Did you know that Saint Basics owners Peter and Anita are avid deep sea divers? And that they use part of their time under water to clear plastic from the ocean? So it should come as no surprise that we try very hard to let as little plastic as possible get back into the environment through our production!
What do clothing, plastic particles and the ocean have to do with each other? A lot, once you realize how much of our clothing is made of polyester and polyamide. That's right, that sexy lace on your underwear is made of plastic! And it's probably in the fabric itself too. Micro-plastics are a major concern because they are polluting the furthest reaches of the world's oceans. They get into the waste water through your washing machine, and eventually end up in the sea. Here they are eaten by various fish and sea creatures, and end up in our own food chain.
But which pieces of clothing actually contain micro-plastics, and what should you, as a consumer, be more aware of? We answer many questions about this. Take a look at the most frequent ones!
Which fabrics are responsible for plastic pollution?
Micro-plastic in clothing largely comes from polyamide or polyester, which is used very frequently. Even recycled polyester, which is often promoted as a 'sustainable' fabric these days, is bad for the environment. A recent study from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and funded by Patagonia, showed that clothes made from polyester can shed on average 1.7 grams of microfibres each wash. Another possible culprit is elastane, which is used to give a piece of clothing it's stretch. We use it too, to ensure our clothes have a good fit.
Why do you use plastic wrapping to ship your clothes?
We've thought long and hard about this. In the past, we experimented with paper and cardboard packaging, but these often don't survive the trip when we ship them. What we use now is oxo-biodegradable plastic, a 100% biodegradable plastic that is broken down and eaten by bacteria, right down to the last bite. This means no micro-particles end up in the environment.
I've heard that lyocell also releases plastic into the environment. What about your eucalyptus fabric?
Eucalyptus fibres definitely don't release any plastic on their own. However, we do mix the fabric with 5% elastane for a good fit. It's possible that this does release plastic particles in the long run. At this time there is no usable alternative, but our producer Impetus, in Portugal, is working on developing a biological version of elastane. The moment this becomes available for production we will gladly start using it.
If I want to avoid micro-plastics, should I choose eco-cotton?
No, the choice between cotton and organic fibres isn't really relevant when it comes to plastic pollution. The real culprits are artificial fibres like polyamide and polyester. These fibres are present in an awful lot of clothing, even in recycled form. We actively choose not to take part in this pollution.