By now you’re probably well aware of the inherent threat to the planet posed by greenhouse gas emissions. One of the largest contributors to the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, and to climate change on the whole, is the production of virgin plastic, and its by-products, including nylon. Which, as you’d know, makes up a huge amount of the clothes on our backs. Great!
If you’re a frequenter of stockings, or even just love the comfort of your active leggings (in and out of the gym, we don’t judge), you’re walking around with more plastic on you than just your reusable water bottle. How much? Let’s find out.
Nylon stockings and other garments are made of nylon fibres, which in essence are strands of plastic yarn. Nylon fibres begin their lives as chips of nylon which are then melted down and drawn through a spinneret. In the fabrication of nylon stockings, the strands are used by themselves, whilst for bigger garments, hundreds and sometimes thousands of strands are woven together, making them thicker and stronger.
The weight and strength of nylon is measured in ‘deniers’ which is where we get the names for different thicknesses of stockings and tights. A 40 denier pair of stockings, for example, would come from a 9km roll of yarn weighing 40 grams in total. On average, however, a pair of stockings will require just 2kms of nylon. That’s still quite a lot! So doing the maths, around 20 grams of plastic exists in those black stockings you’ve got on underneath your favourite LBD.
To put that into context, the average 500 mL single-use water bottle, when empty, weighs around 9.5 grams. So you’ve got one water bottle per leg! Sounds awfully unsustainable, doesn’t it?
The good news is that there are hosiery companies doing their bit to reduce the impact of the industry on the environment, by creating sustainable tights that lessen the need for virgin plastic production. We’re one of them!
Whilst old stockings can’t be immediately recycled into new ones, recycled materials can be used to make them. And recycled stockings can be used to create new plastics. For every 10,000 tonnes of raw material made from reclaimed waste, 70,000 barrels of crude oil is saved, and the equivalent of 57,100 tonnes of Co2 emissions is avoided. Given the hosiery industry creates over 103,000 tonnes of waste per year, coupled with the fact that nylon is infinitely recyclable, if the production of sustainable stockings became 100% circular, we’d see much smaller amounts of waste and emissions reduced.
Companies like Italian manufacturer Fulger, which uses pre-consumer waste to create Q-Nova nylon, are already making strides in stamping out the production of new plastics. We’re proud to use Q-Nova in our Sustainable Shapewear products, as they require less water to produce, and the nylon itself is regenerated mechanically, meaning no chemical materials are used to turn waste into wares.