Our Stance on Synthetics

Technical Fabrics

You’ve heard of fossil fuels used to fuel our cars and airplanes, but did you know they are used to make the vast majority of plastics into everyday essentials, from packaging to pants?

Some of the most widely used materials in fashion are nylons, polyesters, and polyurethanes. These are all categorized as synthetic fibers because they are human-made materials that come from fossil fuels like petroleum and crude oil. 

While we’ve come a long way, there’s one big problem. The overuse of synthetic materials from fossil fuels has greatly contributed to our planet’s current environmental crisis.

Our Stance on Synthetics

Technical Fabrics

You’ve heard of fossil fuels used to fuel our cars and airplanes, but did you know they are used to make the vast majority of plastics into everyday essentials, from packaging to pants?

Some of the most widely used materials in fashion are nylons, polyesters, and polyurethanes. These are all categorized as synthetic fibers because they are human-made materials that come from fossil fuels like petroleum and crude oil. 

While we’ve come a long way, there’s one big problem. The overuse of synthetic materials from fossil fuels has greatly contributed to our planet’s current environmental crisis.

The source of the problem

Fossil fuels, such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas, are formed below the Earth’s surface over millions of years. The extraction and refining of fossil fuels is energy and chemically intensive and is linked to water poisoning, air and land pollution, smog and—the big one—global warming. Fossil fuels can’t be replenished naturally at the rate at which we consume them. Not only are they considered non-renewable, this also makes our use of them both unsustainable and imbalanced.

Did you know you might be wearing fossil fuels?

Another concern with many of these materials is the associated non-biodegradable microfiber or microplastic pollution. All textiles shed tiny fibres (microfibres) throughout their existence, including during their manufacturing, while you wear and wash them, and when you’ve disposed of them. These microfibres absorb toxins and are a significant cause of water and air pollution. One of the most urgent concerns is that these toxin-filled microfibres have entered global food cycles as they are ingested by marine life.

What happens when you're done with them?

Biodegradation is the biological recycling process where microorganisms break down materials into biologically useful components, including water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Crude oil compounds, like the ones used in synthetic fabrics, are resistant to environmental degradation, and their incomplete breakdown results in persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances which pose big threats to environmental and human health.

The source of the problem

Fossil fuels, such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas, are formed below the Earth’s surface over millions of years. The extraction and refining of fossil fuels is energy and chemically intensive and is linked to water poisoning, air and land pollution, smog and—the big one—global warming. Fossil fuels can’t be replenished naturally at the rate at which we consume them. Not only are they considered non-renewable, this also makes our use of them both unsustainable and imbalanced.

Did you know you might be wearing fossil fuels?

Another concern with many of these materials is the associated non-biodegradable microfiber or microplastic pollution. All textiles shed tiny fibres (microfibres) throughout their existence, including during their manufacturing, while you wear and wash them, and when you’ve disposed of them. These microfibres absorb toxins and are a significant cause of water and air pollution. One of the most urgent concerns is that these toxin-filled microfibres have entered global food cycles as they are ingested by marine life.

What happens when you're done with them?

Biodegradation is the biological recycling process where microorganisms break down materials into biologically useful components, including water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Crude oil compounds, like the ones used in synthetic fabrics, are resistant to environmental degradation, and their incomplete breakdown results in persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances which pose big threats to environmental and human health.

The source of the problem

Fossil fuels, such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas, are formed below the Earth’s surface over millions of years. The extraction and refining of fossil fuels is energy and chemically intensive and is linked to water poisoning, air and land pollution, smog and—the big one—global warming. Fossil fuels can’t be replenished naturally at the rate at which we consume them. Not only are they considered non-renewable, this also makes our use of them both unsustainable and imbalanced.

Did you know you might be wearing fossil fuels?

Another concern with many of these materials is the associated non-biodegradable microfiber or microplastic pollution. All textiles shed tiny fibres (microfibres) throughout their existence, including during their manufacturing, while you wear and wash them, and when you’ve disposed of them. These microfibres absorb toxins and are a significant cause of water and air pollution. One of the most urgent concerns is that these toxin-filled microfibres have entered global food cycles as they are ingested by marine life.

What happens when you're done with them?

Biodegradation is the biological recycling process where microorganisms break down materials into biologically useful components, including water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Crude oil compounds, like the ones used in synthetic fabrics, are resistant to environmental degradation, and their incomplete breakdown results in persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances which pose big threats to environmental and human health.

At PANGAIA we are on a mission to eliminate the fashion industry’s dependence on non-renewable and non-biodegradable textiles, such as synthetic fibers made from fossil fuels.

