Let’s talk fiber (and not the kind you get from your veggies.) Fibers are what make up the textiles of our clothes, and can give us much more information about our pieces beyond laundry cycle suggestions. The material that is used in our clothes can tell us where the clothing came from, the sustainability of the piece, and even the effects it may have on both our health, as well as the environment. Who knew? Let's dive into the top 3 fibers in the textile industry, and we can then go deeper to find the healthier, more sustainable alternatives.
What is Polyamide?
Polyamide is the reason we love yoga pants for its stretch and moisture wicking qualities. Also known as Nylon, Polyamide is a synthetic fiber made from crude oil, usually petroleum, and is almost always blended with other fibers to supplement stretch, form fit, and durability. It makes up approximately 7% of the world’s global textile production, producing about 5.6 million tons.
Is Polyamide sustainable?
Again with the short answer: no. It is a synthetic fiber made of crude oil, and requires drilling, fracking, and other methods of petroleum harvesting - all harmful to ecosystems around the world. It is also not biodegradable, and very rarely disposed of properly, causing environmental pollution, both in the Earth and ocean in the form of microplastics, and in the air. Just like polyester, it also uses excessive amounts of water in the cooling process during production. Finally, the production process gives off nitrous oxide, which some studies claim to be 300 times worse for the environment. Yikes.
There you have it! A quick breakdown of the top 3 conventional fibers used to make up your wardrobe! Stay tuned for PART II to come out about the Top 3 Sustainable Fibers you can look for and begin to incorporate in your closet!