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Plastic is 2018’s next big trend for the fashion world. PVC skirts, transparent jackets and coloured vinyl, everyone from Burberry to Zara are jumping on this trend.

Whilst legislation and campaigning against plastics is happening across the world, how is it that in fashion the only discussion around this new trend is about whether you are ‘brave’ enough to dare the transparent look? Plastic is a cheap material to produce, yet Maison Margiela are selling a clear plastic belt for $480, with no conversation on reducing plastics in our clothes. 

Plastic as a fashionable fabric has never been so out-there, but it is actually not a new introduction to the fashion industry. Synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are all used to produce our garments, with polyester being the world’s most popular fabric. These fabrics are all produced from petrochemicals made from oil - the same plastic that is used for the swing tags and packaging our purchases are sold in.

So whilst we are trying to curb all our plastic bottle and bag consumption, we are simultaneously disposing of 350,000 tonnes of used clothing per year in the UK alone. That’s £140 million worth of plastic clothing. Polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres are non-biodegradable so once they are in landfill they take years to break down into smaller and smaller pieces, polluting the water and environment.

“Why are we trying to do something about bottles and not doing something about the most abundant form of material we find in the ocean”

Dr Mark Browne

Unfortunately, the impact of our plastic clothing doesn’t stop there. Dr Mark Browne’s study found 85% of fibres found on world shorelines matched materials of nylon and acrylic. These fibres are called microfibres.

How do they end up there? These fibres come off our clothing everytime we wash them. Around 4,500 fibres are released per gram of clothing per wash. These aren’t caught in water treatment plants so flow directly in to our oceans and rivers. The size of these microfibres mean that they are eaten by fish, and are passed on along the food chain until they reach... us. So whilst images of ocean oil spills make headline news, we already have plastic from our clothes pouring into our ecosystem and poisoning our food chain.

Despite Glastonbury banning plastic bottles from it’s festival, thousands of on-trend festival goers will purchase and wear tonnes of plastic clothing for the event, which also ends up contaminating the environment.

In order to take on our global climate change issue, we need to tackle plastics and shift our shopping habits. Here are some things to reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe:

  1. Shop natural fibres
  2. Wash any pre-bought synthetic clothing less (check out more care tips for your clothing here)
  3. Cut down on packaging! Say no to bags or email your favourite brand to remove plastic from their packaging.

Learn more about microfibres with Greenpeace & The Story Of Stuff! 

  

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