What is so dangerous about polyester in clothing?

Mode die unter fairen Bedingungen in Portugal produizert wurde

Nowadays more than 60% of garments are made of polyester. This is a big win for fashion brands: synthetic fibers are cheap, easy to use, and can look like expensive natural fibers. This is a catastrophe for nature and people. But what's so bad about plastic in our clothes?


Every time we wash these materials, thousands of small pieces of microplastic come loose. These threads are so small that they easily pass through water filtration systems and eventually end up in the ocean. Marine animals ingest these small parts and often die from them. Also included in these plastic particles are toxic chemicals used in manufacturing. Experts assume that more than 100 million tons of garbage are floating in the world's oceans. The microplastics also get into our soil, which in turn leads to a decline in biodiversity.


The fast fashion industry relies almost exclusively on synthetic products because it saves money in production and weight in transport because the plastic is so light. 30% of all garments produced are never sold and end up directly in landfill. Purchased items of clothing also end up there, which - sometimes even unworn - are sorted out after a short time.

An article in the Tagesspiegel states: "Almost a quarter (24.3 percent) of all textile waste is incinerated with a high level of CO₂", (...) "More than half of the clothing waste (57.1 percent) ends up the particularly polluting landfills." Globally, less than one percent of used textiles is actually recycled.


Synthetic fibers are mostly made from petroleum and treated with thousands of toxic chemicals. Polyester, acrylic and elastane are not recommended for people with very sensitive skin. Contact and may cause redness or irritation. Apart from the toxic chemicals, synthetic fabrics are not breathable and only partially absorb the smell of sweat, for example.

Long backless tie dress
Unisex t-shirt with oversized fit and embroidered logo
Slightly cropped cardigan made of wool (merino)
Regular fit shirt with scalloped back
Long-sleeved oversized shirt
Cropped linen top with slit neckline