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5 Reasons why we think plastic is the future of fashion

August 28, 2020 0 Comments

5 Reasons why we think plastic is the future of fashion

Is plastic the future of fashion?

Here at Burnt Soul, we think plastic is fantastic... not what you expect? We're always on the lookout for more sustainable options when it comes to our fabrics, but it's not just the what but the how, who and where. To explain more we've compiled five reasons why we think (recycled) plastic rules the roost.

  1. Making Lycra from recycled waste material 'closes the loop' on using virgin yarns
  2. Recycled Lycra uses way less water to produce
  3. We can buy smaller amounts and reduce waste
  4. Fair work = Fair wages
  5. Smaller carbon footprint

Before we dive deeper into these points, let's give you a little background info on the eco-fabrics we currently use.

We make loads of our activewear and party wear from our recycled Lycra, just lookout for the ♻️ symbol at the end of each of our eco products to spot them.

Mens Menswear Leggings Meggings Festival Lycra Eco Eco-Lycra Print Printed UV

Life Lycra

There are two types of recycled Lycra we use in the making of our clothes. You have Nylon Lycra (or Econyl) which is made from recycled fishing nets and carpet fluff, and Polyester Lycra (R-PET) which is made from from post industrial and post consumer waste materials such as bottles and films.

The nylon Lycra is stretchier but only available in plain colours as its not suitable for printing on (see our BFF leggings) and the polyester Lycra offers durability and firmness along with great colour transfer as it can withstand higher temperatures. No water is used in the printing process either and all the inks are water based rather than solvent so top marks for the polyester Life base.

78% of Life Lycra is made from the recycled yarn with the remaining 22% being the Lycra to give it some much needed lunge power!

Econyl, the company responsible for producing the recycled nylon yarn, describes the new fabric as 'a product that can help you close the loop.' (see infographic below) They are massive advocates that the future is circular, and what better material to use than plastic that is already in circulation - making a truly sustainable solution that can be recycled again and again. No greenwashing!

FABRIC BENIFITS: Ultra Chlorine Resistant, Sun Cream and Oil Resistant, Muscle Control, Shape Retention, Excellent UV Protection, Excellent Coverage

“We need to start seeing waste not as waste but as a commodity of production. It is the whole thing about creating a circular system,” - Marianne Guldbrandsen, Head of Design Strategy at the UK’s Design Council

Techno Lycra


Our new eco Techno Fabric is also made from 78% recycled polyester materials but there's a BIG difference... The Techno offers a softer, stretchier (measuring 4 on our stretch-o-meter) print base with more of a cotton feel making it the perfect fit for all our yogi's, hoop spinners and dance floor shape throwers we have out there.

The new base is slightly more expensive but we think it's worth it to offer you something you can wear time and time again and never fail to make you feel fab.

The Techno is offered as custom and now some of our stock pieces as well - just check out the product descriptions for info!

Rebecca wears the new Crazy Camo catsuit at the Palm Temple installation by Luke Jerram in Bristol.

1. Making Lycra from recycled waste material 'closes the loop' on using virgin yarns

The first reason we think plastic is fantastic is a no brainer... We'd rather offer clothing made from fabric that uses predominately waste materials over using new fibres any day of the week.


8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean every year, on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate in marine environments. If we keep this pace, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.


Re-using plastic waste to make into our stretchy contouring pieces prevents the un-biodegradable material going into landfill. It's no secret that our landfills are already full and (literally) burying our problems isn't going to solve them! The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that the country’s landfills received 26 million tons of plastic in 2015 alone. The EU estimates the same amount to be generated yearly by its members. It's becoming more common to burn materials that no longer fit in our landfills and so by re-using this plastic waste, we are preventing both these harmful practices.

R-PET (Recycled Polyester) fabric has a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton. Furthermore, compared with other synthetic fibres, R-PET fabric has almost a 90% lower carbon footprint than virgin nylon, and 75% lower than virgin polyester! - waste2wear

Allowing us to bring you all the best yoga, fitness, dance, hooping and festival-wear attire whilst making use of utter rubbish... it's the real-life example of 'one mans trash is another man's treasure'!

Check out the process below:

Video from Econyl

2. Recycled Lycra uses way less water to produce


"R-PET uses 86% less water than virgin polyester"

Another huge benefit of using recycled Nylon and Polyester yarns over natural fibres, is the water usage (or lack of it) needed to product them.

Did you know it takes 3250 litres of water to produce the cotton needed for one t-shirt? That is almost three years’ worth of drinking water! - WWF. Not to mention the water then used to dye the fabrics which, in many cases, leads to run off, thereby polluting nearby water sources. - waste2wear

R-PET uses 86% less water than virgin polyester to make and uses zerowater in the printing process.

