As parents, we always want the best for our children. This includes not only their health and well-being but also the impact we have on the environment, the environment THEY are going to inherit from us after we are gone.
Unfortunately, synthetic fabrics, which make up approximately 60% of the global textile market, can pose a significant risk to both our children's health and the planet. Yes they’re cheaper than natural fibre clothing and definitely more affordable than organic options, but there is a reason for that, one that should be discussed and considered.
According to Greenpeace, polyester, one of the most common synthetic fabrics, takes over 200 years to decompose, and flame retardants used in synthetic fabrics have been found in high concentrations in children's blood and urine (Environmental Working Group). Synthetic fabrics leave a significant environmental and health impact including:
- Skin irritation and allergies: Synthetic fabrics are made from plastic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. These fabrics are not breathable and can trap sweat and bacteria against the skin, leading to skin irritation and even allergic reactions.
- Respiratory problems: Synthetic fabrics are often treated with chemicals to improve their performance and durability. These chemicals can emit harmful fumes, which can be inhaled and cause respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
- Flame retardants: Synthetic fabrics are often treated with flame retardants to meet safety standards. These chemicals can be harmful to children, leading to developmental delays, hormone disruption, and even cancer.
- Environmental impact: Synthetic fabrics are made from non-renewable resources, and the manufacturing process can be extremely harmful to the environment. The production of synthetic fabrics involves the use of toxic chemicals, water, and energy, contributing to pollution and climate change.
- Microplastics: Synthetic fabrics shed microplastics when they are washed, which can enter the water supply and harm marine life. These microplastics can also be ingested by humans through the food chain, leading to potential health risks.
It's important to consider the potential risks of synthetic fabrics when choosing clothes for our children. Opting for natural and better still certified organic or OEKO-tex certified fabrics such as cotton, linen, and wool can be a safer and more sustainable option. By choosing these fabrics, we can reduce the risk of skin irritation and respiratory problems, avoid exposure to harmful chemicals, and make a positive impact on the environment.
As caring parents, we all want what's best for our children, regardless of our background or income. While natural and organic fabrics may seem more expensive at first, their benefits far outweigh the cost (not to mention their longevity credentials and thus cost per wear considerations). Not only are they of higher quality and more durable, but they also pose fewer health risks compared to synthetic fabrics.
In addition, their production is more sustainable and contributes less to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. By choosing sustainable clothing options for our little ones, we are not only making a smart investment but also taking a step towards a healthier and more sustainable future