03 Aug Fashion Industry Gains New Tools to Analyze Its Environmental Impact
While it may seem obvious that the clothing industry contributes to waste generation and carbon emissions every year, tracking specific metrics has proven difficult in the textile industry. Over 100 million tons of clothing is introduced into the market each year, but manufacturers have difficulties measuring their individual contribution and determining how they can reduce their environmental impact. For the first time, a researcher has mapped out the environmental cycle of clothing in detail so the effects of differing phases of the life cycle and various textile types can be adequately compared. This new information will make textile sustainability more attainable than ever.
Sandra Roos composed her doctoral thesis at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the research institute Swerea by studying 30 various sub-processes in the life cycle of textile production. Roos found that the growing of cotton creates one of the largest burdens for the environment of all textile processes. Roos also found that “most environmental indices are based on the type of textile fiber used: wool, nylon, polyester or cotton. But that is not where the major environmental impact is found, which is actually in the post-fiber processing stages: spinning, weaving, knitting and, above all, in the dyeing — the wet processing.”
In regards to consumer trends, Roos stresses that keeping your clothing until it is completely worn out is more important than considering where your clothing was manufactured, or what materials the clothing is made from. Most garments can be worn between 100 and 200 times before you need to discard them, but many consumers purchase more than 50 new garments a year and throw out their “old” clothing. Many other notable takeaways are included in Roos’ thesis, like the fact that choosing eco-label clothing does have a significant impact. To read her full thesis click here.
As a textile company you can target specific phases of the clothing manufacturing process to contribute to increased textile sustainability. You can also reduce your overall environmental impact by donating your excess clothing to Good360. We’ll match up your products with nonprofits that need them so every piece of clothing is used.