Synthetic materials in clothing are man-made or chemically synthesised from organic or inorganic compounds. These materials are created by combining various chemicals and polymers through a process called polymerisation, where molecules (monomers, which are typically derived from petrochemicals) are chemically bonded, then spun into fibers and woven or knitted into synthetic fabrics. Common synthetic materials used in the production of clothing include polyester, nylon, acrylic,
spandex, and rayon.

Why are synthetic materials cheaper to produce than natural materials?

Synthetic materials are often cheaper to produce than natural materials due to several factors:

  1. Raw materials: Synthetic materials are typically derived from petrochemicals, which are abundant and relatively inexpensive compared to plant-based fibers, such as cotton, which are subject to seasonal variations and require significant
    resources to grow and harvest, and animal-based fibers such as wool, where the production involves the raising and shearing of sheep.
  2. Manufacturing cost-effectiveness: The production of synthetic materials can be highly automated and requires less manual labor than the processing of natural fibres. Additionally, synthetic materials can be produced in large quantities with consistent quality, which can result in cost savings.
  3. Availability: Synthetic materials can be produced year-round and are not subject to seasonal availability or regional variations, making them more reliable and predictable in terms of supply and pricing.

Why is synthetic material production critiqued?

There are several reasons but the main ones are listed below:

  1. High energy consumption: The production of synthetic materials requires multiple energy-intensive steps, including the extraction and refinement of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, polymerisation, fibre development, and fabric production. This can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
  2. Resource-intensive: The production of synthetic materials requires the use of non-renewable resources such as petroleum or coal, which are finite and can be environmentally damaging to extract.
  3. Chemical-intensive: Synthetic materials are made from a variety of chemicals, many of which can be hazardous to our health and the
    environment. The steps of the production process both involve the use of chemicals and solvents and can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the air and water, contributing to pollution
    and environmental degradation.
  4. Poor biodegradability: Many synthetic materials are not biodegradable, meaning they can persist in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years. This contributes to the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills, oceans, and other ecosystems.

Overall, while synthetic materials offer many benefits in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness, their production have negative environmental impacts. It is important for manufacturers and consumers to consider the environmental impact of synthetic materials and work towards more sustainable alternatives.

Why are Natural Materials considered more sustainable?

  1. Renewable resources: Natural materials are sourced from renewable resources, such as plants or animals, which can be grown or raised sustainably.
    In contrast, the production of synthetic materials often requires the extraction of non-renewable resources, such as petroleum or coal, which are finite and can be environmentally damaging to extract.
  2. Biodegradability: Many natural materials, such as cotton, wool, and silk, are biodegradable, meaning they break down naturally over time and do not persist in the environment. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, are often made from non-biodegradable polymers, which can take hundreds of years to break down and can contribute to pollution.
  3. Lower carbon footprint: The production of natural materials typically requires less energy than the production of synthetic materials, as they do not need to go through complex chemical processes. This results in a lower carbon footprint and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Healthier for humans and the environment: Natural materials are often free from the toxic chemicals that are used in the production of synthetic materials. This means they are safer for human health and have less negative impact on the environment.

Overall, natural materials are considered more sustainable than synthetic materials because they are sourced from renewable resources, biodegradable, have a lower carbon footprint, and are generally healthier for humans and the environment. However, it is important to note that not all natural materials are sustainable, and some synthetic materials can be produced sustainably. It is important to consider the environmental impact of any material and make informed choices about which materials to use or consume.

Why do we choose Merino Wool out of the mix?

You’ve probably already read that we are big fans of Merino Wool. Why? Well, firstly due to that it is natural but equally important it is the best performing material of everything that we have tested. We love quality and Merino Wool, that by the way is 100 % ethically sourced, possesses the best of both the sustainable and the performance world. Read more here.

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