The most important trend in the clothing world is utilizing sustainable & eco-friendly fabrics. From cotton to man-made fibers like Poly, Nylon, etc., it seems there is no limit in what we can recycle in fabrics, and it is not that hard to find clothing with recycled fibers. And considering the volume of the clothing made worldwide daily, it makes perfect sense that we recycle this huge pile of clothing before they end up in the landfill. Especially considering the amount of plastic we consume every day, this sounds like the perfect solution. Well, at least that is what the clothing brands are telling us. But does recycling poly & nylon fibers really help reducing plastic waste?
Let’s talk about the process of recycling these plastic fibers. In a big picture, there are two ways to recycle plastic waste into a fiber. One is the mechanical method, and the other is the chemical method.

Chemically recycling plastic starts with melting the plastic waste into a goo using industrial chemicals. When the plastic gets chemically melted into a goo, it keeps the original chemical attributes, meaning it could be recycled again & again when this product becomes a waste again. This sounds like the proper way to recycle the plastic, but the recycling process has much higher cost than making new plastic fibers. In the world of fast fashion with cut-throat price competition, this is not a viable option for most of clothing items. And the chemicals being used in the process are extremely dangerous & harmful to the environment.

Mechanically recycling starts with grinding plastic waste into smaller pallets. Then these small pallets get melted with heat to be spun into yarns. It is cost-friendly, so most of the recycled poly or nylon clothing in the market uses this type of recycled fibers. The downside with this mechanical recycling is, these recycled fibers can never be recycled again. Once any plastic gets heated, it becomes brittle & loses the flexibility. Because of this reason, mechanically recycled fibers can’t be used without fresh new plastic fibers. If you ever wonder why there is no 100% recycled fiber clothing, this is why. And there is no technology to separate these recycled plastic & fresh ones in the garments, so these garments will go straight to the landfill when they become trash.
How about the microplastic these recycled fibers shed every time being washed? The researchers say that the recycled fibers produce much more microplastic than the fresh new fibers, in some cases 2-3 times more. So now with the popularity of the recycled fibers, we are heavily increasing the amount of microplastic to Mother Earth!!

And yet, most of the major brands advertises the recycled fiber garments as a sustainable solution to the environment. If this is not a greenwashing, I don’t know what is.

That is why we at American Classic 248 stand fast to use cotton only. At least until some genius find a solution to use plastic fibers in more sustainable way.

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