Polyesters are polymers that can be found in the Nature (in the form of cutin, for example, the waterproof polymer that covers the leaves of plants) or produced at an industrial level. The most widely produced polyester fibre is PET, that is the terephthalate polyethylene. We are obviously talking about plastic materials that are obtained from the processing of petroleum derivatives, so of pollutant synthetic fibres.
At the moment polyester fiber is the most produced and used in the world. The field that mainly uses it is the textile one. Polyester is an extremely strong and elastic material and can be combined with many other fabrics. Initially it was mainly used as padding for jackets and duvets, or for the production of fleece sweaters and sportswear. Today it is used for the realization of every type of garments: shirts, trousers, dresses, shoes.
Polyester: why it is so used today by the fashion industry
The debut of polyester on fashion catwalks, occurred in 2004 by Giorgio Armani. This material gained considerable importance thanks to the possibility of recovering its fibres. It was therefore the protection of the environment that brought its use in vogue. In today’s reality, where the word sustainability is increasingly widespread, recycled polyester clothes, in fact, depopulate, enhancing the ethics of recovery.
But the point is: can we really talk about sustainability by making polyester clothes?
Let’s say that without the concept of recycling the terms sustainability and polyester, totally antithetical to each other, would have no chance of meeting.
The concept of sustainability
First of all, it is necessary to understand what is meant by sustainability and to what extent can be broadened the meaning of the term.
Sustainable development aims at protecting and respecting the environment and human beings. The approach to life takes place with a view to safeguarding every living being and resource on the planet.
Today, sustainability is becoming an essential factor for companies in every field, a strong point in marketing strategies. That’s why the subject is not always faced in a coherent way. It is good, in fact, to be careful and ask questions to understand what is really worth buying.
Polyester and sustainability
Polyester fiber itself has nothing sustainable. As we mentioned, today, through the practice of recycling, sustainability and polyester can coexist within the same sector, the one of fashion. The fiber is produced by the recovery of plastic bottles, effectively subtracting them from a process, that of recycling, which is not always successful. Unfortunately, the cost of oil is, at the moment, so small to make the production of plastic cheaper than the recycling of it.
The recovery of polyester in the clothing sector allows to work with a view to a circular economy, this is true. The problem is that some of the fundamental principles of sustainability are missing.
Why polyester is always the wrong choice
Making polyester clothes, despite it reduces the pressure of plastic waste on recycling companies, is still a source of pollution. A wardrobe rich in synthetic fibre clothes, will produce a huge amount of microplastics poured into the sea. During each washing in the washing machine, in fact, these fibers lose very small fragments, that when reach the sea become food for the fish and, subsequently, also for us. Microplastics, in addition to being a huge environmental problem, are also a risk to the health of living beings.
The polyester fiber, moreover, in contact with the skin retains moisture, generating a series of negative consequences. Bad smell, absence of breathability and formation of electrostatic charges that do not allow the body the natural exchange of electricity with the surrounding environment.
In conclusion, it can be said that it makes no sense to consider polyester a sustainable fibre. If on the one hand it reuses waste materials, on the other hand those same materials do not have a good impact on the health of the environment and people. Sustainability implies a precise choice: the rejection of everything that hinders the well-being of every form of life. That’s why the words polyester and sustainability cannot have any kind of connection and bond, despite good intentions and good proposals.