Plastic-Free July Challenge #27: Choose Natural Fabrics for Clothing 🧶

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

White cotton fabric

Natural fabrics—such as cotton, silk and wool—are made of animal or plant-based fibers, while synthetics are man-made and produced entirely from chemicals to create fabrics like polyester, rayon, acrylic, and many others. Over the years these synthetic fibers have increasingly grown in popularity.

Polyester shirts can release micro-plastics when washed

However, a major problem with man-made fibers is the fact that they do not biodegrade. A polyester shirt will remain in the same state for hundreds of years. As these fibers are petroleum-based, if left outside the chemicals in them can seep into the soil and damage local ecosystems. An additional problem to synthetic fibers is their ability to release micro-plastic when washed.

Synthetic fibers release up to thousands of tiny plastic fibers into the water supply during washing

Micro plastics are small plastic particles under 5 mm that can originate from products such as body washes or for use in manufacturing, but another major source comes from the breakdown of larger plastics and synthetic textiles – particularly when we wash our clothing. In fact, a single garment can release between 120,000-730,000 plastic microfibers in just one laundry cycle. (Oceanwise 2019 report: "Me, my clothes and the ocean")

knitting needles through a ball of white wool yarn, on top of a white wool scarf

The solution? Natural fabrics! As well as being environmentally sustainable, the majority of natural fabrics are biodegradable, moisture-wicking, breathable, durable, heat-responsive and naturally repellent to mold and dirt.

Girl wearing a white wool scarf

Today’s Challenge:

  • Take a photo of a piece of clothing that is made of cotton, silk, or wool!

  • Share a photo and tag @onepieceaday1, and use the hashtag #OPADPlasticFreeJuly to earn 1 ENTRY!