An acquaintance, knowing my ferocity in advocating for a world of 100% natural (or, at a minimum, biodegradable) fibers—a person with some understanding of how synthetic fibers poison the environment—asked, what would you substitute for those amazing yoga pants, stretchy and sexy, showing off all the contours of the body within them? As in, how will we (of whatever orientation) manage our erotic pleasures of whatever gender body, if that body stops strutting its stuff in clingy, never-sagging cloth? Cloth that shows off asses and thighs, chests and shoulders...you know.
Lycra and spandex, sometimes in tiny percentages (< 5%) give fabric, knits and wovens, its stretch. Before there were lycra and spandex, people depended on fabric construction for stretchiness. Knit cloth—like your t-shirt fabric—has give, expands and rebounds, up to a point. We’ve all had clothing that stretched permanently out of shape, or, like some wool sweaters, shrunk down, closing the open space of the knit as the wool kept interlocking into itself (thanks to hot water), into a a small size and stiffness well beyond what’s wearable.
My friend asked, in your ideal world, will all the yoginis have saggy-butt leggings made of hemp? Oh! Don’t you hear the heavy, sad sigh in this question?
What can we do for my friend and his pleasures? You could argue, you might, that the trace amounts of stretch fibers aren’t *too* harmful. Maybe. I don’t really believe it. The accumulated “trace amounts” of all our human-invented toxins are measurable and problematic.
Beyond trace amounts or high volume synthetics, I’ve tried to buy natural fiber leggings and yoga pants and it’s not easy. Another, richer approach: Let’s talk about the fashion, and what we desire to see and experience. Can we make sexy cloth, that clings gorgeously but isn’t toxic? That we can throw in the shredder to turn it back into raw fiber (yes, this is technically possible though there is as yet no system for it) without melting being a problem (because our trace amounts of lycra and spandex will mess up our machine!).
I advocate for alternative styles, cloth that is soft and sensuous, perhaps translucent, so that the hints of body underneath cloth substitute amazingly for our tight leggings habit. I want this to be, I don’t know how to make it so. I wish everyone understood the damage they do every time they wear their fleece and polyester. If you knew, and you had luscious choices, maybe you’d choose something else?