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Synthetic Fiber Is Strangling The Planet. You Need To Come Forward To Help

Synthetic Fiber Is Strangling The Planet. You Need To Come Forward To Help

Disclaimer: If you find these numbers heavy on the eye, know you’re not alone. Just that these are true, and that’s what’s numbers should strive to be first. 

  • Petrochemical-based synthetic fibers account for 68.3% of the total global fiber production. That’s around 64.8 million tonnes
  • By 2025, the production of synthetic fiber is expected to reach the 134.5 million mark.
  • The production of nylon emits nitrous oxide. It is a greenhouse gas 300 times more harmful to the ozone layer than carbon dioxide.
  • 60% of clothes on the retail shelves (online and offline) use polyester.
  • A single polyester tee shirt’s emission is estimated to be around 5.5 kg CO2-eq.  
  • Less than 0.1% of synthetic fiber used in fashion is from recycled sources.
  • Polyester production for textiles released 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases. [2015]

Okay, that’s too many numbers, right? Sounds too difficult to comprehend? 

Here’s a more understandable version:

Every time you visit the fashion aisle in a mall or browse through the fashion segment of an online store, you are looking at the impending doom of this planet – the only home that we have. Yet.

The synthetic fiber-made clothes that you wear use petroleum, and their production releases harmful greenhouse gases that are depleting the ozone layer faster than your speed of reading this. 

These clothes are non-biodegradable. 

Their production is harmful, their use disastrous, and their disposal catastrophic

The ice caps melting, sea levels rising, and even the extinction of several species of animals, birds, and reptiles is a result of your clothing choices.

Your clothes made of synthetic fiber are produced with chemicals that are drained into the ocean after use. Some endangered species of fish in a water body very far away from you die when it comes in contact with that chemical.

An infinitely small, almost non-existent percentage of the synthetic fiber you use for clothing comes from recycled sources. The brands that tell you they are using recycled sources for producing synthetic fashion are lying straight to your face. They might be using recycled sources, but that percentage is insignificant. Their efforts are half-hearted, and their claims far-fetched. 

The carbon emission caused by a polyester t-shirt is much more than a cotton tee. (Though the cotton tee also isn’t doing much good, synthetic fibers are worse.) 

Producing polyester for textile in one year [2015] had emission levels equal to the annual emission of 185 coal-fired power plants.

Source

And that’s not all. 

This globally destructive phenomenon is on the rise and will be hitting higher marks each year. 

And what are you doing about all this? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. 

No, this is not a personal attack on you. 

I understand you cannot stop global conglomerates from extracting petroleum, processing it, and producing nylon and polyester. 

You cannot force them to recycle fashion products or minimize the use of synthetic fiber.

I understand all of that. 

But what I want you to understand today is you will have to do something. Not for me. But for yourself, your kids, your grandkids, and your family.

Enough With The Problem Now. Time For The Solution. 

My intention isn’t to make you feel guilty about indulging in high street fashion. I don’t want to blame you for the mess that has been created by generations of thoughtless, reckless, and selfish acts of mankind.  

I wish to show you the way ahead. I would like to ignite a small fire of change. 

See, it is evident that synthetic fibers have messed up with our world. We were too dumb (or rather, I should say, ignorant) to notice it before. But now that we are finally noticing it, it is time to mend our ways. 

What Can An Individual Do?

Change their choices. 

The market operates on the simple principles of demand and supply. When you stop demanding and using synthetic fibers, companies will stop making profits from it. And that’s when they’d stop manufacturing it.

Yes, that’s how easy it is. 

What Next?

I have to stop using clothes made with synthetic fiber. Understood. What should I use instead?

Okay, I’ll be honest. This is a tricky question. 

If I ask you to stop using synthetic fiber and use natural fibers like cotton, I’d be forcing you to choose just a different form of evil. 

Sure, polyester is carbon-intensive, but cotton is a thirsty crop. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. That’s how much water an average human, like you or me, would consume in two and a half years. 

Using cotton in place of polyester isn’t the solution. The max that it can do is make you feel that you are doing your bit in saving the world. 

But would it actually be of any help? No. 

