The textile industry and its environmental problems
The textile industry is among the most polluting and the most prominent for its relationship with labor exploitation, being the second most polluting industry.
The textile industry involves a long and complex chain of production and consumption of supplies ranging from raw material extraction, textile manufacturing, dyeing to garment construction.
Normally when we think about pollution we never imagine that the clothes we wear every day are part of this problem.
However, the general impact that this industry has on our planet is of great concern and an issue to be addressed urgently, since thousands of toxic chemical substances are used, it requires a high consumption of water and energy, generates large amounts of waste and spills, and many factories keep employees in miserable conditions.
"The unsustainable mass consumerism induced by fast fashion is another problem that must be faced"
The current concept of fashion is known as “fast-fashion”, which consists of mass production and consumption of clothing in a short time.
All of this is summarized in mostly low-quality clothing, with synthetic materials and a low average useful life.
Large amounts of fossil energy and virgin raw materials are mined to produce garments that are often worn only for a short time, and then the materials are mostly sent to landfills or incinerated.
To take into account: the textile industry uses 97% of its raw materials from virgin sources and only 2% from recycling sources and of the 53 million tons of fiber produced for the industry, 12% is wasted during production of the garments.
The textile fibers used in fashion are mainly cotton, polyester and nylon. These fibers can be natural (cotton) or synthetic (polyester and nylon), but their mass production for the manufacture of garments generates various environmental impacts. Cotton is the third type of crop that requires the most water.
To get an idea, producing a kilogram of cotton requires between 5,000 and 10,000 liters of water, depending on the technique.
It also consumes 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides.
Did you know?
One of the biggest disasters derived from cotton cultivation was the drying up of the Aral Sea, located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
This disaster was produced by the diversion of the channels of the two main rivers that flowed into this “internal sea” to supply the large irrigated crops in the area.
Photo By: Daniel Kreher
On the other hand, synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon are produced by chemical compounds, mainly derived from petroleum.
The impact generated by these fibers is enormous, since being petroleum derivatives, they emit a large amount of greenhouse gases in their production.
In addition, they are non-biodegradable compounds, and washing these garments makes them shed their fibers, generating microplastics that end up reaching the sea.
Slow Fashion is a healthy alternative to conventional fashion
Sustainable fashion is linked to the concept of Fair Trade. By promoting a new approach to the textile business based on respect for the environment and the well-being of societies, it generates, in turn, a new form of moderate, fair, well-paid consumption and a generator of quality products.
This movement defends the concept of sustainable fashion, which is based on clothing with a low environmental impact. To do this, they use natural organic fibers such as cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo, silk or even recycled fibers.
More and more citizens are becoming aware of the need to acquire habits that, multiplied through sustainable networks, have a direct positive impact on the stability of the planet.
That is why we must make more responsible purchases, being advisable to know where it comes from and how the product we are going to buy is produced and, as far as possible, avoid making unnecessary purchases.