Look, we get it. It’s hard to be conscious about sustainability when there are approximately 10,000 individual voices competing for our attention and trying to influence us into taking certain action as we doom scroll on the little glass “window to the universe” we pull from our pockets. And before you click away we want to clarify, we’re not here to lecture, or virtue signal, or guilt trip anyone into change. Hell, we’re as guilty as anyone when it comes to consuming fashion that most likely didn’t have the wellbeing of the planet in mind when it was produced. Having clothes in our closets made by not-quite-sustainable sources is damn near impossible to avoid completely. Trust us, we get it.
However, on this Earth Day of all earth days, we wanted to take a moment to talk through some of the reasons why we go about production the way we do. ‘Sustainability’ is the guiding principle for why we started DSNY, but that word specifically–sustainability–is a dirty word. It’s been pillaged by brands using it inauthentically in their greenwashing tactics. There’s no real standard for it and no regulation of how and when it’s used. But for us, it’s quite simple with a very specific meaning…our version of sustainability lies at targeting the most pollutive aspect of fashion: synthetic fibers. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon are petroleum based materials made using the same exact processes as plastic. Our mission is simple: alleviate the fashion world’s plastic pollution problem by stripping it from all textiles. Earth conscious production is something we care deeply about. To us it's about more than just feeling good about ourselves. It’s about creating healthy practices for our minds, bodies, and the environments we find ourselves in… doing good for good’s sake, and creating opportunities for the best parts of life to flourish. And one of the ways we can do that is by educating about how, in our industry, the use of synthetic fabrics and even recycled plastics are having a hugely negative impact on both our planet, and frankly, our bodies.
For instance, did you know that the average human consumes approximately 5 grams of small plastic particles every week? That’s as much as the weight of your credit card. All working its way into your system through pollution caused by different processes involving synthetic materials. Evidence of micro plastic pollution and contamination has been found across the planet… from the summit of Mount Everest to some of the deepest accessible beds of the ocean floor.
On the surface, synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, and nylon seem like “wonder materials”. They’re ultra-durable, are seldom prone to wrinkling, and cost very little to manufacture. That's why they are so frequently used in products like clothing, carpets, upholstery, and plastic bottles. The problem with these synthetic materials is that they break down during the wash process, and release particles (up to 1.5M fibres in single cycle) small enough to pass through water treatment plants… and ultimately end up polluting marine ecosystems… thus making their way into the human food chain and… you get the picture. Add that all up, and you get a whopping 400M tonnes of micro plastic contamination per year. (That’s over 25,000x the weight of the empire state building.)
And as these plastic fibers enter our bodies, studies have shown:
1. That specific types of harm, including cell death, allergic response, and damage to cell walls, were caused by the levels of microplastics that people ingest.
2. Microplastics can act as endocrine disruptors, and interfere with normal hormone function.
3. When in the gut, plastic particles can trigger an immune response and activate inflammation, with mounting evidence suggesting that nanoplastics specifically “trigger chemical pathways involved in the formation of cancer.
Not good. For anyone.
As members of this industry, we think fashion is going to go through a reckoning in the coming years. It’s the second largest polluter after oil. But the truth is, it’s not just the companies, but the consumer who can lead the change. We’re part of that too. That’s why we’re trying to practice what we preach by setting the table for fashion on a plastic free diet and using organic cotton, hemp, and other bio based fabrics. It’s about more than waste, it’s about health, and making small positive changes that add up over time. So today, as we advocate for change and demonstrate our support for the health of our planet, let’s remember that the benefits that come from this sort of intentionality reach far beyond our home, or our immediate health. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of being. Change is hard… but it’s worth it. For us, and for all the future inhabitants of our home.