2

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Paleo fabrics and dyes?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 12, 2012 at 8:04 PM

So I have decided to avoid contact with artificial fibers as much as possible and am planning to sort my clothes, bed linens, towels, etc soon.

What are the most paleo or healthiest fabrics?

I tend to think cotton, linen, wool, silk, but I don't know how long these have been in our history. I'm afraid of thinking they are OK since they are "natural", only to later find out that they are as paleo as soy... and then having to buy new clothes again!

Also, it would be interesting to know which dyes in clothing are OK, since I've heard that dark colors such as blue, purple, black, brown may be less healthy than others. Any info on that?

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 13, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Yeah, jeans seem to be made mainly from cotton. I'll have to find some organic cotton next. But the dyes in jeans worry me a bit still...

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 13, 2012
at 01:13 PM

Learning to make your own clothing -- sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, etc., is another option. It's possible to get organic fabric by the bolt or yard, and make your own, with hand-drawn patterns, for less than you'd spend for the equivalent item pre-made (provided you're sticking to ethically-sewn/made products). Plus, there's a certain satisfaction in having that finished product to wear.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 13, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Wool is awesome. It breathes, you can wash it, it has a certain richness of texture... And oh, the feel of the really nice lightweight wool made for right against the skin! I'm off to google your sources.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 13, 2012
at 02:49 AM

Or buy used! But used cotton is a little trickier. Might work better for jeans and such...

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 13, 2012
at 02:48 AM

If you don't want to harm the environment, be ready to spring for organic cotton. Conventional cotton is not cool.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on March 12, 2012
at 11:08 PM

Re-enactment would probably call for badly tanned stinky hides in cold climates and a braided string in the tropics.

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 12, 2012
at 10:52 PM

I used to prefer lycra for my underwear because it feels cooler. Cotton seems to cause heat between my legs. But since reading about the dangers of the synthetics (and about skin absorbing it when heated and moist) and wondering how much they can contribute to cancer, I've decided I want to go natural. Besides, I don't want to support anything harmful to the environment.

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on March 12, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Interesting question. I would love to wear exclusively natural fabrics, but I just find working out in synthetic fabrics so much better; I hate working out in cotton when it gets sweaty and heavy...

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 12, 2012
at 09:58 PM

Those are good ideas. :) I guess I didn't use to value my clothes much until now. I will think twice now before I get rid of clothes that I think no longer suit me.

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 12, 2012
at 09:55 PM

Thanks Firestorm, that list is very helpful!

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5 Answers

2
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on March 12, 2012
at 09:38 PM

My tendency is to go with the list above (all natural fibers, but I also add in washable as highly desirable) and then buy used (after the smell test for off gassing) so that most stuff like sizing, leachable dyes etc is gone. Anything that has the slightest odor of chem perfumes from detergent etc gets washed with baking soda and ideally line dried in the sun. I avoid anything that has a dry cleaning smell or has to be dry cleaned. (In my experience, a lot of things that say they need it don't) My main issue is does it breath? Non-organic cotton is grown with HUGE amounts of pesticides so one reason I buy used cotton is to avoid adding to the pesticide load out there.

Of course you also get into the issue of essentially slave labor clothing factories, so buying used, older, American or European made helps alleviate that problem. Slavery isn't paleo!

You can find lots of info on clothing/fashion issues from labor to pesticides to more here: http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/the-issues

Added: If you've got the cash (I rarely do) there are wonderful fair trade clothing places out there with beautiful fabrics etc.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 13, 2012
at 01:13 PM

Learning to make your own clothing -- sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, etc., is another option. It's possible to get organic fabric by the bolt or yard, and make your own, with hand-drawn patterns, for less than you'd spend for the equivalent item pre-made (provided you're sticking to ethically-sewn/made products). Plus, there's a certain satisfaction in having that finished product to wear.

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 12, 2012
at 09:58 PM

Those are good ideas. :) I guess I didn't use to value my clothes much until now. I will think twice now before I get rid of clothes that I think no longer suit me.

2
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 12, 2012
at 08:42 PM

Cotton, linen, wool, silk, leather, hemp, flax, angora, alpaca, cashmere, mohair, rayon (actually a regenerated cellulose (plant) fiber... usually bamboo, to be precise), ramie, jute.

Like everything else, the fabrics that you'll thrive in are n=1 choices. In order of how long we think we know that they've been part of human clothing:

  • leather
  • wool
  • silk/ramie/jute
  • cashmere/angora/alpaca/mohair
  • flax/linen/hemp
  • cotton [then a BIG gap to around 1920s]
  • rayon*

*Technically, rayon is neither completely 'natural' nor completely synthetic. It is a mechanical manipulation of plant fibers to create something that is semi-synthetic, but which retains many of the characteristics of the natural fiber, including breathe-ability, evaporative capacity -- otherwise known as 'wicking', etc. Rather than being a petroleum product, as are most synthetic fabrics, rayon is not reactive for most people, with the exception of those with severe chemical sensitivities. In such cases, these individuals typically react more to the dyes used for rayon fabrics than the plain fabric itself, though natural-colored rayon is a bland, mediocre color somewhere between mud, oatmeal and khaki, which isn't really attractive on anyone, IMO.

D4d83e7981ca572aaaa19fc620bb54f1

(467)

on March 12, 2012
at 09:55 PM

Thanks Firestorm, that list is very helpful!

1
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on March 13, 2012
at 12:49 AM

I LOVE wool! I live in wool almost year-round.

Check out Icebreaker & Ibex for washable merino wool clothing that lasts ages! (I've replaced almost all my cotton clothing with wool.)

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 13, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Wool is awesome. It breathes, you can wash it, it has a certain richness of texture... And oh, the feel of the really nice lightweight wool made for right against the skin! I'm off to google your sources.

1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on March 12, 2012
at 11:04 PM

Make your own! There is hide, grass, bark, cotton, dog hair. Then again, you can do CT and go naked. Dogs come in all kinds of colors, so there is plenty of variety for any occasion.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on March 12, 2012
at 11:08 PM

Re-enactment would probably call for badly tanned stinky hides in cold climates and a braided string in the tropics.

0
672eec05c76d0605ffac0e4a2c9e7f67

on May 21, 2013
at 09:40 PM

Remember that "slave" labor in our culture is a real job that supports a family in another culture. "Fair trade" is NOT FREE TRADE -- it is just another name for gov,'t rules, regulations, mandates, and subsidies.

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