Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.
“We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it.”
I type this hello while savoring a joy-inducing oat milk draft latte – the airy, clean coffee fix I had been missing for weeks. It seems the rest of Boston discovered how delightful nitro coffee paired with Oatly tastes and every café was out of the Swedish brilliance for awhile. The oatmilk is back. It’s delicious, and it is the perfect companion for my writing today. Well, aside from the plastic cup it came with. The barista poured up my order before I got my Yeti Tumbler passed over to her, and the irony of writing about sustainability while drinking from a plastic cup is not lost on me.
Contradictions…they are part of this dance. It is impossible to escape them, and so we challenge ourselves to see them, work with them and learn how to do better with each step forward.
Like with all messy bits of life, we have a series of choices about how to deal with our omnipresent contradictions. We can be swallowed up by the guilt they induce (Hi… that’s me). We can ignore them and become indifferent (but please, let’s not). We can constantly justify them (thanks to how amazing are brains are at resolving cognitive dissonance even when it doesn’t serve us well). Or, we can begin to notice our contradictions with curiosity, a touch of humor and maybe even a little grace. A lightness in approach doesn’t excuse us from doing better, but it keeps us from getting paralyzed on the path.
In the spirit of exploring contradiction, I challenge each of us to become curious about our synthetic clothing.
Synthetics (think nylon, polyester and fleece) are popular and useful for their durability, stretching and moisture-wicking capabilities. Our favorite leotards, warm-ups, athletic wear, yoga pants and underwear are all likely to contain synthetic fibers. Traditionally, these synthetics are made with chemicals from coal, plastic and natural gases (yikes), but innovative technologies using recycled water bottles and other waste have enabled earth-friendly iterations that companies like Jai-Dee are embracing with enthusiasm. Today, synthetic textiles can be both high-performing and responsibly produced, making them popular for conscious brands and conscious consumers.
Yet, while synthetic textiles look and function beautifully while on the body, they are proving to be quite harmful while in our washing machines. Washing even a single load of synthetic clothing can release hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers back into our waterways. Microplastics are the tiny, often-invisible fibers that shed from synthetic textiles when washed, and unfortunately, even recycled fabrics will shed these microplastics when cleaned in our convenient, conventional ways.
Jai-Dee Dancewear directly supports the rescue of ocean and landfill waste by using ECONYL® regenerated nylon in our dancewear but our leotards are not exempt from the microplastic issue. When we began the design and development journey for Jai-Dee Dancewear, I saw the contradiction inherent in using a recycled synthetic fabric that helps clean up the ocean but then sheds plastic back into the waterways when washed. I saw the contradiction and got curious about possible solutions.
As Ocean Clean Wash asserts, “The release of plastic microfibers from synthetic clothing problem demands a solution-oriented collaborative effort from industry — including fashion companies and producers of washing machines, detergents, and yarns — to find sustainable long-term solutions to stop the release of microplastic fibers from laundry washing.” For us at Jai-Dee, participating in a solution-oriented collaborative effort means helping to make the issue more visible, sharing the current research with you and pointing to practical solutions that can be immediately implemented by our communities.
One good thing you can do with me to be a part of the solution – buy this for your washing machine. Using a GUPPYFRIEND® laundry bag (sold at cost from Patagonia for less than $30) is a simple, effective way we can collectively take meaningful action against plastic pollution. There are other options that help keep your microfibers out of the water (like the amazing Cora Ball), but for dancewear specifically, I like how the GUPPYFRIEND design provides a full protective layer for garments while in the washing machine. While trapping microfibers for safe disposal, the bag also inherently protects the quality of your clothes and helps your leotards live their longest, best lives – a double win for sustainability.
I suggest washing not only your future Jai-Dee leotards (more updates coming soon on those!) in these laundry bags but ALL your dancewear, activewear and underwear – as well as any other clothes you have with synthetic fibers. The GUPPYFRIEND bag is not going to completely solve the microplastic issue of course, but it is a simple, accessible way that each of us can immediately become part of the solution.
With heart – and no shortage of contradictions,
If you are interested in being part of the solution beyond your own washing machine, take a moment to share this post within your own network of friends and followers. You can also learn more about LANGBRETT, the company behind the bag and their related nonprofit, Stop! Micro Waste, HERE.
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