A collection of materials from Spiber Inc., manufactured through fermentation of plant-based ingredients.
Credit: Spiber Inc.

As research and production of next-gen synthetic fibers takes off in search of alternatives to polyester, some natural fiber producers worry they’ll be left in the hamper. 

Polyester was once thought to be a wonder fiber. Both durable and efficient, with no need for farmland or vast amounts of water, it threatened to leave natural fibers like cotton in the dust.

It turns out the miracle thread made from oil isn’t so recyclable. But it does break down, bit by bit: in the wash, on land, everywhere. Textiles are a major source of microplastics in the ocean, where they weave their way into the food chain, causing untold harms to marine life. Entire ecosystems are being altered by our clothes. 

Studies tell us we eat and drink its flecks, too, with unknown health impacts, and that the volume of plastic particles in the ocean is doubling about every six years. 

Our daily clothing choices are part of it all, but with polyester, rayon and acrylic so ubiquitous 

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