Polyester vs. Eucalyptus
This was supposed to be a blog post comparing polyester sheets to eucalyptus sheets but, honestly, there's no comparison because polyester is just the worst.
What is polyester fabric?
It's basically just super soft plastic. For real.
Polyester is a synthetic fabric that's made from petroleum (so definitely NOT biobased certified like S&G).
Ethylene polyester (PET) is the most commonly-produced form of polyester fiber. The primary component of PET is petroleum-derived ethylene. (PET is also the same material used to make water bottles, frozen dinners, and balloons.)
Guess you could say polyester is our PET peeve.
What are the pros of polyester?
It's durable. It's resistant to wrinkling and shrinking. It's incredibly cheap to produce.
What are the cons of polyester?
It depends. How much time do you have?
From production through disposal, polyester has extremely harmful effects on humans, animals, and the environment.
Polyester comes from fossil fuels
Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester around the world, which is now the most commonly used fiber in making clothes (again, because it's so cheap to make).
Refining crude oil into polyester releases toxins into the air and the waterways which can harm all manner of living things, including us.
Polyester is hot and smelly
Because polyester is basically plastic, it isn't breathable or moisture-wicking like eucalyptus - polyester is actually billed as "hydrophobic," aka afraid of water. This is why your polyester sheets trap moisture and therefore heat creating a "sauna effect" while you sleep. We definitely don't recommend them if you sleep hot.
You'll also notice that polyester and poly blends hang on to smells like they're going out of style. Go ahead, smell your polyester workout clothes. This is also due to polyester's hydrophobic qualities. If water can't get in to clean your polyester sheets or clothing, how is it supposed to clean them? Really makes you stink, er, think.
Polyester is here for a long, long time
Polyester takes hundreds of years to decompose – we don't know exactly how long because polyester has only been around for 80 years or so. That means every piece of polyester you've ever owned–sheets, shirts, clown wigs–still exists somewhere on this planet. (S&G Eucalyptus sheets, on the other hand, take about 6 months to completely biodegrade.)
So, even if you have sheets or clothing that is a cotton/poly blend, it will inevitably end up in a landfill, become incinerated, or make its way into the ocean.
Polyester and microplastics
Many recent studies have shown that polyester sheds small pieces of plastic called microplastics with every wash.
Per wash, the average polyester sheet set will shed about 10 million microplastic fibers into our waterways…or over 120 million microplastic fibers per year if you wash your sheets at least once a month (which, you know, we really hope you do).
Microplastics are a macro problem
These microplastics are filling our water and air, and are being ingested by marine life, animals, and even us. A 2017 study found microplastics in 83% of global tap water samples.
In fact, it's estimated that we ingest a credit card's worth of plastic every week. Every week.
Scientists know these microplastics (and nanoplastics, which are even smaller) affect the reproduction, immunity, and survival skills of fish...what they aren't exactly sure of is how they're affecting us. That's pretty scary when you think about it.
Is microfiber better for the environment?
That's a big no.
“Microfiber” is a combination of polyester and nylon fibers that are fused together with heat. While microfiber may only cost a few bucks to manufacture because it’s also made from petrochemicals (i.e., oil), it also comes at a terrible price. (See above terribleness.)
The good news
If everyone who bought S&G’s sustainable eucalyptus lyocell sheets in 2020 had bought polyester sheets instead, about three trillion new microplastic fibers would have been leeched into our waterways.
Or to put it in more positive terms: everyone who purchased S&G sheets last year helped spare 3 trillion microplastic fibers from our waterways. Well done, S&G Community!
If you want to stop drinking plastic, stop sleeping in it – ditch your polyester sheets for sustainably made, USDA BioPreferred Eucalyptus Lyocell from Sheets & Giggles.
"We switched to eucalyptus and never looked back."