Does Your Fleece Impact Our Planet?


August 9, 2023


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is fleece is sustainable

Summer is not over yet, but back-to-school season is just around the corner!
It may be time for you to stock up on warm clothing in anticipation of the colder days ahead, or to renew some of your clothes worn out last season. This is a great opportunity to talk about the favourite material of outdoor enthusiasts: fleece! Inexpensive, easy to wash and dry, ultra-warm, resistant, and breathable, it accompanies us everywhere and in all seasons. But do you know what these must-haves that dress adults and children are made of, and what their real impact on the planet is? We spill the tea!

This article was produced in collaboration with Earth Day Canada

Earth Day Canada

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Fleece Under the Environmental Magnifying Glass
  2. Fleece and the Planet, an Impossible Marriage?

Fleece Under the Environmental Magnifying Glass

Invented in the ‘80s as a synthetic substitute for wool, fleece has long been presented as an ecological alternative, because it is vegan.

Nearly 40 years later, however, the picture is a lot more contrasting.
The cause? A cocktail of chemicals that goes into this cozy material that we love so much.

Let’s Examine Its Composition

Fleece is made of polyester fibres, PET to be precise, the same plastic used to make water bottles and many food containers. The plastic is melted until it stretches into long, flexible, hollow threads, which will allow the formation of air pockets and give the garment its warm properties.

This means fleece is a derivative of oil, a non-renewable resource whose rapid consumption by our societies is, let’s remind ourselves of this, the primary cause of the climate crisis we are experiencing. The transformation of oil into synthetic fibres is energy-intensive and contributes to air and water pollution.

Other Ingredients in the Composition of Fleece

Perfluorinated compounds (PFC) or polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), which you can also find under the acronyms PFO and PFAO are chemical compounds used extensively by the textile industry to add technical properties to clothing. They are sprayed on fleece to render them waterproof and windproof.

Problem: products in the vast PFC/PFAS family are considered eternal pollutants and persist in the environment and living organisms for a very long time. Extremely volatile and persistent, they contaminate soil, air and water and impact all food chains and biodiversity.

This is a very sad outcome for a material that has become the best ally of our excursions in nature.

In response to this problem, many brands have chosen to use recycled polyester, made notably from plastic bottles that end up in our recycling bins. This limits the consumption of crude oil.

Fleece and the Planet, an Impossible Marriage?

Fleece & Planet

After this observation comes a time for action, and there are many ways within your reach to limit the impact of your fleece on the environment! This necessarily involves consuming less and consuming better.

In the textile industry, as in so many other fields, it is the rapid rate at which we consume new things that poses the greatest problem, beyond the individual impact of each purchase. Prioritize quality over quantity and don’t be fooled by short-lived fashion trends that will encourage you to buy more and more clothes or equipment at low prices.

Make a habit of questioning your purchases and the needs you seek to meet. The objective is to dissociate impulse and consumption. You can quickly become very enthusiastic in your favourite store; the idea is to prepare so you can make the best choices.

To reduce your consumption, also favour items that fulfill multiple purposes rather than just one. We can for example think of fleece jackets with removable sleeves or hood, which adapt to all weather conditions, thus removing the necessity to purchase several almost identical pieces of clothing.

And it’s not just with a purchase that you can have an impact, but also throughout the life of your clothes. By adopting a few simple gestures, you can make a big difference!

Start by pampering your equipment by becoming a repair pro or by favouring brands that offer guarantees. While camping, never wash your fleece or other technical/synthetic clothing in rivers or lakes; their fibres release microplastics into the water, polluting and contaminating ecosystems, and natural soap won’t change anything.

At home, you can capture pollutants and microplastics during washing by using filters you install in the drain, GuppyFriend bags or Cora balls. These solutions exist to give the planet a break without too much hassle.


Do you have a small budget or want to take things further? Go second-hand!
Besides, it is at the beginning of its life that the fibre releases the most pollutants, making this gesture an ally of resources and ecosystems.

Finally, make a habit of giving away the unused items lying around in your closets: a simple way to give others the means to explore without putting pressure on our planet!


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