When it comes to the clothing on your back, it's easy to look past what it is made from; if it looks good, that's all that matters, right? Wrong.
Years ago, many people used primarily natural fibres in their clothing, but as technology advanced, materials began to sneak into the clothing, oh so covertly. Acetate, nylon and polyester advertised themselves as new materials to make people’s lives simpler, and are still very popular today. They do however, all come at a cost; they are chemically treated fabrics that contain toxins that can affect not only your health, but the health of our precious planet too.
Focusing on the popular fabric nylon, take a look at why you should aim to avoid this one when you go shopping for new clothes.
The History Of Nylon
To give you a bit of history behind nylon, it was discovered accidentally by a chemist in 1935. It being quite a delicate fabric, it was a great replacement for silk which was harder to find during the war. In these days, many didn't realise the negative effects it would have on the planet; it became a very popular fabric, mostly due to it being very cheap and available widely.
What's So Bad About It?
At the heart of it all, nylon is very bad for the planet. It isn't biodegradable (it won't decay naturally in the ground), and creates a greenhouse gas that is over 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide. This has awful implications for the environment. The manufacture of it is consequently very energy draining and damaging. It could actually be said that are so many environmental bad points about this fabric, that any positives about it are completely outweighed.
Is it bad for your body? Yes.
Nylon is also not a good fabric for you to wear either. Nylon does not absorb moisture so sweat is trapped against your skin, which creates a breeding ground for odour and fungal infection. In addition, the textiles are made from petrochemicals and are heavily treated with all sorts of elements too such as bleaching agents and synthetic dyes. Such things have been linked to immune problems, skin issues and cancer to name only a few. An irritant known as formaldehyde is also found in nylon and has been linked to skin irritation and eye problems.
Where is nylon found?
Nylon is found in a whole range of clothing items, and its percentage of inclusion in an item should be stated on the clothing label. However, do be aware that some manufacturers can trick consumers in to thinking that they’re buying a ‘natural’ product, when in fact they can contain nylon. Look for any products that contain a certain percentage of natural fibres such as bamboo or hemp, but where the ‘other’ material is not stated (such as 80% bamboo). This can be a sign that the item contains a fabric that might not be too good for you or the environment. If it’s hidden, it’s a bad sign.
What can I buy instead?
In general, try to purchase and wear 100% natural fibres or those blended with very minimal synthetic fibre (for example Elastane which gives garments stretch). We choose to promote bamboo fibre as it is grown with no chemical intervention and its fibre is biodegradable, which gives conscientious consumers a real peace of mind. Once you have no further use for a bamboo product you can rest easy, knowing that it will return to the Earth leaving minimal environmental impact. While bamboo and other natural textiles may not be 100% eco-friendly products from start to finish, they are said to currently be the best choice of material that can be made, and so much better than nylon and similar materials on the market.
The next time you’re shopping for new clothes, don’t forget to check the label.