What is Elastane? And Is It Sustainable? 

Last Updated on April 23, 2024

Do you learn the tags in your clothes? It’s a good suggestion to get into the behavior of it: Doing this may let you know what supplies your clothes is comprised of, and the place it was made. 

This issues, contemplating most of our clothes is comprised of polyester, aka a type of plastic. Polyester is comprised of non-renewable petroleum (crude oil) that’s extracted from the earth unsustainably.   

Some of the hyperlinks beneath could also be affiliate hyperlinks. For extra info please see my disclosure coverage.   

To create polyester, 70 million barrels of oil are used yearly, and turning this oil into polyester material releases plenty of toxins into the atmosphere.   

However, even should you select extra pure supplies, like natural cotton, chances are high it’s by no means simply 100% cotton. Depending on what clothes merchandise it’s, there’s a very good likelihood it’s mixed with one other material, like elastane.  

For instance, should you’re going to purchase a pleasant pair of natural cotton leggings, there’s a excessive likelihood a small proportion of these leggings may even be made up of elastane.  

This is as a result of elastane is commonly utilized in mixture with different supplies to create stretchy clothes. 

But what’s Elastane? And is it sustainable? Here’s all the pieces you have to know concerning elastane and should you ought to search for this materials or keep away from it in your subsequent buy. 

is elastane synthetic or natural? 

Elastane is an artificial materials that has qualities like that of rubber and is comprised of polymers, particularly polyurethane. This is a type of plastic and was invented to interchange rubber within the Fifties. Rubber was considerably arduous to come back by, and was topic to fluctuating costs, whereas elastane was cheaper to make. 

Because of this, elastane doesn’t biodegrade. That additionally means it’s not compostable. 

Also of observe, elastane goes by a number of names: In the US and Cananda, it goes by the model identify Spandex. You can also see it labeled Lycra. 

how is elastane made? 

1. First, manufacturing of a prepolymer is required. This is achieved by mixing macroglycol with a diisocyanate monomer inside a particular kind of response vessel. 

2. Then when the dry spinning methodology is used, the prepolymer is reacted with diamine acid. 

3. Next the answer is diluted with a solvent to make it thinner, which thusly makes it simpler to deal with. It’s positioned inside a fiber manufacturing cell. 

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4. The cell spins to provide fibers and treatment the elastane. Within this cell, the answer is pushed by a spinneret. 

5. The fibers are then heated inside a nitrogen and solvent fuel resolution. This transforms the liquid polymer into stable strands. 

6. These strands are then bundled collectively as they exit the cylindrical spinning cell utilizing a compressed air gadget.  

7. To deal with the elastane with a ending agent, magesium stearate or one other polymer is used. This prevents the fibers from adhering collectively. 

8. Last however not least, the remaining fibers are spooled after which able to be dyed or woven into material. 

is elastane a very good material? 

Elastane is an efficient material by way of its use to make clothes stretchy and form-fitting. It’s usually present in activewear akin to yoga pants, leggings, and sports activities bras, alongside some other sort of garment that could be used for bodily exercise

Elastane is sort of by no means utilized by itself, however usually blended with different materials, like cotton. This materials is proof against physique oils, perspiration and daylight, which makes it sturdy.  

However, by way of the atmosphere, elastane isn’t probably the most sustainable materials on the market. Elastane is comprised of plastic, which is derived from crude oil, a fossil gasoline contributing to local weather change. 

Manufacturing elastane is energy-intensive and requires using quite a lot of poisonous chemical substances. If these chemical substances will not be disposed of correctly, they may hurt the atmosphere.  

Synthetic dyes are sometimes utilized in elastane manufacturing, and these are recognized to pollute the atmosphere as nicely. These dyes have an effect on not solely aquatic plants and animals, however the water provide people rely upon. 

Additionally, as talked about above, elastane just isn’t biodegradable, nor compostable. At the top of its life, it can not return to the earth like a pure material might, as a result of it’s artificial. 

It’s price noting that artificial materials are likely to shed over time, which produces microplastics.  

Recently, a brand new research discovered we might be ingesting 11,000 microplastics per yr. Microplastics have been present in our lungs, feces, and even our placentas.  

It’s unknown what the well being results of this are but, however polyurethane, elastane’s precursor, is a known carcinogen.  

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The excellent news is that solely a small proportion of elastane is usually utilized in clothes manufacturing. So, for instance, most leggings will probably be principally cotton and maybe 2-7% elastane. 

