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Decoding the Label: Natural vs. Synthetic

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Have you checked a clothing label recently? One thing I've learned is that mysterious synthetic fibers have thoroughly invaded clothing options. In fact, it's laborious to find simple basics, whether it's a hat, underwear, t-shirt or sweater, that's made without some portion of man-made fibers. It's understandable given that artificial textiles are skillfully produced and woven to replicate the look and feel of natural fibers.

Can you guess whether these common fabrics are natural or synthetic?

Acrylic - Synthetic.
Bamboo - Natural but usually processed with harsh chemicals. Not recommended because of its effects on the environment and our health.
CashmereNatural, warm, luxurious.
Cotton - Natural, and likely to be the most common natural fabric. Super versatile, breathable, perfect for every season.
Denim - Natural, kind of tricky because this is essentially a form of cotton though most denim is cut with an artificial fiber for stretch.
Elastane - Synthetic.
Fleece - Usually synthetic, though cotton versions are occasionally offered. The cotton version is biodegradable and our preferred option.
Hemp - Natural, an earthy fabric that's durable and sustainable.
Linen - Natural, breathable, lightweight. The perfect summer go-to for shirts and dresses.
Modal - Synthetic.
Nylon - Synthetic.
Polyester - Synthetic.
Rayon - Natural but man-made. Rayon is often treated heavily with chemicals so we don't recommend this fiber for clothing.
Silk - Natural, expensive but offers the benefit of being strong, lightweight and luxurious. Silk helps you stay cool in summer and warm in winter.
Spandex - Synthetic.
Tencel - Natural. The less than natural sounding name led me to take a closer look and I'm happy to say this lightweight fiber is made from fully-biodegradable cellulose found in wood pulp.
Viscose - Synthetic.
Wool - Natural, warm.

Choosing natural fibers is a better choice for your skin and the environment. Skin breathes better with natural fibers on the body. Synthetics are often made with chemicals that have no business being in close contact with our skin. In addition, normal wear and tear breaks down clothing fibers, which can create pollution with every wash. When we choose natural, the lint and threads decompose back into the earth. This isn't the case when we break down artificial fibers. It's no surprise that microplastics in the form of tiny fibers show up in the stomachs of sea creatures even in remote parts of the world and alarmingly, even in the sea salt we use to cook our meals.

The next time you shop, please consider choosing natural and organic materials. Your skin, your wardrobe and our planet deserve better than synthetic. 

Are you a fan of natural fibers? What's your secret to finding quality natural clothes?

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