Pencil skirts are my jam but many of my clients aren’t fans of skirts- of any kind! When I dug a little more, I found that it wasn’t skirts they didn’t love- they just weren’t sure how to wear them, and usually hated the idea of tucking in a tee or top. Since tucking in is my go-to look, I had fun finding other ways to style them with skirts.
Here are three untucked ways to rock those skirts stuffed in the back of your closet:
In other news, I’m absolutely loving this pastel pink skirt - the color, the fit, and the feel is amazing. It’s super soft and comfy, so I decided to check out the fabric on the care label. I found out that it’s made of rayon, which is sometimes hailed as a more environmentally friendly fabric. Naturally, I wanted to dig in and learn more.
Here’s what I found-
Rayon is made from wood pulp- just hearing that makes it feel more sustainable. But in reality, it’s far from forest friendly. Old trees in forests are often cleared, and subsistence farmers have been displaced to make room for the plantations where this pulp comes from.
And about that pulp- a lot of it actually comes from bamboo. Bamboo is considered sustainable in many ways- it’s easily grown, can help regenerate eroded soil, and requires no irrigation or fertilizers. Of course, like anything else, bamboo has its dark side as well: as growing bamboo has become more and more profitable, farmers are starting to grow it exclusively, which reduces biodiversity, which means pests. There is also evidence that farmers are using chemical fertilizers to accelerate bamboo growth. Plus, natural forestland has been cleared to grow bamboo, impacting pandas’ natural habitats.
Still, while bamboo is up there on the sustainable ladder, rayon is not. To get from bamboo stalks to the silky soft rayon fabric, the stalks go through an intense a chemical process that uses hazardous chemicals like caustic soda, carbon disulfide, sulfuric acid, ammonia, acetone, and more. Carbon disulfide, one of the chemicals used in the process, is known to be a human reproductive hazard. It causes neural disorders, tiredness, headaches, and neural damages. To top it off, about half of the amount of this toxin used in production goes back into the environment. And that’s just one of the multiple chemicals used in this process.
The process used to make rayon is called the viscose rayon process. If that word sounds familiar, that’s because both words- viscose and rayon- are used on care labels. This process generates the chemicals listed above (to start with) which means more emissions into the air, causing high pollution indexes and numerous health problems.
Bamboo is chemically processed because it is much more scalable and cheap than the other way to create fabric from bamboo- mechanically. Instead of using chemicals, bamboo linen is made from crushing woody parts of the bamboo plant and using natural enzymes to break down bamboo walls and turn the natural fibers into yarn. This same process is used to make fabric from flax and hemp. Though this is an ethical, eco-friendly way of producing fabric, most ‘bamboo’ clothing (rayon) out there isn’t made this way.
There are some other man-made fibers that are better options than rayon. Tencel and modal are also made from wood cellulose (or bamboo cellulose), but are made with chemicals known to be less harmful. They also use closed-loop manufacturing, which means 99.5% of chemicals used in the process are recycled to be used again instead of being released into the environment. And if you do see bamboo (or other fabrics) being touted as sustainable by brands, check for a reliable certification like Oeko-Tex, GOTS, and FSC-Certified, so you can feel more confident that what you are buying is truly eco-friendly.
After reading into rayon, I’m realizing that this post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ethical fabrics. Unfortunately, there are issues involved with virtually every fabric and process out there- whether it is the environmental footprint, lack of regulations, or hazardous chemicals used. I’m eager to learn more, but for now, it seems that certified materials, organic cotton, and even more, reusing is our best bet.
I’ve got a few posts cooking about ethical brands using scrap materials and/or revamping vintage clothing! I’m so excited to share these with y’all. I also recently got back into thrifting- an amazing way to decrease your fashion footprint on the Earth- and you’ll see more about that in upcoming posts.
Did you find this post helpful? Are there other materials you’re curious about? Anything you're not on board with? Let me know in the comments below!
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Patagonia - The Footprint Chronicles
The Guardian - The Ethical Wardrobe
Organic Clothing - Bamboo Facts