The finest resolution is to restrict the quantity of clothes you have got that accommodates elastane. Save it on your exercise units, if attainable. And go for clothes that has a smaller proportion of elastane in them should you can. 

what’s the distinction between polyester and elastane? 

The predominant distinction between polyester and elastane is that elastane is used so as to add stretch to a garment. Polyester materials are nearly by no means stretchable, except the garment has added elastane in it.  

That mentioned, each polyester and elastane are artificial supplies not present in nature. They are petroleum-based materials. 

what’s the drawback with elastane? 

The drawback with elastane is each its manufacturing course of and finish of life: They have a big carbon footprint. The materials can not biodegrade and is manufactured unsustainably, utilizing energy-intensive practices and harsh chemical substances. 

Because these clothes objects can not biodegrade, they’ll probably find yourself in a landfill someplace, contributing to air pollution for years to come back. 

There’s additionally the problem it might shed microplastics over time with each use and wash. The well being impacts of this are nonetheless but to be decided.  

Unfortunately, many clothes manufacturers use this materials, together with sustainable ones, so it’s arduous or almost unimaginable to keep away from, particularly in athleisure.  

Here are some options: 

  • Reserve elastane for exercise garments solely 
  • Use what you have already got, as a substitute of shopping for new 
  •   If you could purchase new garments that comprise elastane, select from sustainable manufacturers 
  • Look for smaller percentages of elastane used within the product make-up, if attainable 

sustainable manufacturers that use elastane 

Yes, even sustainable manufacturers use elastane. However, you’ll be able to offset elastane’s environmental impacts by selecting to purchase from manufacturers that mix elastane with extra sustainable supplies, akin to natural cotton. 

For instance, buying a pair of natural cotton leggings that comprise elastane is healthier than ones containing standard cotton. Conventional cotton is a water-intensive crop and closely sprayed with pesticides. 

While each leggings will probably make the most of elastane within the supplies, one has considerably much less of a carbon footprint. 

Not to say the model you’re shopping for it from issues too: Some manufacturers scale back their general impression in different methods, like prioritizing plastic-free packaging, or donating to environmental non-profits. 

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You’ll additionally wish to select garments constructed to final some time, since elastane doesn’t biodegrade. If you’re pondering of shopping for one thing with elastane in it (like leggings), be certain you’ll use them for years to come back.  

Here are some eco-friendly clothes manufacturers that use elastane in a few of their clothes. All of those manufacturers attempt to scale back their environmental footprint by utilizing natural supplies, low waste packaging, and reaching eco certifications. 

I’ve gone forward and highlighted a few of my favourite options of every model, however it isn’t an exhaustive checklist. Be certain to take a look at their web sites for extra info.    

1. organic basics

  • Clothing fundamentals for women and men 
  • Made from natural cotton, Tencel, recycled nylon and LENZING ECOVERO 
  • Manufactured in trusted, licensed factories the place employees are paid a dwelling wage + in a secure working house 
  • 1% For The Planet member 
  • B Corporation 

2. pact

  • Clothing fundamentals, underwear and socks for each males, ladies, youngsters, and infants 
  • Made from natural cotton which makes use of as much as 95% much less water than standard cotton, and doesn’t comprise the cruel chemical substances, bleaches or dyes that standard cotton makes use of 
  • Manufactured in truthful commerce licensed factories which are sweatshop and child-labor-free 
  • Recyclable paper luggage for packaging merchandise 

3. tentree

  • Relaxed clothes for males, ladies, and children together with each clothes and accessories 
  • Utilizes recycled poly, natural cotton, hemp, cork and different sustainable supplies 
  • Manufacturing partners have moral labor rights + secure workplaces 
  • Plant 10 bushes for each buy 

4. girlfriend collective

  • Basics and activewear for ladies 
  • Made from recycled supplies like post-consumer water bottles 
  • Manufactured in factories which are SA8000 and WRAP licensed which guarantees employees are paid a dwelling wage + have secure working situations 
  • Garment recycling program “ReGirlfriend” 
  • Packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable 

5. toad and co

  • Men and girls’s clothes for on a regular basis and outside use  
  • Uses natural cotton, hemp, Tencel and recycled supplies
  • Takeback program for outdated garments (from any model)  
  • Member of The Renewal Workshop, repairs and resells outdated Toad garments  
  • LimeLoop companion, reusable delivery—comprised of recycled billboards  

What do you concentrate on this materials? Will you be shopping for it, or avoiding it? Let me know within the feedback!

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