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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Sustainable materials for the fashion industry?

The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries of all: it produces microfibres and chemicals and uses huge quantities of water while making 150 billion new articles of clothing every year. The environmental load caused by the fashion industry causes inestimable damage, and the best way to counteract that is to choose clothing made of more sustainable textiles. But where are they?

When we consider sustainable fashion, we must think in terms of complex systems in which social and economic considerations are just as important as the environmental perspective. For instance, choosing a T-shirt made of organic cotton is in vain if its production consumes massive quantity of water and if the garment itself is made using exploitative labour. Very few brands are able to take all three of those considerations into account; they usually focus on only one and disregard the other aspects.

A 2014 publication about sustainable fashion contains recommendations issued by the non-profit organisation MADE-BY, which classifies raw materials into 5 categories based on their environmental impact.

  • Class A
    recycled cotton, recycled nylon, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic linen
  • Class B
    Tencel (by Lenzing), organic cotton, cotton from certified ecological farming
  • Class C
    industrial hemp (artificial fertilisers may be used at the beginning of the growing cycle), nettle cloth, PLA (a biodegradable thermoplastic usually made of plants high in starch)
  • Class D
    newly made polyester, acrylics, modal
  • Class E
    industrial cotton (artificial fertilisers may be used at the beginning of the growing cycle), newly produced nylon, rayon/artificial silk, bamboo viscose, wool, viscose

The publication also notes that currently the most durable garments are made from high quality leather and premium quality wool, but those are unfortunately very expensive and rare products.

The sustainability of fashion is determined by a complex system of social, economic and environmental considerations Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Holy Duck!

Further information: Sustainable fashion: New approaches

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