Is Spandex Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  8 min read

Is spandex vegan and sustainable? These are questions every ethical consumer asks. Here is how buying spandex will impact you, the environment, animals and laborers. 

is spandex vegan and sustainable

Fabric, materials and textiles are things we consume often. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on spandex.

You are going to learn all about spandex’s vegan and sustainability status. Additionally, the following info will include spandex advantages and disadvantages for your home, whether spandex is a natural fiber, biodegradable…or perhaps even destructive!

After learning if spandex is vegan and sustainable you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.

This post is all about learning if spandex is vegan and sustainable.

Is Spandex Vegan And Sustainable?

HOME

Versatility: spandex is extremely stretchy fabric, tight, form-fitting pieces that make moving easier, used in yoga, dance, gymnastics, sports, etc.
Accessibility: spandex is affordable and easy to find

Spandex is…

ENVIRONMENT

Fiber source: synthetic, spandex is a synthetic fiber, made from a polymer containing polyurethane

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

Destruction: n/a

Spandex is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, spandex production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: none, spandex production does not require any animals to be used
Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems

Spandex is…

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 accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, 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

Spandex…

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11/17/2022 02:15 pm GMT

spandex is…

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

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!

spandex may or may not be sustainable.

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

Materials from animals are natural fibers and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife. 

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. 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. 

Natural fibers like cotton are actually really harmful IF they are not organic. How? Cotton seeds are often GMOs that require pesticides, which are extremely toxic! In fact, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides go to non-organic, GMO cotton farming every year. The chemicals degrade soil and pollute water as well as poison cotton pickers.

Wow! …So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.

Read more about ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

spandex is vegan.

vegan-material

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 leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. 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 they are confined, diseased and must sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. But in regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle as they are held down and beaten by workers while sheared or as feathers are ripped from their skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain. 

Buying vegan clothing, accessories and household fabrics, materials and textiles ensures that no living being had to suffer or die needlessly. Vegan fashion is trending like never before! According to Grand View Research, “The global synthetic leather market size is expected to reach $40.0 billion dollars (USD) by the year 2027”!

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

spandex is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

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

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

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. 

This post was all about whether spandex is vegan and sustainable. 

Sources:

Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
Textile School: Textile fabric types
The Spruce: Types of fabric A to Z: What are you wearing?
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%

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer. I organize ethical info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers planet. Use HEALabel to go vegan, live sustainably and optimize your health!

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