Textile’s life cycle

Posted by on apr 5, 2010 in Sustainability Mission | 2 comments

Textile’s life cycle

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, as we’ll learn in detail in a post of its own. The Jan/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.

Then there is the human element to consider:

There are health hazards, too. Textile workers may suffer hearing loss from factory noise and develop byssinosis, or “brown lung,” caused by airborne cotton dust. Worker exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, especially formaldehyde, is a serious problem. For consumers, there are toxicity issues surrounding fabrics with formaldehyde (such as permanent press), flame retardants, and stain repellents. Contact dermatitis and allergic reactions to some fibers, dyes, or finishes are common consumer complaints.

To determine a textile’s environmental impact, we have to examine its entire life cycle: its source material, energy and water usage, type of emissions released during production, even the biodegradability of the finished product.

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2 Responses to “Textile’s life cycle”

  1. MonSaicNeonia says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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