Saturday, February 11, 2017
When we purchase materials, we want to look for something that is both vegan and
eco-friendly. Eco-friendly does not mean it is vegan, and vegan does not mean it is
eco-friendly. But if a material is not eco-friendly, in the long term, it will probably
Pleather is vegan, but it takes a lot of chemicals and energy to make. Alternatives
to pleather are “vegan leathers” such as: Paper, cork, recycled rubber, organic
waxed cotton, coolstone leather (from slate), tree bark leather (from sustainable
forests), Pintatex (from wasted parts of the pineapple bush), and mushrooms! Of
course, you can wear a cloth purse and avoid the look entirely!
One more word about leather: If you hear or see the words fine leather or soft
leather – stay miles away. The picture above talks about where this fine leather
Fake fur, often called “faux fur” is a problem. It can have real animal fur in it, even
dog fur. Just don’t wear fur at all!
It is always a great idea to purchase from thrift shops because the clothes get
reused, instead of buying new. The important thing about thrift shops is that if you
accidentally buy a wool product (labels are often missing on thrift shop items), the
store owners will not order 50 more wool sweaters to replace the one you bought!
There were be no more animals hurt or killed by your purchase.
What is wrong with wool? Wool is called eco friendly, but it definitely is not vegan.
Sheep often have a huge amount of skin removed (called mulesing), because
farmers somehow think this process will keep the sheep’s back end area cleaner. It
is horrendous to see! Also, sheep are now bred with wavy skin because it will have
more surface area for wool, and sheep are bred with wool that is much thicker and
longer. (Wild sheep have thinner coats and shed them every year.)
Silk is called eco friendly, but it is not vegan. Silk worms make silk threads a mile
long and wrap themselves up in it as their cocoon, where they will become a moth.
They must then eat themselves out of the silk cocoon, which would wreck the mile
long silk, so the farmers have various ways to kill the moth inside the silk. This
means we conscientious consumers do not use silk for a material, including
hydrolyzed silk in soap. It is usually the last ingredient in a soap and is so
unnecessary for them to add it! There are vegan soaps at Kroger’s and Country
Cashmere is eco friendly, but not vegan. However, there is soy cashmere made
from soy, which is eco and vegan! Yes, they have soy clothing! So far, I have
looked online and only found T-shirts, undies, and things that look like you should
dance in them. No soy business suits yet!
Another promising material is Ingeo corn. When looking under “Images” there are
nice clothing items made from corn. And material from corn doesn’t wrinkle!
However, it is difficult to find corn clothing for sale online. Some of these products
seem to be more experimental at this point.
If your goal is to wear clothing that is vegan, natural and organic, you have to see
whether any of these crops were treated with pesticides, whether the materials
were treated with dangerous chemical dyes, or formaldehyde (which stops the
wrinkling), and whether they are fair trade products. Organic cotton is great, but
the cheaper ones wrinkle; the higher the thread count, the less wrinkling there is –
but it is more expensive. And if you want to become as natural as you can possibly
be, go with the natural color of cotton - light green, light brown or cream – because
there are no dyes of any kind in them. Of course, that is quite limiting and
everybody would be wearing the same three colors with no prints available! It
would be novel to have some clothes made that way, however. I also would love a
shirt out of corn or soy, since the majority of us are in corn and soy country!
Linen is also vegan, but it wrinkles! Linen sometimes involves dry cleaning, which
is chemical-laden. Can you tell I don’t like to iron?
Nylon is vegan but uses a lot of chemicals in its making.
Rayon is vegan, but uses some chemicals. Rayon, however, comes in three levels
of environmental friendliness. The next step up from Rayon is called “Modal” and is
from sustainable beech trees. The highest step is Lycocell, and the common brand
name of Lycocell is Tencel. Lycocell is wood cellulose from sustainable farms. It
doesn’t wrinkle! The reason Lycocell is special is because you can wear it longer
without having to wash it, so it is considered very eco-friendly.
Hemp is great – it doesn’t need care or much water or pesticides. It does start out
stiff and has to go through a little processing with chemicals to be softened, but
hemp is a highly recommended eco and vegan product.
Bamboo is also vegan and eco-friendly. Yes, you can wear bamboo! The fibers are
Very rare vegan and eco-friendly clothes are algae clothes and banana fiber
clothes. These seem to be just for fashion shows.
Eco-fabrics are in their infancy, but they are growing. Organic cotton is probably
the easiest to find online. Some of the others have confusing websites. Hopefully,
these eco-fabrics will become more popular and easier to find!
I saved the most popular material to discuss last - polyester. Polyester is vegan,
but it’s not safe for the environment. We just are finding out about this! Polyester
is made of small plastic fibers, and every time your polyester clothes are washed,
microfibers leave the material and your washing machine via the water and
eventually make it into rivers and lakes. They also give off toxins, such as BPA and
PCB’s. Fish now have plastic in their insides, and then birds eat the fish. That
means polyester, polypropylene, fleece, microfiber and acrylic are all harmful. I do
not worry about acrylic yarn, however, because at least in my case, I usually make
afghans and they aren’t washed every time they are used.
From what I read, polyester breaking down in the wash might be worse than
discarding the sweater whole. This sounds discouraging, but we are working on
solutions. Filter balls should be made available for purchase soon that can be
thrown in the washing machine and will gather up the polyester microfibers. Filters
on some energy-efficient washing machines seem to be for water coming into the
machine to be pure. Filters that will clean plastic particles from clothes are still in
In the meantime, wash full loads of clothes because they jostle less, use gentle
cycle, cold water, and run dryer on low to help preserve the clothes.
Big cities have bins labeled “Close the Loop” bins, where you can throw your
polyester cast-offs, and they make the sweaters into playground material, fences,
etc. Going in the opposite direction, but also seen as eco-friendly, there is a
company that makes sweaters out of recycled pop bottles! So polyester can either
be listed as eco-friendly, or one of the worst environmental offenders. But it’s
Let’s finish by talking about gold and diamonds. Certainly, keep your jewelry! But
if you are planning on buying more diamonds, make them lab diamonds. They are
identical to diamonds from mining, except that they can be made perfectly
symmetrical and flawless. They are constructed atom by atom, and end up costing
less than those that are mined. If you Google diamond mining, you will see the
devastation caused, and the huge holes fill up with standing water which causes
mosquitoes to breed and spread malaria. Gold mining is even more devastating.
Land is ripped up for tiny nuggets and chemicals are dumped in water, including
mercury. Mercury attracts gold, and locals who are trying to make a few dollars are
standing in buckets of water where they add mercury to attract gold particles.
Many people are having serious neurological difficulties from it and they dump this
water into the rivers! We can’t afford such devastation to planet earth! We must
change now by boycotting ecologically harmful products, and show the younger
generation so they know people can change. We can’t just leave everything up to
them. If they learn from us and grow with ecological and vegan changes, at some
point, children will be raised in an ecologically friendly culture and not know any