Why I Choose Natural Fibers.

Bridget McPhillips

If you are like me, most of the direction your life has taken can be explained by circumstances you have encountered. 

As a mom, I welcomed my second son into the world in a very normal way.  In the days that followed his birth, I was quickly overcome with issues that began to present themselves.  Although a relatively easy going baby, he would scream, not just cry, but scream, in such agony, every time I bathed him.  I would end up a crying mess right along with him.  Being a relatively new mom, I just figured he really did not like baths.  As time went on, I started to notice other problems developing with his skin.

My second son was born in 2007.  It was right around this time that tag-less clothes were being introduced in children's clothes.  My poor little guy developed a sore right exactly at the spot on his back where the "tag-less" tag was affixed to all of his clothes.  It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the "tag-less" tag was the cause of the problem.  I have no idea how many other children suffered from this issue, but I came to figure out that the "tag-less" tag was causing a chemical burn on my baby's skin.  He was having a reaction to the materials and chemicals used to create these tags.  I solved the problem for myself, by sewing a piece of cotton fabric into all of his clothes over the "tag-less" tags and the sore healed up and disappeared.  My solution came after spending a lot of time and money visiting doctors and applying creams with no improvement to the problem. 

This discovery lead us, my husband and I, to the thought that maybe the problem with the bath was the soap.  We tried a bunch of different options of soaps for sensitive skin and found one that resulted in a happy bath.  I was the only one crying during the first happy bath, and my tears were tears of joy!  The baby soap we had been using prior to this was actually causing his skin to sting.

So it was established my son had sensitive skin, very sensitive.  We have since struggled with laundry detergent, sun screen, and yes even fabric content of his clothing.  My son will break out into a skin rash if he wears shirts made from most synthetic fibers.  All the very popular athletic apparel, his sports uniforms, all of it causes a reaction on his skin when he wears it, unless we add a layer of cotton in between the synthetics and his skin. Which finally brings me back to Natural Fibers.

There a many fibers out there today that are man made, engineered using plastic, and a few other cellulose fibers, like bamboo.  The cellulose fibers, like bamboo, are broken down and then reconstructed using chemicals and polymers to make the fibers which are then woven into fabrics. 

There are many people who think these synthetic fibers are revolutionary and fabulous, offering superior insulating properties, the convenience of easy care, and freedom from wrinkles and special washing requirements.  Synthetic fibers are often marketed as Eco friendly, because they use recycled materials or renewable resources, like bamboo. 

The question I have about Synthetic fibers is what is in them?  How are they made?   Are they truly good for us and our environment?

There is something in the synthetic fabrics that causes my son great discomfort in the form of itching and horrible skin rashes.  I have spent a great deal of time researching fabrics and what they are made of, to help resolve my son's skin issues.

Natural fibers include linen, cotton, wool and silk.  Natural fibers have fabulous insulating and wicking properties and offer protection from UVA and UVB rays naturally.  Wool, as an example, has natural properties that cause it to be stain resistant, and an unwelcome environment for things like dust mites.  It is true that the natural fibers can require more time and effort to care for properly, but with the natural fibers what you see is what you get.  There are no surprise hidden ingredients.  

Don't get me wrong, innovation is great.  We need new ideas and developments, with purpose.  The reality is that synthetic fibers offer some improvements including the convenience of the reduced effort required to maintain our clothes, but what is the cost we are paying for this convenience? 

I know there is a need for synthetic fabric and fibers.  I use them.  I just do not want synthetic fabric and fibers to be my only choice, and they will not typically be my first choice.  We all have different perspectives and needs and life circumstances that will guide our decisions.  I just truly believe that it is important to be educated about our choices beyond what the marketing world decides we need to know. 

I discovered the importance of Natural Fibers through my son's skin.  I love Natural Fibers simply because of what they are, and I embrace the culture of all the hardworking entrepreneurs out there making, farming, carding, weaving and creating a part of the American story once again. 

Knowledge is power.  Take the time to know what is in the things you choose!


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