Raising Awareness: Textile Waste and the Antibacterial Solution
There are no two ways about it: our rampant textile consumption has significantly contributed to the growing environmental crisis. Increased demand has stretched precious water and energy resources thin while simultaneously overflowing landfills with fast-fashion knock-offs, textile waste, and chemical run-offs.
Needless to say, we’re finding ourselves in an increasingly unsustainable predicament. Fortunately, the general public has caught on and is looking to eco-friendly alternatives for a better tomorrow. While the collective consciousness and textile industry have begun to shift, there’s still a long way to go. Here’s how clothing conglomerates and consumer habits have impacted the world, and how sustainable solutions are challenging us all to be more mindful.
Impact of The Textile Waste on the Environment
Modern textile production relies on customers continuously buying cheaply made items. As such, fast fashion lives off the continuous churn of different trends. Though this has been a massively successful business strategy, the consequences are simply too severe to ignore.
Let’s break it down into three different categories: water use, air pollution, and solid waste production.
1. Water Use
Estimates published by the European Parliament indicate it takes 2,700 liters (or about 594 gallons) of fresh water to make one cotton t-shirt. To put that in perspective, that’s enough water to sustain a person for two and a half years—for one t-shirt. Even worse, water usage isn’t the only troubling indicator they noted. Worldwide, 20% of clean water pollution is caused by dyeing and finishing textiles.
2. Air Pollution
The textile production process emits nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic components, aniline vapors, carrier hydrogen sulfide, and chlorine/chlorine dioxide. All of this has resulted in the fashion industry causing a staggering 10% of global carbon emissions.
3. Solid Waste Production
Landfills jammed to the brim with fast fashion pieces aren’t new or surprising, but it isn’t the only place where solid textile waste ends up. The ubiquity of polyester fabric production is one of the more damaging practices in the textile industry. Although we consider polyester to be a fabric, it’s actually a manufactured plastic made from petroleum. Its creation is incredibly energy intensive and sheds microplastics with every wash. In fact, polyester accounts for 35% of all microplastics in the environment.
It goes without saying that neither fast fashion nor the rates of production can continue. The severity of these environmental impacts has even prompted government regulations. For instance, the European Commission is looking to make sustainable products the norm with their new Green Deal.
The Challenge to Make Sustainable Textile Products
The idea of eco-friendly production is popular with younger generations adamant that brands must shift toward sustainable practices. Despite this truth, most customers are unwilling or unable to pay premium prices for such items. So, the question lies in how we can make sustainability feasible.
Due to the sheer scale of production, just a few tweaks to the manufacturing process can significantly reduce textile waste. Changing materials, repurposing fabric, and constraining production to produce longer-lasting items are all a part of the solution. The goal is to shift the industry toward a regenerative, circular economy.
Early adopters of environmentally ethical business models have already proven their viability in the marketplace. For instance, Nordifakt strives to heal the planet and the consumer with our fleet of organic towels and self-cleaning sheets. They’re made with antibacterial fabric, which is sustainably crafted, lasts longer, and requires less washing. And the response has been amazing!
Moreover, both companies and consumers have a role to play in changing the industry. Companies need to change their production models, and customers need to buy responsibly.
Let’s explore potential solutions from the angle of both the industry and the consumer.
Textile Waste: The Challenge for Brands and Manufacturers
Now that we understand the impacts of the textile industry, let’s look at some of the innovative ways companies are reducing their textile waste.
- Waterless Dyeing reduces chemical pollution and energy usage.
- Circular Fashion aims to increase the lifespan of garments by either repurposing materials or reselling the item itself.
- Closed Loop Production creates a circular fashion in the production process by reusing the material waste generated through manufacturing.
- Sustainable Materials, such as those that are biodegradable or naturally grown, can help reduce landfill waste because they eventually erode, unlike polyester.
- Durability increases the life of a product and reduces the number of items consumers need to purchase.
- Promoting Longevity in designs produces products meant to be used for years and reduces trendy impulse purchases.
Here are some companies that have committed to sustainable production and are putting their money where their mouths are:
- Patagonia focuses on extending the lifespan of its garments.
- Ecoalf uses recycled materials.
- Madewell partners with Habitat for Humanity to repurpose donated jeans for housing insulation.
- The North Face’s Clothes the Loop program redistributes donated shoes and clothes.
- Nordifakt designs its antibacterial bedding and sustainable towels to reduce water waste and extend their lifespans.
Textile Waste: The Challenge for Customers
It’s natural to think that the textile industry has all the power, and there is an element of truth to that. As individuals, there’s only so much we can do; however, as a collective, consumers have an incredible amount of influence over the market.
First and foremost, if you want to exert influence and help the greater good, avoid buying fast fashion and look for brands that implement sustainable, ethical practices in their textile production. While the price tag might be a little higher than you’re used to, you’ll ultimately end up with high-quality clothes that will last longer. And when you’re ready to part ways with an item, be sure to donate or recycle it.
Nordifakt: The Antibacterial Solution To Textile Waste
Feeling inspired to change the way you consume textiles? Nordifakt designs its line of sustainably produced towels, bedding, blankets, and bags to save both you and the planet loads of laundry with their antibacterial properties. Relying on ethically-sourced cotton and linen, Nordifakt lives up to the promises we make to our customers. We truly believe that together we can make a big difference.