During winter, I’m always adding layers, and am grateful for the near-magical properties of synthetic fabrics like Lycra and GoreTex that keep me comfortable, dry and warm both in and out of the studio.
However, it occurred to me that it is a bit strange to rely so heavily on manufactured materials, while making a conscious effort to seek natural options in terms of food, grooming products, etc.
Is it hypocritical to eat organic and wear Spandex? Should we be swapping our hi-tech parkas for oil-skin rain slickers?
The short answer is — there is no short answer.
After doing some reading (I recommend this interesting article) on the costs and benefits of natural versus manufactured fibres I realised it isn’t simple. Natural fibres like wool or cashmere still incur an environmental cost, and often raise animal welfare concerns.
Meanwhile, fabrics like Lycra, nylon or acrylic, are produced from fossil fuels, are non-biodegradable, and are made using dangerous chemicals.
This raises ethical as well as practical questions. It is imperative to stay warm and dry. We need sport-specific clothes for yoga, cycling, running, etc.
Yet we also need to think about our impact on the planet and our fellow creatures.
Here are a few ideas:
- Buy fewer but better-quality items, avoiding things that wear out quickly
- Use Ebay, charity shops, etc to buy and sell/donate items
- Seek clothes made of recycled plastic, like Sloppy Tunas swimwear
- Buy natural-fibre clothing from brands like IAIOS, which uses recycled wool