110: Don’t buy clothes made from recycled plastic

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL

Clothes made from recycled plastic do much, much more harm than good

This action might sound a little bit counter to our usual stance, but please read on.

There is a growing trend to make and market clothes as being made from recycled plastic. However, this is clever marketing and an interesting piece of greenwashing, because they do a lot of harm.

Culprits even include major manufacturers such as Nike! (for example https://www.nike.com/gb/t/sportswear-windrunner-zip-up-2mBP47/CZ9245-902)

Recycled clothing advert

If you think about it, although it might sound great that (say) a few plastic water bottles have been used to make a new garment, that plastic is still going to end up in our environment. Some of this will be immediate and ongoing, as microplastic and nanoplastic pieces are shed into the water system every time the garment is washed, and some of it will be when the garment eventually ends up in landfill – which it will because, let’s face it, who is going to know to put an old piece of clothing back into the plastic recycling system?

Why is this important?

In breaking down, these plastics to not really biodegrade into safe by-products. What actually happens is they simply fracture into smaller and smaller pieces. These are the microplastics and nanoplastics that poison our wildlife – especially birds and marine life.

What’s more, because these microscopic pieces of plastic are ingested by creatures at the bottom of our own food chain, they are now increasingly reaching our own plates – especially through fishing.

Rather than directing efforts and attention to initiatives like this which are merely disguising the problem, it is much better to focus on the two things that address the bigger picture:

  • reduce (or eliminate where possible) our use of plastics, especially single use products such as soft drink bottles
  • recycle into products when can be re-recycled and re-re-recycled – the circular economy, as it is known

Please read this interesting article from Friends of the Earth about the impact of plastic microfibres from clothing on our environment and our own food supplies.

Take action

Resolve today to never buy clothes made from recycled plastics. Ideally, buy clothes that are made from natural products such as wool and cotton, whilst taking care to ensure they are being produced in a sustainable and ethical way, of course.

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