Textiles and Eco-friendly products

Textiles could be one of the most un-sustainable products in the world. In their entire lifecycle from growing the raw material or creating it from oil to manufacturing and selling and final disposal they can create a serious problem.

The Worsted Witch provides an excellent overview of “Textiles and Sustainability“.

She says:

Not all textiles are created equal. Some fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, which are petroleum-derived, are downright unsustainable. And although rayon is composed of wood pulp, its production is a polluting bad boy. Even ubiquitous cotton isn’t untouchable…

And continues by quoting from the an/Feb 2006 issue of Natural Home & Garden had this to say:

The textile industry creates a host of pollution problems. Factories discharge dyes and chemicals into waterways, and they release heat, fly ash, formaldehyde, and sulfurous and nitrous compounds into the air, thereby contributing to acid rain. Textile packaging, drums, and toxic chemicals are dumped into landfills. Even the used fabrics themselves are a problem. Many can’t be recycled because of their mixed-fiber content.

In this context, The Mint talks about the recent textile trade fair in Paris, Texworld, (Free Reg.) where organic cottons and fair-trade were the new trends helping companies to cash in.

As consumers wake up to global warming and globalization, ethical issues are gaining ground and spinning more and more hard cash in the competitive world of international textiles.

And textile ground-breaker Tencel, one of the world’s leading companies highlighting health and environmental concerns, said business was growing. “Demand for organic cotton is gaining momentum,” said Ram Srinivasan, general manager, marketing, KG Denim Ltd.

Socota uses clean cotton grown in Cameroon, which is then spun in Madagascar, woven in Madagascar and Mauritius, and turned into garments in Madagascar.

But as buyers worldwide look increasingly to eco-friendly fabrics, the ground-breakers in the field are having to look beyond purely environmental concerns to market their goods. Austrian firm Lenzing, which produces the new-age Tencel fibre made of wood pulp that revolutionized textiles in the 1990s, claimed that the fibre was perfect for people with sensitive skin.

As The Worsted Witch reminds us, “When a textile is labeled “organic,” it generally refers to the fiber itself, as opposed to the textile production process.”

There are benefits at different life-cycle stages of the organic and eco-friendly fabrics trade, both for consumers and producers however, in the larger scale of things it is important to see that organic cotton may travel half way around the world to reach the ethical customer.

Resources:

  • A tutorial from the Charles Sturt University in Australia.
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3 thoughts on “Textiles and Eco-friendly products

  1. It seems vegetable fiber were the main components of the environmentally friendly , like bamboo, organic cotton, jute, ramie, which synetic fiber are not .
    BUt I think recycling the synetic used garment into into fliuds and changing the molecules as well is also a way of
    environmentally friendly methods which reduce the ecological composition rate and change to another type of synthetic fabric as well .

    Any comments ?

  2. i am doing MBA ENVIORNMENTAL MANAGEMENT ,so i learning about environment and how to protect that any jobs releated to environemnt please inform me particular in tamilnadu[ coimbatore].

  3. I work in the commercial field and would love to find a truly organic resource that also meets NFPA 701 test requirements for flame resistance. 6+ year ago, there was word of a possibility of a bamboo alternative, but have heard nothing since.

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