Who’s going to win?
Well, we’ll know in a bit, so place your bets.
Natural Vs. Synthetic…Round One
So, in one corner we have Natural Fiber. Natural Fiber has a lot of great things going for it. Here’s a rundown of their strengths:
- Natural Fibers are made from natural ingredients like plants or animal hair. This includes cotton, hemp, sisal, tencil, wool, alpaca, jute, bamboo, etc.
- Natural Fibers are breathable.
- Natural Fibers are renewable and biodegradable.
- They’re incredibly comfortable for human skin.
So what does Synthetic have going for it? Well, don’t count them out just yet.
Here are some of the strengths of Synthetics:
- Synthetic fibers are cheap.
Yeah, so on the Strengths side Synthics are looking like lightweights. It may be a quick round.
Just like any boxer, these two have their weaknesses. Let’s tally them up.
1. Natural Fiber
Because natural fibers are, well, natural, they don’t last as long as some synthetics. Things like cotton t-shirts can break down over a few years when worn regularly.
2. Synthetic Fiber
Here’s where Synthetics stumble and fall, losing the match in a sweeping defeat. They have some very serious drawbacks.
- Synthetics are made using petrochemicals. This means OIL. All those fossil fuels we’re importing from the Middle East are ending up next to our skin. From an ethical and environmental perspective, this is not good.
- A formaldehyde product is often applied to man-made fabrics to stop shrinkage. Formaldehyde is incredibly bad for humans, and has been linked to cancer.
- Many synthetic clothing, especially trousers, are now being treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) to make them last longer and prevent wrinkling. If your trousers tell you “Don’t Iron”, they’re probably treated with PFCs. The EPA says that PFCs are known to cause cancer.
- Synthetic fabrics don’t hold dye as well as natural fabrics. This means they have to be sprayed with a chemical fixative which is made from heavy metals. This fixative is not only bad for us, but it’s incredibly bad when the leftovers and by-products are dumped into local waterways.
These are only a few of the weaknesses and drawbacks of synthetics. This stuff is just plain bad. And yet we’re layering it on top of our biggest, most breathable organ: our skin.
It’s obvious to me that Natural Fiber wins this match hands down. They’re natural, they’re renewable, and they’re safe for us to wear. Three cheers for the victor!
Filed under: Eco Fashion on July 1st, 2010