Luckily, most of us live someplace where products and experiences are tailored to our needs and we can fulfil our desires in a split moment. We can buy and throw away things just as we please and can easily turn a blind eye to what is going to happen with them afterwards. While this almost implausible comfort could be seen positively, the amount of plastic waste we have produced as a result has seriously interfered with the planet’s eco-system. Thus, before reading any further, I would like to thank you for being here and indicating interest in creating a better and healthier future.
What is plastic exactly?
The general definition for plastic is a “material consisting any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable and so can be melded into solid objects”. While it does not sound especially harmful, the lovely colourful straws, convenient take-away cutleries and grocery shopping bags are as useful as they are non-biodegradable. Meaning that they cannot be broken down to a harmless natural state, plastic quickly escalates into something awfully damaging. The realisation of this resulted in many independent movements and governmental interventions which are concerning the use of single use plastic and have already taken place all over the world. I am thrilled to see the amount of people and businesses who are willing to give them up to reduce environmental impact.
Four time used plastic
This definition lacks another significant aspect however; plastic is essentially made from coal and oil, or as experts call them: fossil fuels. We already know how harmful fossil fuels are, both for people and for the environment, but little is known about their relationship with plastic. Not only straws and bags but 2/3 of all fast-fashion items are made from synthetic fibres too. These involve polyester, spandex, acrylic, PVC and nylon. The only difference is that synthetics are considered to be four-times used. Why four-time? Easy. On average, one wears a garment as little as four times. Either because of their low-quality or because we can afford to buy something new, people will generally get rid of the products after the fourth use. And even if one uses clothes for a longer period, the problem is not eliminated. The more one wears something, the more one washes it. By doing so, clothes release microfibers which cannot be caught by the filter of the washing machine and will end up in our waterways. Here, fish can easily mistake them for food, consume and store the microfibers in their system until these fish end up on your plate. While it does sound delicious, believe me, food without microfibres is healthier.
What can we do?
It is not to say that you must keep your clothes until they can no longer hold their threads together. Eventually, all clothes are going to be wasted. If they are made from synthetics, well, they are going to stay with us for hundreds of years, if not forever. But just as there are metal straws and biodegradable bags there are alternatives to plastic fashion items too. Clothing made from organic materials such as organic cotton, linen or hemp are not only naturally biodegradable but softer, more durable and beautiful. Although, knowing where to buy these materials from can be exhausting. Many businesses offer seemingly environmentally friendly alternatives but unfortunately most of them are simply trying to harness more profit for their businesses. In order to avoid fake proclamations, transparency and evidence is key. Look for worldwide known certifications such as GOTS, Fairtrade International or Responsible Wool Standard to ensure that not only the end-products but the entire production process is free from harmful chemicals, unethical methods and fossil fuels.
In my search for something more worthwhile I have luckily come across Amberoot, a blog and multi-retailer company which has got me from the very first moment. Their collection of brands is entirely safe to shop and there is an impressive variety of materials, such as tencel, organic cotton, linen and peace silk to choose from. They also provide a transparency map for all of their products; therefore I know exactly where the clothes were designed, manufactured and where the materials came from. While I do enjoy shopping there, I have also learned amazing facts on their blog about upcoming future materials such as pineapple or mushroom leather. Something I have never thought of before! Looking at these possibilities the future is looking brighter every day. I am convinced that we are still in time to reverse the damage and stop the production of single and four-time used plastic once and for all.