin rashes and irritation, hormonal imbalances and even cancer.
There are however certain measures in place to protect our health, one of these being OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100, a worldwide testing and certification system. OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 tests for for legally banned and controlled substances, chemicals that are classed as harmful to human health, and also parameters for health protection. This can provide some reassurance that there are standards in place to protect human health, however it does make you question whether Polyester is worth the risk.
Simple Ways You can Assist your Body and the Environment in Combating the Negative Impacts of Polyester:
First and foremost, if you can avoid purchasing products made of Polyester that is the best way to look after yourself and the environment. It's a simple case of Supply and Demand - if there is no demand for items made of Polyester, there is no need to increase or continue supplying those products. We do understand that sometimes it is almost impossible to avoid Polyester though, as clothing as well as baby and household products made of natural fibres are in much shorter supply and are also more costly.
So minimising your Polyester purchases is the first step and prioritising bedding plus clothing made of natural fibres is a great place to start. You can also look into using Plants around your home to purify the air - Devils Ivy, Peace Lillies and Philodendrons are just a few. Using household cleaning products, as well as skin care and body products, that are low tox is also really beneficial to your overall health. This will also help with taking care of our environment as all those cleaning products do end up going right down the drain and into our waterways. When washing items, such as clothing, linen and soft toys, made of Polyester, ensure you wash those items below 30 degrees. You can also use Microfibre capturing bags to help stop the pollution and do full loads of washing to reduce friction during washing cycles. Washing items less frequently also means that there are less opportunities for those microplastics to enter our beautiful waterways.
Here at Bubnest we believe that Polyester is never worth the risk. We believe the negative impacts Polyester has on the environment and human health, especially the health of your little one, far outweigh it's benefits. That is why we use all Natural and Organic fibres for our Baby Products, all year round. It's great to focus on Plastic reduction during Plastic Free July, but we believe it's even better to practice that each day of the year. You will never see any Polyester or Plastic used for manufacturing of our Bubnest products, and we are so proud to be able to stand by that.