Saturday, 5 July 2014

Natural versus Synthetic! #sustainable #natural #climate

As I live in the tropics I espouse the virtue of natural fibre every day. I love its coolness, the fact that it breathes and its absorbancy. Even though our temperatures are in the low to mid thirties (Celsius) and the humidity sits around 60-80% and our average summer minimum is about 27˚C I do not particularly like airconditioning. I never use it in my house as I love the windows open, the outside coming in and I also like to know what is going on outside. I guess I was born a sticky beak. Sleeping in aircon dries me out and gives me a headache. I will never understand why people choose to live in the tropics, spend all day complaining how hot it is and go to bed in long winter PJ’s, tucked under a huge doona. The tropics are hot, always have been, always will be. I love the hot weather!

The secret to living in the tropics and probably any climate is the use of natural fibre. It not only keeps you cool, it also keeps you warm, all the time allowing your skin to breathe and your body temperature to regulate itself in the way it is supposed to. So again, natural fibres are the rule of the day. Wearing synthetic fibre does not allow our body temperature regulation mechanism to work properly and is especially dangerous to little babies and toddlers. Sleeping under synthetic doonas  means that they  sweat profusely through their head even on a relatively cool night as their body cannot regulate their core temperature in the way it is meant to. They can sleep under a cotton or woollen blanket or doona which is equally as warm or warmer and never encounter the same problem. I wonder how many parents who are unfortunate enough to have littlies prone to febrile convulsions know this. Simply changing their bedding  may not prevent febrile convulsions  totally as they usually occur when the child is running a temperature, but helping the bodies regulation system to work may just help a little. 

I cannot wear synthetic fibre even in winter, which is a bit of a bummer at times, because it would be so much cheaper if I could simply dash into a shop and grab some of the gorgeous, fun, non-crushable clothes on sale. This sounds weird but wearing synthetic fabrics not only makes me feel unbearably hot but makes me unbearably irritable as well. Even these new wicking fabrics that have hit the market as cool, breathable fabrics simply do nothing for me but make me hot. I know they do not need ironing, come in the funkiest of colours, snazziest of styles. Sorry, for me nothing beats natural, be it cotton, silk, bamboo or linen for summer and of course wool for winter.  I somehow cannot equate wool with summer. These fabrics drape beautifully, wash like rags, do not attract dirt like synthetics and to me the epitome of comfort is a cotton garment washed to that gorgeous softness that comes from constant wearing. They are loved items of clothing that have seen you through endless summers, still holding their shape, not stinking of sweat (an odour that is near on impossible to get rid of in synthetics).

The naturally occurring polymers that make natural fibres are responsible for their properties, their non-static nature, their wicking properties, their absorbancy. It means they do not cling to you as much as their fibres do not allow the build up of static as synthetic fibres do. It also means the dirt does not become embedded in the fibre and your clothes not turn that horrible dirty grey colour in the wash. How many white synthetic shirts do you see and think how dirty they look! It is because they actually attract the dirt in the wash!!!!!! It is probably the same for those horrible molecules that cause underarm odour. They are almost impossible to remove from microfiber shirts which is quite ironic as they make you sweat more in the first place. Have you ever ironed these synthetic shirts?? Eeeeuw!

The same goes for our furnishings. Our synthetic lounges attract the dirt more, make us sweat more. Oh yes they may look a million dollars and save us endless hours of ironing to make the curtains look half reasonable but they fill our houses with negative ions , the carpets zap us when we walk on them in winter and heaven knows what chemicals have been used in their manufacture. All of the synthetics in our houses today mean that when our houses burn down we are more likely to die from toxic smoke inhalation than actual fire as many of these synthetic substances simply melt and smoulder rather than burn in the traditional manner we associate with fire. 

I know the growing of cotton is not that crash hot for the environment as it requires huge amounts of water and is very prone to pests, but with the advent of bamboo, hemp and countless other naturally occurring fibres becoming more common place there really is no reason to fill our lives with synthetics. Yes they are cheap! But at what cost??? Most are derived from the petrochemical industry which is a non-renewable source. The products are almost indestructible never breaking down, and the by-products from their manufacture cause massive pollution problems to all the Earth’s elements of atmosphere, water bodies and land mass.

So have a look at where you can make these changes in your life. You will not only be helping the environment you may find you really like the coolness against your cheek of that well worn pillow slip. You may like the breeze whispering through your clothes to evaporate the beads of sweat that form as you go about your daily routine. Best of all though, you will not feel as though you are wearing a plastic bag that you simply cannot wait to get off.

Cotton Australia

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