However, we also acknowledge that synthetic materials offer unique functional properties that are essential for the performance of certain garments, like our Activewear range. These synthetic fibres are what give your favourite jeans or leggings the stretch to fit you just right. They are also known for their durability, extending the lifetime of your favourite adventure jacket.

Our approach

Today, no single material addresses all of our sustainability concerns, while preserving the unique functions that synthetic materials offer.

That’s why we’re working on a solution that ticks all boxes—biobased, biodegradable, recyclable and microfiber-free.

In the meantime, here are the materials we’re working with today. Although they still have shortcomings, they take important steps in the right direction.

What we look out for

The questions we ask before working with synthetic materials.

Is it recycled?
Is it fossil fuel free?
Is it recyclable?
Is it biodegradable?
Will it shed microplastics?

Our approach

Today, no single material addresses all of our sustainability concerns, while preserving the unique functions that synthetic materials offer.

That’s why we’re working on a solution that ticks all boxes—biobased, biodegradable, recyclable and microfiber-free.

In the meantime, here are the materials we’re working with today. Although they still have shortcomings, they take important steps in the right direction.

What we look out for

The questions we ask before working with synthetic materials.

Is it recycled?
Is it fossil fuel free?
Is it recyclable?
Is it biodegradable?
Will it shed microplastics?

Our approach

Today, no single material addresses all of our sustainability concerns, while preserving the unique functions that synthetic materials offer.

That’s why we’re working on a solution that ticks all boxes—biobased, biodegradable, recyclable and microfiber-free.

In the meantime, here are the materials we’re working with today. Although they still have shortcomings, they take important steps in the right direction.

What we look out for

The questions we ask before working with synthetic materials.

Is it recycled?
Is it fossil fuel free?
Is it recyclable?
Is it biodegradable?
Will it shed microplastics?

Synthetic materials we work with

Synthetic materials we work with

Recycled

The problem with recycling

It is important to know that just because an item is made from recycled materials doesn’t mean it is itself recyclable. Only 12% of all materials used for clothing are recycled in the world, (Source) due to many barriers, like technical difficulties in separating blended fabrics and limited collection and sorting capacity.

We have yet to launch a fully circular collection that includes a take back to recycle solution, but we’re working on it. In addition to scouting out emerging recycling innovations, we’re rethinking our design strategies, such as using mono-material fabrics to facilitate future recycling solutions.

Our solution

We’re coming up with solutions to help divert non-biodegradable materials from building up as pollution in landfill or ocean environments by repurposing them into yarns. The recycled materials can either be pre-consumer, by saving manufacturing scraps, or post-consumer, by preventing discarded finished goods (such as fishing nets) from becoming waste.

Recycled Nylon - We use both pre and post-consumer recycled nylon in a range of accessories and ready to wear products. We look for yarns that reach as close to 100% recycled content as possible without compromising quality. Shop our Econyl Accessories.

Recycled Polyester - We use recycled polyester trims, such as zippers, where necessary.

Biobased

The problem with using non-renewable resources

Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that puts pressure on our planet’s finite resources and are associated with pollution that is harmful to life on Earth. This is what motivated us to find a responsible alternative that replaces fossil fuels with a renewable, biobased resource.

Our solution

It is possible to make synthetic materials from biobased sources, such as plants. And since we don’t want to compete with important food supplies, we look for biobased synthetics made from inedible crops or food industry waste. These solutions utilize plant-based raw materials instead of fossil fuels, reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources.

Nylon - We use an innovative, fossil-fuel free fiber made from renewable castor oil, a non-food crop that doesn’t disrupt food supplies. Shop our Activewear collection here.

Next generation - We have partnered with Kintra Fibers to develop a novel biobased synthetic, designed from the molecule up. Read about our partnership here.

Enhanced Degradation

We encourage you to love your PANGAIA items forever, and are prioritising circular solutions that prevent linear waste systems, such as landfill. However, the unfortunate reality is that an estimated 92 million tons of textiles end up in landfill globally every year (a garbage truck full every second). Most synthetics do not biodegrade in landfill conditions, even the recycled or biobased ones. For this reason, we also use solutions that enable the non-ecotoxic biodegradation of otherwise non-biodegradable and polluting synthetic materials.* (Source)

These are not perfect solutions because they are still most often produced with non-renewable, virgin fossil-fuel resources. We’re constantly looking for better responsible alternatives and will continue to champion innovation in this space.

Nylon - We use a specially formulated nylon that biodegrades in only a few years when disposed of in oxygen-poor (anaerobic) environments (such as controlled landfills) as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ASTM D5511 (equivalent to ISO 15985). Shop our FLWRDWN™ Jackets here.