Hemp Is The Hope For A Better Future

Does the word hemp make you feel uncomfortable? Do you shift in your chair when you see that word on your screen written in a big, bold font?

If yes, congratulations, you have been successfully conditioned by capitalist propaganda. 

Hemp isn’t illegal. 

Hemp isn’t a mind-altering psychoactive drug. 

Hemp isn’t marijuana. 

They are related in the sense that they come from the same plant variety, Cannabis Sativa. 

But hemp’s THC content is very less (around 0.05%). THC is the thing that gives you the high.

Thus, using hemp-made clothes won’t give you a high.

Here are some facts about the hemp fabric – 

  • Hemp uses 1/20th amount of water that is used for equal quantities of cotton production. 
  • It is UV resistant, with a UPF of 50+.
  • Hemp can be grown on the same land for 20 consecutive years without affecting the soil. 
  • It is four times as strong as cotton.
  • Hemp is mold-resistant and also resists bacterial growth. 
  • It breathes well. 
  • The hemp crop isn’t vulnerable to insects and pests and, thus, doesn’t require insecticide or pesticide use. 
  • From Sahara to Scandinavia, everywhere is a good place for hemp farming. It can grow even in the harshest environments. 
  • And it is biodegradable. 

I believe now you would be able to understand how hemp is a better alternative to synthetic fiber.

It is not just good for the environment. It is good for you too. 

And you’d be doing something for society as well. 

Hemp is grown and produced manually. That means when you ask for clothes made of hemp fiber, you are indirectly providing employment to someone in need. 

Did you know that hemp that is grown in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is helping revive dead villages? 

Really?

Yes. As the CEO of Hemp Foundation, an organization that sources hemp from the IHR, I can tell you for a fact that every order that you place makes a woman in a village in Uttrakhand financially independent. It gives them a sense of worth and being. You give them that. 

And it is not just my company and me. A vast majority of all hemp-based businesses source hemp from distressed areas. 

I would be lying if I said it is just me and my company doing good. Every hemp-based organization that I know of is doing social good, in some form or the other.

“But Is Hemp Good Enough For Fashion Clothing?”

Every person that I’ve talked to about hemp has asked me this question at some point in the conversation. 

I know where this question comes from. Hemp has been traditionally perceived as a coarse fiber. It was used to make rug sacks, sails, and stuff like that in the past. 

That’s not what you (and even I) would like to wear to work or at home, and definitely not to a party. 

But hemp isn’t as coarse as it was before. Scientific advancements have helped develop processes that free hemp of lignin, the substance that gave it a coarse feel. Today, if you buy hemp fiber, you’ll see that it looks and feels a lot like linen. Soft and comfortable for all types of fashion needs. 

And hemp also blends well with other fabrics. Hemp-cotton and hemp-silk blends are extremely popular. With these blends, you can get fashion clothing items that look royal, feel comfortable, keep you safe, and also work towards reversing the environmental damage that fast fashion has done. 

The Way Forward…

I’ve tried to remove the ignorance-tainted glasses that were blurring your vision. I’ve shown you the real picture of the havoc that synthetic fibers have created so far. I’ve also tried to show you glimpses of a dystopian future that would become a reality if we don’t stop now.

But I’ve also shown you a better alternative. An untapped, enduring, and comprehensive solution has been presented to you. 

That’s all I could do from this side of the screen. 

Now, it is time for you to act. 

As a consumer, you need to realize the power that you have. You don’t have to carry on with the synthetic fiber that is being offered to you by those who care for nothing more than profits. 

Hemp holds the potential to save the planet, and you hold the potential to use hemp for the greater good. Get started today for a better tomorrow. 

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Sources:

  1. https://goodonyou.eco/material-guide-hemp/
  2. https://www.therobinreport.com/preference-for-polyester-may-make-fast-fashion-brands-vulnerable/
  3. https://www.wri.org/insights/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics
  4. https://www.commonobjective.co/article/synthetics-sustainable-synthetics-global-production
  5. https://earth911.com/how-and-buy/not-so-good-better-best-synthetic-fabrics/
  6. https://superegoworld.com/blogs/the-world/the-dangers-of-synthetic-fibers-and-fabrics-on-the-environment