Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose

The textile industry is one of the largest industries in the world.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose

Reducing the use of raw materials, disposable materials and waste sent to landfills. Are you aware of the impact of textile production on the environment? Impacts on water, air, land, and the human body? Or what about the social aspects including child labor and poor hygienic working conditions? Recently consumers demand to raise awareness regarding the environmental friendliness of finished products. More consumers are demanding transparency on the materials used and labor conditions of workers, as well as the environmental impact of production. A now growing concern is also what happens to the materials once the consumer is finished with them, are they reusable, recyclable, environmentally friendly, and/or biodegradable?

Textile processing alone generates many waste streams including liquid gas and solid waste many of which are hazardous the nature of this waste greatly depends on the type of textile facility the processes and technologies being used in the types of fibers and chemicals. Around 2000 chemicals are used in textile processing, many of them known to be harmful to human (and animal) health. Some of these chemicals evaporate while some are dissolved in treatment water which is discharged into our environment.

It’s not new news to hear that the textile industry uses high volumes of water throughout its operations from cotton growing two washing bleaching dyeing and finishing on average it takes approximately 200 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of textiles, unfortunately, we don’t have a system set up to reclaim this wastewater for reuse and it’s released into our environment filled with lots of toxic chemicals used throughout the processing process research has shown that there is it considerably higher levels of toxins including salts, surfactants, iconic metals, toxic organic chemicals, biocides, and toxic ions have been found in the aquatic ecosystems near textile production facilities.

Regeneration. Reclaimed/recycled fibers can be used to make wiping cloths, yarns-untwisted, and re-spun into new yarn variety, mattresses, and wadding/shoddy. Regeneration is another technique in which the fiber is regenerated from a natural source by heat and chemicals. For example, Tencel, Lyocell, and Seacell are some of the popular brands that made textile fibers from wood. The trees are cut, and the wood will be chopped into small particles, which when treated with chemicals and under high temperature and pressure will be passed through a spinneret and made into a filament for textiles. These are used to make fabrics with sustainable properties.

Eco-Processing. Climate concerns and rising consumer awareness have led to an increased interest in the eco-friendly processing of textiles. Throughout the world, new rules and regulations have been set up regarding the importing and exporting of processed textile goods. To meet standards for eco-labeling, textile processors must meet specific eco-limits and eco-parameters. Chemicals prohibited in eco-friendly materials include amines azo dyes, chlorinated phenols, formaldehyde, extractable heavy metals, residual pesticides, allergic dyes, chlorinated benzene, toluene compounds, phthalates, and oregano tin compounds.

Consumer Protection Regulations

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have regulations on textile products. The purpose of these regulations is to protect consumers against dangerous products and false marketing claims. Recently the FTC has issued regulations that manufacturers cannot label regenerated bamboo products as 100% bamboo. The truth is regenerated bamboo fibers are technically rayon, thereby products should be labeled as such. Sadly, manufacturers and brands are inclined to label material bamboo due to the consumer perception that bamboo is a natural, environmentally friendly, green fiber, another term for this is greenwashing.

In the history of the United States (U.S.) and today, the textile manufacturing industry continues to be a major industrial employer, here and around the world. Often it is forgotten that the textile manufacturing industry is not limited to fashion and home goods, it incorporates sectors from agriculture, chemicals, industrial manufacturing, and pioneering research and development. Furthermore, the industry is extremely reliant on economic circumstances, consumer demand, and competition is primarily based on price. With over 8,000 textile establishments in the U.S., no major textile firm has more than a 2 percent share of the market (Parrish, E. D. (2014).