In the perpetual search for cruelty-free, cold-weather suits with a small carbon footprint (livestock-free), it's rare to find really stylish options. Alter's Men Shop has just received these Shades of Grey Suiting suits for $310- tailored, classic and modern in a poly-rayon blend.
The perfect suit? Pick Your Poison:
♣ It's no secret that making Rayon is a polluting process involving lye (NaOH) and and carbon disulfide, unless contained in a closed-loop system like TENCEL ® Lyocell, where 99.5% of the chemicals are contained and recycled again and again in the factory. It's also no secret that Polyester is a petroleum product (PET) - the smae material used to make plastic water bottles. The process itself, in which polymers are synthesized at 270º Fahrenheit, a lot of polluting off-gassing occurs (even when using recycled polyesters). There are less damaging polys like Eco-Intelligent® Polyester, a registered trademark of Victor Innovatex, is a polyester that’s made using a more eco-friendly process, and using more eco-friendly ingredients. This has resulted in a polyester that can be recycled indefinitely, without losing it’s original quality.
♣ A common assumption is that wool, because it's "natural" is a more eco-friendly option for something like suiting. But when we look at the staggering impact that livestock like sheep have on ecosystems and climate change, the fabric itself can not be isolated as a benign product. Until we figure out a way to grow hair without a living, feeling, grazing land-mammal attached to it, the wool comes with the sheep. According to the United Nations: "The world’s sheep population is just over one billion – one for roughly every six people. Nearly half are in Asia and the Near and Middle East. Sheep are the species with the highest number of recorded breeds – contributing 25 percent to the global total for mammals." (source). The impact that livestock (including sheep) has on the environment, from the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization is enormous: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html. In New Zealand, which has approx. 48 million sheep, methane emissions from enteric fermentation, coming mostly from sheep, constitute almost 50% of the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions. (source). Then there is the ethical implications of raising sheep for wool: Live Export & Ultra-Fine Wool production. Thankfully, mulesing - a barbaric practice is being phased out. I hope this provides some clarity in the desire to avoid using any wool for any reason.
♣ The most sustainable option is to purchase a vintage/thrift suit and bring it to a tailor to have it adjusted and modernized to fit you and your style. This may also be the most affordable option.
♣ All things considered, if buying a new suit, I'd still opt for a poly-rayon suit for cold weather (organic cotton just won't cut it for cold climates). But fear not -The Discerning Brute and Brave GentleMan will soon be making our own line of sustainable, warm, and modern tailored suits that are fairly-made, sustainable, and cruelty-free! Stay tuned...