How fabric can be plastic


I have a problem. I call all synthetic fibres plastic. And nobody understands me. Most people think about plastic bottles or plastic bags but not fabric. Fabric is soft and breathable and plastic is hard and waterproof. Nobody wears clothes made out of plastic bags, right? Actually, many people wear clothes made out of plastic bottles. Polar fleece, a popular outerwear fabric to keep yourself warm is often made with clear plastic bottles.

Synthetic fibres is just plastic in a different form. It was not moulded into a certain shape but spun into long tiny filaments and then woven or knit exactly like you would knit any natural fibres. That’s why it feels so different. But it’s still made with petroleum and it will not degrade for about 500 years. In fact, clothing made with plastic fibres is one the sources of the microplastics we now find everywhere. The tiny plastic filaments I was talking about earlier have the bad habit of breaking in our washing machine and getting released in the waterways because most water plants are not able to deal with it correctly. That’s how we end up with microplastics in the fish we eat, the water we drink, and the sea salt we shake.

That’s why I try to avoid them as much as possible and prefer to buy 100% natural fibres. It’s not always possible, like when you want to buy socks or underwear. But I certainly will never buy any to use for my hobby or even for my store.

Here are the most common synthetic fibres that are made of plastic:

  • Acrylic
  • Microfiber
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Poly-fil or fiberfill
  • Rhovyl or chlorofibre
  • Spandex, elastane or Lycra
  • Thinsulate

It would be so much easier to avoid synthetic fibres if I could knit my own socks! I’m a knitter and I can’t knit my own socks? Yes and no. I can knit them but I can’t wear them. It seems that my feet are too sensitive for that, they prefer store-bought socks and their smoother texture. Talk about spoiled!