Field Notes / January 23rd , 2020

Pulling the Plastic Thread

 

Are your yoga pants killing you? Seriously. It’s a question we need to start asking ourselves. It’s a little-known fact that most fabrics used in lifestyle clothing are made from plastic. And plastic is made from oil. Now let’s rewind: The largest and arguably most sensitive organ on your body (skin) is wrapped in plastic daily like a supermarket piece of meat. Wrapped in geopolitical unrest and right-wing war machine. Wrapped in poison. Seem dramatic? Reconsider all that warfare waged in the name of oil. All that water used to extract fossil fuels. And—most acutely—all those harmful oil and gas chemicals rubbing up against your skin during downward dog or during your morning run. All-day long. Plastics on your skin.

Do you know what you're actually wearing? Lycra—the single most used fabric in brands like LuluLemon—is owned by Invista which is owned by the Koch Brothers, collectively worth $110 Billion. Invista is a spin-off of DuPont, which manufactured gunpowder, chemical and nuclear weapons for every American war in history. The Koch brothers love war. And Invista loves chemicals. Many of them go into the production and fabric of your oh-so-comfy Lycra and neoprene in your wetsuit.  

         This all may seem alarmist to active people who just want to get a sweat on, but it’s time for players in the apparel industry to start owning up to our origins. Do we want to support the largest right-wing, war-mongering political machine in the U.S.A.? Do we want to keep volatile chemicals pressed closely against us when our skin is at its most sweaty and vulnerable? And then there’s the environmental price. When tested recently, 80% of oysters on the British Columbia coast showed traces of microfibres. Meanwhile, even the most well-meaning companies are touting fleece and other fabrics that are “recycled”, “upcycled”, or INSERT HOLLOW BUZZWORD HERE from plastic bottles. These fabrics have been proven to shed plastic microfibres with every wash, and every one of them is washed down into the ocean. This is not environmentally responsible. It is creating more plastic. Full stop.

The petrochemical industry is widely considered to be the dirtiest on the planet. As an industry, we can't claim enviro-friendly status if oil is the main ingredient. If we profit off oil, we’ve already lost. No amount of recycling, 1% for the Planet contributions, or grants for salmon habitat can balance that out.  

         We must stop supporting oil and gas.

         We must stop supporting wars.

         Ecologyst can do better. So can the rest of the apparel industry. Let’s start now. 

 

Rene Gauthier