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Vegan clothing: Is it actually vegan?

The clothes that you wear are part of your personality. Vegans that choose vegan clothing are doing so in line with their lifestyle and beliefs. 

However, it seems that the clothes they are trusting may not be completely animal-free and could even be harmful to the planet.

Below are some of the worst fabrics for the environment and easy sustainable solutions to transform your closet:

Inorganic Cotton

What is the problem?

Half of all textiles are made of cotton, so your wardrobe is likely to be full of it. However, with toxic pesticides used on cotton plants, it takes ridiculous amounts of water to make. Approximately, 20,000 litres of water is used to produce one kilogram of cotton – that is the equivalent of a single t-shirt or a pair of jeans. That is really not great, chemicals can also irritate the skin. 

Instead, use:

Organic cotton is a better alternative to its inorganic sister. It does not harm farmers or the soil since it does not use toxic chemical treatments and it uses less water than the inorganic version.

Synthetics (Nylon & Polyester)

What is the problem?

From swimwear to activewear, lingerie to rainwear and hosiery, nylon is used in many pieces of clothing since it is lightweight, smooth and durable. Not only is nylon is made from petrochemicals that pollute the environment, but the material is also non- biodegradable. The manufacturing of nylon creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide – not eco-friendly at all. 

Also made from petrochemicals, polyester is mixed into most clothing nowadays. The majority of polyesters are not biodegradable – so that the polyester shirt from last season won’t decompose for at least 20 years (at best) and 200 years (at worst), depending on conditions.

Instead, use:

Hemp. Clothing can be made from a natural fibre that can be easily sustainably dyed and bleached without harsh chemicals. The fabric has a soft feel and very breathable with excellent insulation properties, keeping the wearer warm in cool weather and cool in the summer. Since hemp clothing is created using natural processing techniques, it is an excellent choice for people with chemical sensitivities.

Rayon & Viscose

What is the problem?

Despite being made from plants, the manufacturing of rayon/viscose is not eco-friendly for two BIG reasons. One is that the vast amounts of plants used for the fabric contribute to mass deforestation. Additionally, many toxic chemicals (sodium hydroxide, carbon disulphide and sulfuric acid) are used to make the fabric. So, overall, not a great fabric.

Instead, use:

Lyocell. It is made from wood pulp and is a non-chemical alternative to viscose. The fabric is biodegradable and uses solvents that are 99.9% reclaimed and reused. The production of lyocell uses less energy and water and does not get bleached, a win-win. It also absorbs perspiration, does not allow bacteria to grow and remains odour-free,  meaning fewer washes = less energy used.

As quick and cheap as it is, fast fashion really is not doing the planet any favours. Perhaps soon the industry and consumers will move towards more eco-friendly and vegan clothing choices.

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