We must learn to wear natural fibers only: Organic cotton alone, will not tackle the environmental crisis, but it can help
Researchers from Groningen University, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory disclosed on Sourcing Journal that polyester and nylon textiles interfere with the ability of lungs to expand and develop. Patients recovering from COVID-19 and many with lung injury are also at risk. «A virus damages lung tissue, and if you have to recover from that while your lungs are filled with fibers that impede this recovery, then you have another problem on top of COVID-19», says Barbro Melgert, associate professor of pharmaceutical immunology at Groningen University and the study’s principal investigator. According to Melgert’s report, discussed on the Plastic Soup Foundation, a typical household produces about 44 pounds of domestic dust each year, six of which are microplastics from synthetic clothing, carpets, and furniture. For the most part, healthy lungs are capable of filtering out this pollution. Synthetic garments shed microscopic fibers when worn. The report states that a gramme of polyester fabric can shed up to 4,000 tiny fibers during a single traditional wash cycle, and the same cloth can shed a comparable amount after only three hours of daily wear. According to the findings of this research, a single person could introduce approximately 300 million polyester microfibers into the atmosphere each year by washing their clothes and more than 900 million into the air by wearing them. Scientists from the environmental nonprofit Ocean Wise discovered in 2020 that synthetic fibers account for nearly 92 percent of microplastics emissions detected in near-surface seawater samples from around the Arctic Ocean, indicating the problem’s pervasiveness. According to the study, about 73 percent of those are polyester fibers that are consistent in size, shape, and type with those shed by clothing and textiles during laundry.
Chemical plastics causing a decline in fertility
The latest essay by Shanna H. Swan, Count Down, demonstrates – with scientific data and analysis – how chemical plastics are causing a drastic decline in fertility. The epidemiologist from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York four years ago co-authored a study that revealed how the sperm count of the average Western man, between 1973 and 2011, had dropped by 59%. This is caused by the presence of endocrine disruptors, coming from plastics, in human cells. Chemicals have also been found in the umbilical cord. Phthalates, used to make plastics soft and flexible, are the main hazards: they decrease sperm production in men while lowering libido and increasing the risk of miscarriages or premature births in women. They are the same that are for the production, processing and packaging of food, let alone clothing. The bisphenol used to harden plastic, which is found in the lining of some canned food containers, is also to blame.
SIEL’s organic cotton
Whether that be food or fashion, what we consume both in and out of our bodies is a major dilemma. Organic cotton alone will not tackle the environmental crisis, but it may be an alternative fiber that can avoid the releasing and inhaling of toxic micro-pollutants. We talked with the founders of SIEL, an independent label that thanks to its 100% GOTS certified organic cotton is guaranteeing the highest quality and safety on the slow-fashion market. The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification is a standard applied to organic textiles, supported internationally for sustainable production. It offers a set of guidelines designed to ensure consumer adherence to strict environmental and social standards imposed at all stages of organic textile production – from natural fiber-collecting to eventual manufacturing and packaging. Co-Founder Eleonora Milani, art historian, editor and former dancer, explained in detail why organic cotton is beneficial for health and environment-wise. «Organic cotton is hand-picked, allowing for the preservation of original fibers and the preservation of quality. Cotton seeds that have not been chemically treated cause the soil to be more fertile and productive. Softer and more robust garments are the products of an organic agricultural standard process in which material protection is prioritized. Traditional cotton production is unsustainable. Pesticides cause allergies. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is hypoallergenic. Its production cuts greenhouse gas emissions by forty percent and it also decreases irrigation water use by 91 percent. When compared to conventional cotton picking, the advantages are clear», Milani detailed.
Natural fibers decrease their environmental hazard
Organic cotton also decreases algae overproduction, which occurs as a result of excess nutrients in rivers and canals. Waste synthetic materials and acrylics are to blame for this nutrient surplus that affects water streams, since they have undergone chemical treatments. Natural fabrics, such as pure cotton, that have not been chemically processed, result in no microplastics release. There is a general agreement that natural fibers if untreated with chemicals are good, with their biodegradability decreasing their environmental hazard (in comparison to that of plastic). According to Yves Michel Kondombo – SIEL’s Co-founder and international development cooperation specialist – the idea to launch their label stemmed from the personal need of wearing quality and skin-friendly garments. This became more urgent when Kondombo realized his body was reacting to most of the clothing he was wearing, despite their brand status, price or composition – something uncomfortable that he identified starting from undergarments. «I tried to buy high quality products at high prices, thinking that at a higher price I would find quality out of expensive particular materials, but I was wrong» he said from his experience. The duo started brainstorming to propose something new, to provide safe clothing made of organic materials that would go with sensitive skins.
SIEL’s SKIN capsule series and packaging
SIEL unveiled its latest campaign SKIN, YOUR ELEMENT on March 15, 2021, as part of the SKIN capsule series. «Skin is the most extended organ of our body. It shields, filters, and modulates external stimuli while also binding them to internal ones. Skin serves as a barrier between the self and the non-self. It connects the body to the outside world». Kondombo detailed the ethos of his label. BLOOM is the collection’s first piece. The sweatshirt is made of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton from Italian producers, is hypoallergenic, breathable, and fully sustainable. The model is colorless, which means the fabric has not been exposed to any chemical treatment or dyeing processes. BLOOM is genderless, has a comfortable fit, and is available in five unisex sizes. After Kondombo – a twenty-eight-year old Burkinabé-born and Italian-raised young man – specialized in Technology and Innovation Management, he started conducting research into packaging. «Many people are taken aback by our packaging choice. We are all aware that almost all clothing is sold in plastic, so we set out to find an alternative», Milani filled in. SIEL selected ‘Pura Natura’ sack and the Italian producer GIMA Packaging for the wrapping of items from their #TRUE capsule, as an exclusively Made in Italy product that adheres to the label’s ethical principles. The Oscar-awarded Pura Natura sack used by SIEL, is made of semi-transparent calendered pure cellulose and composed of low thickness paper entirely made up of virgin long fibers. Adercarta – a reference company in sustainable packaging and a strong advocate of complete recycling of single-material paper – has planned for the food supply chain, compostable, recyclable packaging. It is regarded as a revolutionary product that stands out for its wet resistance due to its use of FSC accredited fibers (a guarantee for responsible forest management).
Is a sustainable fashion label focused on human being’s nature. Independent and ethically made. Sustainability, multiculturalism and gender fluidity are parts of the brand’s DNA, which places organic fabrics in a contemporary cut. SIEL cares about reconnecting everyone to their skin, to their soul and their nature. SIEL wants to make sustainability cool, embracing sustainable raw materials in production.