Roica V550 - We use a stretch yarn which can be degraded by microorganisms into non-ecotoxic components, in an oxygen-rich (aerobic) environment (such as industrial compost) more readily than traditional spandex (as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ISO 14855 and ISO 11721). 

The Cradle-to-Cradle certified Gold for Material Health (certificate) means Roica V550 does not emit carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants during consumer use and is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Banned List compliant. Shop our Move collection here.

*Don’t worry - this process doesn’t happen while you wear the garment, these conditions are specific to processes after you have disposed of the garment.

Microplastics

The problem with microplastics

While we can’t totally prevent the microplastic pollution associated with synthetic materials, we do our best to limit our use of synthetics to products where they provide an essential function (for example stretch) or for products that are relatively low wash (for example backpacks).

Our solution

The best solutions to prevent microfibre pollution and its consequences are a work in progress for us. That's why we’ve joined The Microfibre Consortium, to help us navigate this tricky space.

We can’t shed much light on this yet but as soon as we understand more, we can design for end-of-use in the best possible way. Stay tuned and watch this space for the latest updates.

Recycled

The problem with recycling

It is important to know that just because an item is made from recycled materials doesn’t mean it is itself recyclable. Only 12% of all materials used for clothing are recycled in the world, (Source) due to many barriers, like technical difficulties in separating blended fabrics and limited collection and sorting capacity.

We have yet to launch a fully circular collection that includes a take back to recycle solution, but we’re working on it. In addition to scouting out emerging recycling innovations, we’re rethinking our design strategies, such as using mono-material fabrics to facilitate future recycling solutions.

Our solution

We’re coming up with solutions to help divert non-biodegradable materials from building up as pollution in landfill or ocean environments by repurposing them into yarns. The recycled materials can either be pre-consumer, by saving manufacturing scraps, or post-consumer, by preventing discarded finished goods (such as fishing nets) from becoming waste.

Recycled Nylon - We use both pre and post-consumer recycled nylon in a range of accessories and ready to wear products. We look for yarns that reach as close to 100% recycled content as possible without compromising quality. Shop our Econyl Accessories.

Recycled Polyester - We use recycled polyester trims, such as zippers, where necessary.

Biobased

The problem with using non-renewable resources

Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that puts pressure on our planet’s finite resources and are associated with pollution that is harmful to life on Earth. This is what motivated us to find a responsible alternative that replaces fossil fuels with a renewable, biobased resource.

Our solution

It is possible to make synthetic materials from biobased sources, such as plants. And since we don’t want to compete with important food supplies, we look for biobased synthetics made from inedible crops or food industry waste. These solutions utilize plant-based raw materials instead of fossil fuels, reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources.

Nylon - We use an innovative, fossil-fuel free fiber made from renewable castor oil, a non-food crop that doesn’t disrupt food supplies. Shop our Activewear collection here.

Next generation - We have partnered with Kintra Fibers to develop a novel biobased synthetic, designed from the molecule up. Read about our partnership here.

Enhanced Degradation

We encourage you to love your PANGAIA items forever, and are prioritising circular solutions that prevent linear waste systems, such as landfill. However, the unfortunate reality is that an estimated 92 million tons of textiles end up in landfill globally every year (a garbage truck full every second). Most synthetics do not biodegrade in landfill conditions, even the recycled or biobased ones. For this reason, we also use solutions that enable the non-ecotoxic biodegradation of otherwise non-biodegradable and polluting synthetic materials.* (Source)

These are not perfect solutions because they are still most often produced with non-renewable, virgin fossil-fuel resources. We’re constantly looking for better responsible alternatives and will continue to champion innovation in this space.

Nylon - We use a specially formulated nylon that biodegrades in only a few years when disposed of in oxygen-poor (anaerobic) environments (such as controlled landfills) as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ASTM D5511 (equivalent to ISO 15985). Shop our FLWRDWN™ Jackets here.

Roica V550 - We use a stretch yarn which can be degraded by microorganisms into non-ecotoxic components, in an oxygen-rich (aerobic) environment (such as industrial compost) more readily than traditional spandex (as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ISO 14855 and ISO 11721). 

The Cradle-to-Cradle certified Gold for Material Health (certificate) means Roica V550 does not emit carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants during consumer use and is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Banned List compliant. Shop our Move collection here.

*Don’t worry - this process doesn’t happen while you wear the garment, these conditions are specific to processes after you have disposed of the garment.

