The fiber industry has not always been dependent on synthetic fibers. Initially, everyone
used natural fibers. Synthetic fibers were not being used widely by common people. But
since the launch of synthetic fibers, no one has come back to natural fiber. Everyone
looks at the bright side instead of looking at both the bright and dark sides. Now the market is all flooded with the synthetic market without knowing what they are and if they
are good. Synthetic fiber is not good for the skin; neither is it good for the environment.
People still choose it over the natural fibers. Why? Because it is less expensive and widely available.
Synthetic fibers are manmade fibers, which means that they were not derived from natural resources. Synthetic fiber is a result of the chemical process done in many steps. They can either be made by organic fibers or half organic half non-organic fibers. Scientists researched and invented these fibers because they wanted to improve the quality of natural fibers. Each synthetic fiber has a different process. Currently, fibers like Nylon, polyester, acrylic, etc. are the ones dominating the market. These fibers can be printed and colored easily. Prints are also long-lasting irrespective of the washes they get
● Synthetic fibers are durable.
● They do not lose their elasticity over time.
● They are more affordable than natural fibers.
● They are available to a greater population.
● Synthetic fibers are not biodegradable. It is not a good food source for fiber eating insects; this is why they last longer.
● Synthetic fibers are water and stain-resistant.
Since these fibers are lab-made, they do not have the qualities of natural fiber.
● They tend to melt easily as synthetic fibers have a low melting temperature.
● Synthetic fibers can get easily damaged by heat.
● These are not biodegradable.
● A large number of chemicals are used in making these fibers.
● Recycling of synthetic fiber is not that common because it is cheaper to make new
fabric rather than newing the old ones.
Some Synthetic Fibers
Acrylic: Acrylic fiber looks and feels similar to wool. This fiber is made in a lab because
it is cheaper to make it rather than get it from sheep. Many people choose it because they
do not like the idea of wearing animal wool. This synthetic fiber might look and feel
good while wearing, but it is harmful to the skin and our environment. Acrylic fiber is
used for making sweaters, shawls, socks, carpet, etc.
Polyester: This fiber is made from coal, water, and petroleum. Many units of esters
chemical are repeated to make this fiber. It feels soft and nice while wearing. It also dries
fast and does not wrinkle. T-shirts, jackets, nets, raincoats, etc. are widely made from this
Nylon: Chemical treatments like sulfuric acid, caustic soda, and formaldehyde are used
in making this fiber. It involves many treatments like softening the fiber and coloring it.
Wearing it can cause diseases such as headaches, dizziness, spinal pain, and skin allergy.
Rubber: Rubber made from natural fibers lose elasticity over time. But synthetic rubber
does not do that. It stays in good condition for a long time. Rubber is used in making
undergarments, swimsuits, elastic bands, etc.
Reyon: Reyon is not 100% synthetic fiber. It is a combination of organic and non-
organic fibers. It is made from the cellulose collected from wood pulp and cotton. Made
in different manners, a fiber can imitate other fibers like cotton and silk.
Spandex: Spandex is almost like elastic but different from it in so many ways. It is
lightweight and can stretch up to 600%. Spandex is mainly used in sports apparel due to
its elasticity and comfort.
These are some of the fibers that are widely used. There are many more fibers that are
being used on a smaller level but doing the same harm to the environment. If we look at
the big picture here, we will realize how big the fabric and clothing industry is. If they are
using that many chemicals to make those fibers, then the amount of chemical waste the
industry is producing would be huge also. To get it into perspective, you should know
that the world’s 10% of pollution is caused by the fabric industry alone.
After clothes made of synthetic fibers wear out, they tend to break down and release
microfibers. These microfibers are washed away with the water we use to wash them, and
they get collected in the ocean. When these bits of plastic fiber reach the ocean, they get
eaten by fishes and plants. From there, these microfibers jump into the human food chain
through caught fishes. This can only be stopped if everyone started using natural fibers. If
we want this to stop, then we need to inform people of the negative impact of synthetic
fiber on the environment.