The life cycle of a t-shirt - Angel Chang

3. We can buy smaller amounts and reduce waste


By using our Life and Techno Lycra from our independent UK supplier, Friedmans, we can order much smaller batches of our fave fabrics with a quicker turn around times. The price of the fabric is more expensive but we don't have to buy in huge quantities which reduces the risk of wasted fabric and means we can offer a wider variety of the prints you guys love.

For example, here are four of our brand new prints designed exclusively by our designer Robyn and printed on small amounts of Life Lycra and Techno Lycra. These are currently available on all of our custom products (catsuits, bodysuits, leggings and shorts) and then made to order - giving you unlimited options for your ultimate Catsuit. All the custom orders take up to 10 working days to make with the option to fast track if you need to.

We really do make green clothing... in every colour of the rainbow!

Crazy Camo Catsuit & Diva Bodysuit available through our customise page.

4. Fair work = Fair wages


"Child slave labour in the cotton and fast fashion industry is even more abhorrent, with an estimated 170 million children engaged in child labour, that's 11% of the global population of children" - International labour organisation


One of the biggest and most pressing reasons we choose to use recycled plastic as our eco option is that we have a better understanding of where it comes from, who's involved and how ethically its made. Our Life and Techno Lycra is designed and printed in the UK and then all of our sculpting swim, leisure, party and activewear is made either in our studio in Bristol or by our two lovely ladies in Exeter. We can trace our eco fabrics from the factories in Italy all the way to our cutting table to be made into your fave pair of leggings, more of which you can check out in our Sustainability Ethos.

Modern slavery is still very much apparent throughout the Fashion Industry, specifically in the cotton farming industry. Child slave labour in the cotton and fast fashion industry is even more abhorrent, with an estimated 170 million children engaged in child labour, that's 11% of the global population of children according to the International Labour Organisation.

Because of the complex supply chain of cotton and the sourcing of all new materials, it's extremely difficult to understand how, where and who makes the fabrics that fashion companies are using.

Recently, people of the fashion industry and further have become aware of the horrendous conditions and treatment that goes on in China's forced labour in cotton production. The so-called 're-education' in prison camps of over 1 million people including those from impoverished backgrounds and relatives of convicts is modern-day slavery at its worst and they are subject to the worst conditions possible. Human rights coalition says cotton produced in camps in Xinjiang region finds its way into one in five cotton products worldwide - The Guardian

This forced labour equates to 80% of China's cotton production and China is the world 2nd largest producer of cotton, meaning the clothes in your wardrobe are more than likely to come from these inhumane facilities, you can read more on this here:

UK urged to stop cotton imports made in Chinese 'prison camps' - Reuters

UK government urged to ban import of Chinese cotton ‘made using Uighur Muslim forced labour' - Independent

In this undated video footage run by China’s CCTV, Muslim trainees work in a garment factory at the Hotan Vocational Education and Training Centre in Hotan, Xinjiang. Photograph: AP Video

5. Smaller carbon footprint


'Only 16% of the 87 biggest fashion brands publish a full list of the factories where their clothes are sewn' - Ethical Fashion Guide


Have you ever thought about how many countries the fabric of your clothes have been to before they are even sewn? The likely hood is quite a few. Read more in this recent article 'Has this dress been to more countries than you?' by the BBC.

With Econyl for example, the fishing nets are collected in the Aegean Sea by divers from Healthy Seas. From there they are taken to the Econyl factories in neighbouring Italy where they are processed into the recycled yarn and shipped to our supplier in the UK. As we make everything either here in Bristol or Exeter, once in the UK - thats where it stays.

The cons


"Activewear is a tricky one, as it is almost always made of synthetic, plastic-shedding fabrics, and is usually the type of clothing that needs the most washing! We are still hanging out for fabric innovations here, but until then, consider buying recycled plastic versions to reduce some impact, and washing in a Guppy bag." - What to do about Microfibres


The one draw back, and it's a biggy... MICROPLASTICS!!

For this we suggest a couple of things, firstly wash only when you need and ditch the tumble dryer! It's better for the planet and our sparkly, sassy catsuits if you air-dry all your Lycra goodies and wash them as little as possible. Spot cleaning before going all in can reduce you washes and your electricity bill too!

Next, using a genius washing bag to catch the microplastics is also a huge help, we suggest the Guppy Bag, which reduces fibre shedding, protects your clothing and catches the microfibres that do get loose!

We hope these points have converted you that plastic is as fantastic as we believe... well, recycled plastic that is!

Other ways we can help


We know we need to go further in our efforts to tackle the growing issue of plastic in our seas. This is why we're proud supports of Surfers Against Sewage.

This September, from the 5th to the 18th of October, they are launching their campaign for "The Generation Sea: Plastic Protest" which will see communities take part in six grassroots action designed to challenge the manufactures of unnecessary, single-use plastics, change public perception and demand stronger legislation from the Government.

Within this time we will also be arranging a river clean in Bristol so drop us a message if you want further details or keep an eye on our social posts to find out more!

For further info on our eco pledge, check out our Sustainability Ethos 💕

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