8 Steps to making your wardrobe PVC plastic free

Do you love those new wet look leggings you just bought? Or can’t get enough of your shiny, waterproof trench? I’m sorry to break it to ya but it’s probably made of PVC. 

Polyvinyl chloride, aka “PVC”, akathe poison plastic”, is the world’s third most common type of plastic. Unfortunately of all the plastics, PVC poses the most harm to animal and human health. 

Where will I find it? 

PVC is used in millions of products, including pipes, medical equipment, kitchen material, blistered packaging (think pill packs), shampoo bottles, and even clothing

Many countries have already banned the use of PVC in babies’ clothing, and consumer groups and environmental advocates have banded forces, pushing for PVC textiles to be banned outright. 

Source: Vinyl.org.au

Here’s 8 steps to making sure your wardrobe is PVC free.


1.

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Always check labels before making a purchase

Look out for labels with “vinyl”, “vinyon”, “phthalate”, “V” or “PVC” which means that the garment contains a form of PVC. Don’t assume that because something is designer, it’s PVC free. In recent years some fashion houses have made PVC the star of their collections.


2.

Source: Alibaba.com

The slippery slope of the “waterproof”.

Heralded for its water-resistant properties, PVC is a popular material in rainwear. So next time you’re buying a new raincoat or rain boots, check to make sure these don’t contain PVC. 


3.

Source: Toprisesafety.com

Ring the alarm when something is “fire-resistant”.

PVC fabrics are known for their toughness and often incorporated in “fire-resistant” clothing. Because it’s so durable PVC is also popular in boots and shoes. 


4.

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Steer clear of anything see-through! 

Do you have a see-through toiletries bag? A clear clutch? A transparent tote? A pair of sandals with a translucent strap? Unfortunately, these kitschy items that reveal what lies within are almost always made from PVC. 


5.

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Don’t be fooled by the promise of vegan leather. 

The booming vegan leather industry is perched to revolutionize fashion, replacing animal skin with “sustainable” leather alternatives. Sadly, some faux leathers don’t always rely on bio-materials. Instead, they incorporate PVC to make synthetic leather that’s just as if not more harmful than its animal counterparts. 


6.

Source: Stylecaster.com

Even the sun doesn’t shine forever. 

PVC fabrics are often shiny and glossy. Combined with PVC’s wetlook, and figure-hugging fit, the poison plastic has been increasingly used in the production of miniskirts, minidresses, coats, corsets, and stage wear. 


7.

Source: Net-a-porter.com

Latex lingerie isn’t as sexy as it sounds. 

PVC’s leathery look makes it common in erotic lingerie. The next time you are picking out lingerie and accessories for a sensual night of bedroom fun, make sure your catsuit, corset, or thong are PVC free. 


8.

Source: vstyleblog.com

Warning: some graphic tees contain graphic content.  

While we all love graphic tees that pay homage to our favourite rock bands, many screen-printing companies actually use PVC in their prints. As a general guide, prints that feature a shiny ink are telltale sign of  PVC.


5 most and least sustainable fabrics

As fast fashion begins to slow down, old and new brands are starting to see that not only are sustainable fabrics the best choice for the environment, they are also in higher demand than ever. We all know consumer demand is the key to creating lasting change and at 8Shades we are all about making more conscious choices even if it’s just a small change.

Did you know as much as 35% of all microplastics in the marine environment are fibres from synthetic clothing, largely a result of fast fashion. These fabrics are durable, cheap and easily available, but many of them are made through wasteful, chemically-intensive or ethically harmful processes.

Additionally, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater, while also releasing 50 billion plastic bottles’ worth of microplastics into the environment each year. So let’s all do our part.


Here’s our list of five synthetic fabrics to avoid:

Polyester, Acrylic and Nylon

Most synthetic fibres are made from crude oil, so they are non-biodegradable and not easily recyclable, each taking up to 200 years to break down. They also shed microplastics when used or washed with each washing cycle releasing over 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment!

Polyester

Polyester is used in many products, from T-shirts to bottles. Polyester is incredibly water-intensive to produce and the wastewater contains harmful chemical dyes that spill into waterways, polluting local communities and causing health issues to factory workers. 

Acrylic

Acrylic is used to make winter essentials, like sweaters, hats and gloves, but its environmental impact is not so warm and fuzzy- acrylonitrile, a key ingredient in acrylic production, can enter the body through skin contact or inhalation and cause dizziness, and nausea for the people making these clothes.

Nylon

Typically used in tights and stockings, as well as swim and activewear, its production uses massive amounts of water and energy, polluting water in the process. Producing nylon also creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more concentrated than carbon dioxide!

Cotton

Conventional cotton (not to be confused with organic cotton) is one of the biggest water-wasting crops on the planet; a single pair of jeans requires more than 70,000 litres, while a T-shirt requires 11,000 litres! Cotton farming also uses pesticides that sink into soil and water supplies. They don’t just harm bugs, short term pesticide exposure can cause nausea and seizures, while long-term exposure can cause asthma and cancer. 

Rayon

In a prime example of greenwashing, rayon is considered the “sustainable alternative” to polyester. Rayon is made by dissolving cellulose (the main element of plant cell walls) into a chemical solution and then spinning it into threads. The fibre itself is biodegradable and non-toxic, making it popular in fast fashion, but it is extremely water, energy and chemical intensive. The demand for the plant-based material also increases the demand for, you guessed it, plants; worsening deforestation. 

Biodegradability isn’t the only factor to consider though, durability contributes to slow fashion. So if it breaks down easily and naturally yet is not durable enough to wear for decades, is it really sustainable? We think not. Fear not though, all it takes is a little research to know what to look for and a few favourite brands that are doing things right. 


Thankfully, many in the industry are working to make sustainable clothing that doesn’t compromise on looks. 

Here’s our list of 5 natural fabrics to buy more of:

Linen

One of the oldest known fibres, linen is also one of the most sustainable. Its production process requires less water and pesticides than many other materials, making it chemical residue-free. Linen is absorbent, durable and breathable; while the time-consuming production process generally makes it more expensive, linen can decompose in as little as two weeks in the right environment. Check out Hong Kong-based brand Classics Anew, who gives the traditional Chinese qipao a contemporary twist by blending organic cotton and linen with classic Chinese elements like mandarin collars and buttons. 

Hemp

Hemp is the most durable of all natural fibres, requiring minimal water and pesticides, allowing it to decompose in as little as four months. Hemp also adds rich organic matter to soil, making it safe to dispose of. Lightweight and sweat-absorbent, hemp fibre is perfect for humid Asian weather. Levi’s Wellthread Collection includes its classic 511 jeans made with hemp fibre.

Organic Cotton

Not to be confused with “conventional” cotton, organic cotton is produced without pesticides or fertilisers, making the end products free of chemical residues and able to decompose within just 5 months. Everlane offers a vast range of clothing pieces that are made using recycled materials and organic cotton and has vowed to move all of its cotton to certified organic by 2023.

Soy

To produce soy fibres, soybean proteins are broken down and filtered into long strands. These fibres absorb dyes quickly and have UV-resistant qualities, making them ideal for summertime. 

Cellulose Fibre

Cellulose fibres, including modal, viscose and lyocell, are extracted from plant-based materials and are recyclable, biodegradable, and dye well, resulting in less chemical pollution. Trenery incorporates light & airy cellulosic fibres in its clothing.


We love that more and more clothing manufacturers are choosing to use eco-friendly fabrics and diversifying their products, while reducing reliance on any 1 material resource. Now you know that your choices are important in paving the way for a more sustainable future, doing good and looking good.