Don’t like wrinkled clothes? Don’t like to iron? Then
buy materials with polyester? Perhaps we want to think again about what is
convenient, practical, or time saving.
All choices have consequences, right?
Sisters and Associates in the Congregation participate
in a campaign against the wide use of plastics—straws, containers, bags.
Clothing/materials have escaped our attention, yet 60% of our clothing made out
of plastic. Polyester comes from oil—a polymer
which is a long chain of repeating molecular units; the synthetic polyester of
clothing results from a chemical reaction involving coal, petroleum, air, and
water (one type: purified terephthalic acid or PTS). (For the non-chemical
engineer the names are tongue-twisters.) Polyester has become ubiquitous in
clothing because the threads in the spinning process can be spun short or long
which enables blending the threads with the natural fabric threads of cotton,
wool or silk. And so we can have our warm fleece or non-wrinkle pants or
fast-drying shirts. Did you know that China is a leader in producing all
A major problem exists, however: producing polyester
requires great amounts of fuel—oil and coal—which releases significant CO2 into
our atmosphere—adding to the CO2 and methane trapping the sun’s heat on our
earth and into our oceans. We in the US and peoples around the world in the
Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia experience its consequences of extremes in
heat, fires, droughts, and home losses. Do we include all the animals, fish,
and birds lost in these events?
Another related consequence is adding to the amount of
plastic in our earth’s water. In laundering fleece and other materials-often of
50-50 polyester fabric composition-microfibers are released by heat into the
waste water, ending up in our oceans, lakes, rivers for ingestion by aquatic
creatures and us.
All of us can and must speak up and resist continued
dependence upon fossil fuels.