Is Acrylic Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  6 min read
is acrylic vegan and sustainable

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Durability: pros acrylic is resistant to wrinkling, sunlight, oil, chemicals, moths and mildew | cons acrylic is weaker when wet, may shrink badly

Versatility: pros acrylic is colorfast, quick-drying, lightweight, warm, soft, wool-like, good drape, often used in winter wear, such as sweaters and fleece, washable, generally hypoallergenic | cons acrylic builds up static, doesn’t breathe, fuzz and pills easily, not very moisture absorbent

Accessibility: acrylic is extremely common

Acrylic is…

ENVIRONMENT

Fiber source: synthetic, acrylic is a synthetic fiber and manmade

Biodegradable: no, acrylic is not biodegradable, it may take up to 200 years for synthetic textiles such as acrylic to decompose 

Destruction: high, acrylic production is relatively destructive, energy intensive, micro-fibers wash off, non-biodegradable, non-recyclable, toxic chemicals required, acrylic is not easily recycled nor is it readily biodegradable, some acrylic plastics are highly flammable and must be protected from sources of combustion, synthetic materials rely on petrochemical industries, meaning synthetic materials dependent on fossil fuel extraction

Acrylic is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, acrylic production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, acrylic production does not require any animals

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and eco-systems, micro-fibers wash off and contaminate water, toxic for wildlife

Acrylic is…

★★★★★ What you can do about it...Look Inside!

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always be accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers often face exploitation, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Acrylic…

What are acrylic material uses?

Acrylic uses include making clothing, tracksuits, furnishing fabric and carpet.

What is the material abbreviation for acrylic?

PC is the material abbreviation for acrylic.

acrylic is somewhat durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is acrylic durable or delicate? Acrylic is somewhat durable when cared for properly. Acrylic is resistant to wrinkling, sunlight, oil, chemicals, moths and mildew. However, acrylic is weaker when wet and may shrink badly.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness is society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. 

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

acrylic is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Is acrylic eco friendly and sustainable? No, acrylic is unsustainable.

Acrylic is not biodegradable and it may take up to 200 years for such synthetic textiles to decompose. Its production is relatively destructive, energy intensive, micro-fibers wash off, it’s non-recyclable and it involves toxic chemicals.

Acrylic is not easy to recycle nor is it readily biodegradable. Some acrylic plastics are highly flammable. Synthetic materials rely on petrochemical industries, meaning synthetic materials are dependent on fossil fuel extraction .

There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

acrylic is vegan but harmful to ecosystems and wildlife.

vegan-material

Is acrylic vegan? Yes, acrylic is vegan. However, acrylic micro-fibers wash off and contaminate water, toxic for wildlife.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include:

These materials often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. But if the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms there is confinement, disease and animals sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

acrylic may or may not have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is acrylic a material that has laborer issues? At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding acrylic production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Acrylic may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Revolution Fabrics, What is Acrylic Fabric?
Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
EDGE Fast Fact | Non-Biodegradable Clothes Take 20 to 200 Years to Biodegrade
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%
The real cost of your clothes: These are the fabrics with the best and worst environmental impact

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.