Microplastics

The problem with microplastics

While we can’t totally prevent the microplastic pollution associated with synthetic materials, we do our best to limit our use of synthetics to products where they provide an essential function (for example stretch) or for products that are relatively low wash (for example backpacks).

Our solution

The best solutions to prevent microfibre pollution and its consequences are a work in progress for us. That's why we’ve joined The Microfibre Consortium, to help us navigate this tricky space.

We can’t shed much light on this yet but as soon as we understand more, we can design for end-of-use in the best possible way. Stay tuned and watch this space for the latest updates.

Recycled

The problem with recycling

It is important to know that just because an item is made from recycled materials doesn’t mean it is itself recyclable. Only 12% of all materials used for clothing are recycled in the world, (Source) due to many barriers, like technical difficulties in separating blended fabrics and limited collection and sorting capacity.

We have yet to launch a fully circular collection that includes a take back to recycle solution, but we’re working on it. In addition to scouting out emerging recycling innovations, we’re rethinking our design strategies, such as using mono-material fabrics to facilitate future recycling solutions.

Our solution

We’re coming up with solutions to help divert non-biodegradable materials from building up as pollution in landfill or ocean environments by repurposing them into yarns. The recycled materials can either be pre-consumer, by saving manufacturing scraps, or post-consumer, by preventing discarded finished goods (such as fishing nets) from becoming waste.

Recycled Nylon - We use both pre and post-consumer recycled nylon in a range of accessories and ready to wear products. We look for yarns that reach as close to 100% recycled content as possible without compromising quality. Shop our Econyl Accessories.

Recycled Polyester - We use recycled polyester trims, such as zippers, where necessary.

Biobased

The problem with using non-renewable resources

Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that puts pressure on our planet’s finite resources and are associated with pollution that is harmful to life on Earth. This is what motivated us to find a responsible alternative that replaces fossil fuels with a renewable, biobased resource.

Our solution

It is possible to make synthetic materials from biobased sources, such as plants. And since we don’t want to compete with important food supplies, we look for biobased synthetics made from inedible crops or food industry waste. These solutions utilize plant-based raw materials instead of fossil fuels, reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources.

Nylon - We use an innovative, fossil-fuel free fiber made from renewable castor oil, a non-food crop that doesn’t disrupt food supplies. Shop our Activewear collection here.

Next generation - We have partnered with Kintra Fibers to develop a novel biobased synthetic, designed from the molecule up. Read about our partnership here.

Enhanced Degradation

We encourage you to love your PANGAIA items forever, and are prioritising circular solutions that prevent linear waste systems, such as landfill. However, the unfortunate reality is that an estimated 92 million tons of textiles end up in landfill globally every year (a garbage truck full every second). Most synthetics do not biodegrade in landfill conditions, even the recycled or biobased ones. For this reason, we also use solutions that enable the non-ecotoxic biodegradation of otherwise non-biodegradable and polluting synthetic materials.* (Source)

These are not perfect solutions because they are still most often produced with non-renewable, virgin fossil-fuel resources. We’re constantly looking for better responsible alternatives and will continue to champion innovation in this space.

Nylon - We use a specially formulated nylon that biodegrades in only a few years when disposed of in oxygen-poor (anaerobic) environments (such as controlled landfills) as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ASTM D5511 (equivalent to ISO 15985). Shop our FLWRDWN™ Jackets here.

Roica V550 - We use a stretch yarn which can be degraded by microorganisms into non-ecotoxic components, in an oxygen-rich (aerobic) environment (such as industrial compost) more readily than traditional spandex (as demonstrated by laboratory tests in accordance with ISO 14855 and ISO 11721). 

The Cradle-to-Cradle certified Gold for Material Health (certificate) means Roica V550 does not emit carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants during consumer use and is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Banned List compliant. Shop our Move collection here.

*Don’t worry - this process doesn’t happen while you wear the garment, these conditions are specific to processes after you have disposed of the garment.

Microplastics

The problem with microplastics

While we can’t totally prevent the microplastic pollution associated with synthetic materials, we do our best to limit our use of synthetics to products where they provide an essential function (for example stretch) or for products that are relatively low wash (for example backpacks).

Our solution

The best solutions to prevent microfibre pollution and its consequences are a work in progress for us. That's why we’ve joined The Microfibre Consortium, to help us navigate this tricky space.

We can’t shed much light on this yet but as soon as we understand more, we can design for end-of-use in the best possible way. Stay tuned and watch this space for the latest updates.

Watch this space

This is just the start. We’re working on more material innovations, impact initiatives and expanding our product range. Check back for our latest updates.

Last Updated : 09.01.2021