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The Fashion Industry’s Big Debate
Who wouldn’t want clothes that are cheap, weigh little and are easy to wash? That’s easily attainable with one of the stars of the fashion world: polyester. Chosen by manufacturers because of its low price and high versatility, and loved by consumers because of its lightweight and quick drying properties, polyester has always been everyone’s big favourite.
However, there’s a dark side to consider: polyester is synthetic and made from plastic. Being a petroleum-derived material, it needs a lot of energy to be produced, it’s highly water and air polluting, and it doesn’t biodegrade. All big no-nos for circularity! All in all, no matter how convenient it may seem, it represents a big danger for the environment and our planet.
For many years now, the fashion industry has been working hard to address this issue. Today, the use of virgin polyester has been drastically reduced, being replaced by recycled fibres instead. Recycled polyester is very much fawned over in the fashion world, bringing the same advantages of polyester with less environmental impact. Yay, recycling! That’s a good thing, right? Well, not exactly. Recycled polyester has definitely been a game changer, but it’s not a magical solution, and we’ll tell you why.
How Sustainable Is It Really?
Transforming a waste product such as plastic bottles into clothing, while also reducing the demand for virgin polyester, may, at first glance, seem like a good alternative. Many less-than-honest companies know this, and use recycled polyester as a greenwashing tactic. We automatically associate the word ‘recycling’ with ‘good for the environment’, but, is it so?
The recycled polyester trend in fashion has resulted in many raised questions about its sustainability, attempting to debunk myths and disarm greenwashing. The truth of the matter is, whether an item is made from recycled or virgin polyester, it’s still going to shed microplastics, and it’s still going to take years to decompose. There is even some evidence to suggest both virgin and recycled polyester contain chemicals that can be harmful for our health.
Recycling is definitely better than discarding after one use, but an important fact about polyester is that it cannot be recycled indefinitely. In fact, it can only be recycled a few times before its quality degrades to an extent where it’s not usable anymore. This means there’s not really a dramatic improvement when compared to a disposable article.
Its benefits are not to be dismissed, though. Recycled polyester does prove to be, at least, a temporary solution to the problem. However, as we continue to become aware of the impact of fashion on our environment, we keep working towards safer, innovative and more sustainable solutions. Recycling should be the last step; the first is implementing circular design strategies where waste is designed out from the very beginning of the garment’s life cycle.
A Relooped Take on Recycled polyester
Synthetics -including recycled ones- remain the cheapest and most profitable to manufacture, but also the most unhealthy, both for wearers and the planet.
At Reloop Wear, we promise you full transparency, always. You can check out the materials breakdown of all our products in each of their descriptions. You’ll notice that, as much as we try to avoid recycled polyester, it’s still present in a minority of our products.
Yes, recycled polyester sucks, and we know it. In an ideal world, we would all switch to fully natural fabrics and materials, which we know are safer for everyone involved. However, we’re not 100% there yet. While recycled polyester is a bit better than virgin, we know it’s an imperfect solution, and in our circular roadmap, plan on moving away from it by the end of 2023.
We’re on the road to a circular future. Care to join us on the journey?