Polyester, nylon, and acrylic are common modern-day synthetic fabrics that are used in clothes and beddings. But you may have heard of the buzz as well – Environmentalists are raging with “synthetic fabrics are bad for the environment”. Some fabric companies are also taking the chance to bash and devalue synthetic fabrics. Are synthetic fabrics really that bad!?
But before we go into the realms of “synthetic fabrics are all bad and no good”, there are some redeeming points to touch on. Some of these so-called “organic fabrics” are also not any better for the environment either. Read on for more!
WHAT ARE SYNTHETIC & ORGANIC FABRICS?
For the uninitiated, there has been a “war” going on between synthetic and organic fabrics for a long time now. To keep the long story short:
- Synthetic fabrics are man-made through chemical processes. E.G. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, kevlar, etc…
- Organic fabrics are obtained through natural means. E.G. Wool, cotton, hemp, bamboo, etc…
What’s the big deal between these two?
- Synthetic fabrics are generally seen as the “bad guys” – They are “toxic, causes cancer, and unsustainable”.
- While organic fabrics are generally seen as the “good guys” – They are “sustainable, non-toxic, natural, and renewable”.
But the story turns out to be different with some good research, neither of them is good or bad by any means. The so-called “good organic fabrics” may be treated with toxic chemicals, while the so-called “bad synthetic fabrics” can be non-toxic and biodegradable with plant-based substitutes.
WHAT MAKES SYNTHETIC FABRICS BAD
Right, you guys who are new to this “environmental health blame game” may be lost to the long list of “rocket science” terms by now. So here’s a quick explanation, and a “common list of shame” on why some people hate synthetic fabrics so much.
- Toxic & Unsustainable – The main ingredients of synthetic fabrics are essentially thin plastic threads and petroleum. The manufacturing process may involve the use of toxic chemicals that are bad for both human health and the environment.
- Microplastics – When synthetic fabrics are washed, small bits of plastic (microplastics) fall off. They don’t “melt and disappear” (non-biodegradable), and eventually flow back into the sea. What happens next is, fish in the sea will eat the microplastics, and humans will eat the contaminated fish.
- Cancer-Causing – Some studies suggest that the use of plastics and synthetic fabrics may contribute to cancer.
- Not good as a fabric – Synthetic fabrics are deemed to be “non-breathable”, do not absorb sweat, retain odors, are prone to static electricity, and are possibly toxic.
WHAT MAKES SYNTHETIC FABRICS GOOD
Enough with the bashing, let us visit the other side of the coin too. Synthetic fabrics must have some good qualities, or they would have disappeared from the market long ago.
- Durable – Yes, it’s quite literally made of plastic strings and generally lasts a lot longer than organic fabrics.
- Stretch & Wrinkle-Resistant – Synthetic fabrics tend to retain their shape very well. They do not stretch nor wrinkle easily.
- Water & Stain-Resistant – Again, having that “plastic property” makes it water-resistant too. In other words, they do not stain easily.
- Inexpensive – The best part about synthetic fabrics is probably “value for money”. Modern manufacturing pretty much ensures good quality synthetic fabric bedding at a good price.
MYTHS AND FACTS OF SYNTHETIC FABRICS
So far so good? Let us now finally touch on the “common shames” once again and answer the “are synthetic bedding bad” in more detail.
- Toxic and not sustainable – Well, it actually depends on the manufacturing process. While petroleum is used to make synthetic fabrics, there is something called “biofuel” now. That is plant-based, non-toxic, and biodegradable. The use of toxic chemicals is also being regulated by many health authorities worldwide.
- Causes cancer – Not true. Do a search for “can plastic cause cancer” online, and you will find many authorities saying “no direct proof”. Let common sense prevail for a minute too. There are so many BPA-free, food-grade water bottles today. Why can’t synthetic bedding do the same?
- Bad for the environment – True, microplastics are becoming a real concern to deal with. Even if they are bio-degradable, they don’t just disappear overnight.
- Bad as a fabric – Not true. Why do synthetic clothing and bedding exist? Because people are buying and using them. 100% synthetic fabric may not be the best for bedding, but there are combinations of part organic and part synthetic fabrics.
BOTTOM LINE – “ORGANIC” FABRICS ARE JUST AS BAD
Before you fall into the “synthetic fabrics are bad” cult, here are a couple more facts to be aware of.
- Some people suffer allergic reactions to the chemicals used in treating synthetic fabrics. But it’s the same with some organic fabrics that are treated with chemicals.
- The manufacturing of “organic” cotton comes with elevated cancer risk – U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Farming of cotton is not sustainable, it uses 20000 liters of water to produce just 1kg of cotton. Above that, the use of fertilizers and insecticides – Sustain Your Style
- Which is more sustainable – Using a single synthetic fabric bedding or two organic fabric beddings in 3-4 years? In the long term, one would have easily used twice the number of “sustainable organic beddings” and consumed double the resources.
CONCLUSION – DON’T FALL FOR THE MARKETING TRICKS
Yes, there are bad synthetic fabric manufacturers out there polluting the Earth. By all means, these villains need to be stopped and canned. But that does not mean the so-called “organic fabrics” are clean either – They are just as bad with the chemical treatments and non-compliance with safety protocols.
So why do people automatically vilify synthetic fabrics, and think that whatever “organic” ones are good? When in actual fact, “synthetic fabrics are bad” is simply used as a marketing scare tactic to get people to buy the so-called “sustainable products”.
Don’t fall for that trick, research and information are your best friends. Synthetic or organic beddings should not matter – What matters is how it is being produced, and which one fits your needs. Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this short guide. I hope it has helped to answer your doubts. Good luck and have better nights of sleep!
LINKS & REFERENCES
- Synthetic Fibers: The Manufacturing Process and Risks to Human and Environment – Owlcation
- Good Reasons why Polyester shouldn’t be in your bed– The House Of Pillows