What's Happening: Textile Industry
Ever wonder where your clothes came from, how they were made or who made them? I'm sure at some point you've been a little curious, but have you ever considered the environmental impact of the textile industry? I never really gave it much thought until I looked into the production process. What I found was clothing is one of the fastest growing industries and makes up for 2% of global GDP (sustainability.uq.edu.au), it's also one of the biggest polluters in the world. The fashion industry has really pushed this negative trend. It's called fast fashion, whatever the newest current look is will soon be copied and produced by thousands of manufacturers to capitalize off of. This leads to vast amounts of waste created by countries like the US, UK, and AU as last year's look is thrown out and replaced by the newest one. The materials used in these garments are typically synthetic, polyester, nylon, acrylic, all of which are non-biodegradable; they can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade. Considering the fashion industry is a quickly growing market segment, it's imperative to find a more ecofriendly and sustainable solution for the textile industry.
Thankfully, there are organizations and companies taking a step in the right direction. Guilford of Maine is a prime example of a textile producer making the necessary changes. Launched in 2019, their Clean Impact Textiles technology, made from 100% recycled post-consumer polyester, can biodegrade in under 4 years, on par with natural fiber decay. They have a second innovation Ocean Waste Clean Impact Textiles which also uses 100% recycled post-consumer polyester, marine litter sourced from Seaqual Initiative. Considering how much waste is already out there and how it could last thousands of years, it seems logical to recycle versus creating even more waste.
Many of the manufacturing processes like energy consumption, water usage, chemical usage create a significant amount of pollution. Burning coal to run factories creates a tremendous amount of air pollution which can cause respiratory complications and heart disease. Fortunately, NRDC is an organization who seeks to clean up the supply chain by working with prominent retailers and brands. Their experts study textile mills globally, pinpointing ways to reduce pollution and also save money. NRDC has worked with nearly 200 textile mills and continues to partner with other organizations, like Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Sustainable Apparel Coalition represents 30% of global clothing manufacturers, they too are dedicated to reducing environmental impact and cleaning up the supply chain.
Like me, I hoped you learned a little more about the textile industry and how it has a major impact on our planet.