So I have spent a couple of hours this afternoon reloading my online shop with soaps and a few new products. For those of you that don't know I dabble in sewing as well and have decided that these 2 things - soap and sewing- compliment each other very well.
To that end I have been making a range of bags that have a water resistant lining making them perfect for make up bags and wash bags.
There is a problem though. The rip stop fabric I am using is 100% polyester. It is made from plastics derived from the oil and petroleum industry and checking your wardrobes will show you that it is extensively used in the fashion industry. It is not biodegradable. The dyes used to colour them are often not biodegradable either. Why the heck are we using this product then?
it is an argument very much like the sustainable palm oil debate. The alternatives may not be better. The production of polyester is heat intensive requiring large volumes of water for cooling. But... garments made from natural fibres have their own ethical considerations. Take cotton for instance - historically the dirtiest and thirstiest industry. Polyester production uses a lot of energy but not quite as much as acrylic and nylon. Polyester has a high carbon footprint. On the other hand polyester doesn't require pesticides, fertiliser or agricultural inputs.
Putting aside the manufacturing process there is the consumer experience to consider. Some may argue that polyester needs less washing and ironing and after purchase care so this has a positive impact on the carbon footprint. There is also an argument that polyester is cheaper for the customer so there are positive employment, revenue and business implications to be had from polyester production.
So, with polyester’s general lack of eco friendliness, there’s also textile upkeep, economic benefits, and the ability to modify textile traits that comes with them.
It can be a tradeoff.
And this is where I am. In order to provide you with items that compliment my soaps I will continue to use the 100% polyester rip stop as it is relatively inexpensive and will be multiple use by you - the consumer. Its not single use and throw away. We are making progress constantly with our recycling opportunities and although polyester can be recycled it is currently somewhat expensive alternatives and improvements in this will come along. I personally will keep my eyes open for more environmentally acceptable products and pass these to you.
Its never as simple.