Why I Stopped Making Mermaid and Unicorn Leggings
In The Beginning...
My middle daughter loves sparkly and shiny things. She is like a magpie – always looking at the diamonds in the jewellery shop and playing with my bangles and earrings. When I spotted foiled polyester and nylon spandex, I didn’t think twice. They would make A-MAZ-ING leggings. And I wasn’t wrong. I made her a pair in the Spring of 2016 and she loved them. I added them to my website and Etsy shop and they flew off the shelves. They were my biggest seller.
As the year went on, I began to source more and more ethical and sustainable fabric and I became increasingly aware that nylon and polyester spandex was not compatible with these. Sure, they sparkled and shined. They looked good on my stall and drew attention from shoppers.
But the other fabrics that I love were different. They had a quirky edge with hand drawn designs and bright rainbows sourced from Europe. The ethically printed and GOTS certified organic fabrics just didn’t sit well alongside the bling of the leggings. And so, their sparkly appeal to me began to fade.
Follow Your Heart
I decided it was time to follow my heart. My head said “sell them – they make you the most money”. My heart said “Take them off your website. They aren’t what you want to do”.
On 22 July 2017 I took the unicorn and mermaid leggings and leotards down from my website and deleted the listings from my Etsy shop. There are a handful or pairs left on my craft fair rails – but once they are sold that will be it.
I still get asked to make one last pair and so I wanted to write this post to explain why I decided to stop making them.
The Environmental Impact of Polyester and Nylon
Put simply, I couldn’t keep ignoring the high cost of the fabric any more. Not the actual monetary cost of the spandex but the cost to our planet. To the world around us.
Mermaid and unicorn leggings are made from nylon or polyester mixed with spandex to give them stretch and then a foiled finish is applied to make them sparkle. The more research I did, the more I realised that they aren’t a sustainable fabric. I couldn’t continue to make them when I really wanted to follow my heart and create children’s clothing that would last and be kind to our planet.
Polyester is made from petrochemicals – essentially this is the same stuff as plastic bottles. It requires petroleum (crude oils) which is a non-renewable fossil fuel.
During its manufacturing process, nylon creates nitrous oxide. This is a greenhouse gas far more potent that carbon dioxide.
But the chemicals are not the only things that make nylon and polyester harmful to our environment. Both fabrics require a large amount of water and energy during their manufacturing processes and neither are biodegradable.
I’ve searched high and low for a recycled nylon or polyester spandex that shimmers and shines like the mermaid fabric I used and I just can’t find any. Until I find No automatic alt text available.something that I am happy is less damaging to our planet I will not be making mermaid or unicorn leggings any more.
What Next for Tutti Frutti Clothing?
I will continue to find the best fabrics I can find in all the amazing prints and colours my customers know and love. They will be ethically sourced and sustainably manufactured. They will be kind to our children and to our planet.
I reall do hope that you will all continue to walk with me on this very exciting journey!
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