Awareness of textiles definition is important for us to understand its role in sustainability. We know that for a product to become sustainable, it must be environment-friendly. In addition, the manufacturing process shall be harmless to the workers or to the community who lives nearby. The textile industry process is complex, so all stages must undergo proper examination.
Textiles Definition: Performance and Sustainability
In this article:
- Sustainable Textiles Definition
- The Production of Textiles
- Use of Chemicals
- Are There Alternatives to Chemicals?
- The Paradox of Longer-Lived Material vs. Using Fewer Chemicals
Sustainable Textiles Definition
It probably goes without saying that sustainable textiles, whether for clothing or for home goods, shall look good. This is true for all superior and high-quality textiles. Sustainable living takes into consideration the eco-friendly components of a product while making sure to still meet a good quality.
The Production of Textiles
How the raw materials are harvested or extracted is the first part of measuring the sustainability of a product. Are natural fibers like cotton grown organically? Do companies treat the sheep that are shorn for wool ethically? Are the wastes and debris from these ranches removed responsibly? Is reducing water use a priority? Non-natural textiles can also be sustainable. But the extraction methods for the fossil fuels that go into making them must also be as non-invasive as possible.
How they turn raw materials into textiles is another important part of the sustainable textiles definition. Reducing the amount of water used and energy generated during the manufacturing process is an important factor.
Another important consideration is the way textile manufacturing companies discard the goods. How does the textile behave in a landfill or recycling center? Does it break down without harming the soil and groundwater? To be a sustainable fabric, the textile must meet at least one of these considerations.
Use of Chemicals
The presence of chemicals is an extremely important consideration for determining sustainability. Chemicals are normally used for everything from the colors of the textiles to the coating. Responsible manufacturers often limit their chemical use, or they create application processes which minimize the chemical’s impact on the environment, wildlife, plant workers, and the people who live near manufacturing plants.
Are There Alternatives to Chemicals?
Choosing a simple cotton or raw silk clothing, colored with plant-based dyes, is an obvious example of using your purchasing power to support sustainable textiles. But, what about when you really need a stain-resistant couch or flame-retardant children’s clothes? Is there a way to live within the sustainability textile definition while not giving up safety and convenience?
In many cases, the answer is yes! Perfecting some of these practices is still underway. But among the promising new (or newly rediscovered) materials and techniques are:
- Turning to the “old reliables.” Wool never really went out of style, but this natural fiber has downgraded to specific clothing items, and that’s a shame. Wool is both naturally water-repellent and flame-resistant. By making items like parkas and bedding at least partially from wool, textile manufacturers can use fewer chemicals.
- Using unexpected materials to create textiles. The food industry discards tons of raw materials in the creation of goods like orange juice. New industries are finding a way to take the seeds and rinds of fruits and turn them into durable yarn. There is even algae-based fabric developed.
- Introducing microbes. Rather than extracting new fossil fuels from beneath the earth’s surface, polyester manufacturers can use old products, which they subject to polyester-consuming microbes. After the process is complete, they have the raw materials to create new goods.
The Paradox of Longer-Lived Material vs. Using Fewer Chemicals
The more durable a textile is, the less often it’ll need replacement. This basic principle can yield huge savings in terms of the energy and raw materials generated each year. For that reason, durability is an important part of the sustainability textile definition.
Natural ways to make a garment or home good sturdier include bulking up the thread count where appropriate, and not cutting corners with hems and other finishes. Industry experts also note that keeping detailed information on the previous wastes on factory floors can help manufacturers redesign either the textiles themselves or the process by which they’re created.
Unavoidably, sometimes certain finishes take place in order to make a product more durable. It’s not an easy balance to strike. Chemical additives perform important functions. From flame retardants to helping outerwear repel water and retain body heat, yet they negatively impact the environment.
Watch this video by Pumpkin Interactive to know the impact of textile production on the environment:
It can be difficult to practice a sustainable life without giving up the conveniences that keep your family going — especially to free you from the hand-scrubber and sewing machine. Even if you’re a crafter or you make your own clothing, it can be hard to find natural fibers when it comes to goods like yarn and textile fabrics. Consider researching companies known for using sustainable practices. This is probably the simplest way to make eco-friendly choices before making your purchases. In addition, knowing the different factors considered in creating sustainable textiles can help you decide which of these factors is important to you.
Do you think producing textiles are generally sustainable for the environment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.