"A sustainable textile industry is achievable, but it requires a complete change in how we treat our fabrics."
As discussed earlier, the textile industry is one of the most polluting sectors, but since the signing of the Covenant Sustainable Clothing and Textile in 2016, more and more brands seem to be concerned with a future-proof textile industry. Already a great trend, which should be continued by all of us (as consumers)! How can you do this yourself at home? Where to start? You can read it in this article!
A brief re-cap of the damage done by the current textile industry
One hundred billion new garments are produced every year. More than half of all clothing is thrown away within a year of production and a large proportion ends up in incinerators or landfills. The textile industry is – after the oil industry – the most polluting sector. The production of clothing and shoes together provide such 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions , of which clothing accounts for 4 until 6.8 percent takes charge of her. By comparison, global aviation is responsible for about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
It is not only greenhouse gas emissions that are a problem. The industry has more abuses: there is a lot of water pollution due to the coloring of textiles and extreme drought is also a result of the enormous water consumption for the growth of crops such as cotton. In addition, working conditions in low-wage countries are often poor, because workers are exploited and human rights are not guaranteed.
Extend the life of clothes!
Take care of the clothing and textile items you already own!
You can help tackle the polluting fast-fashion industry yourself! Even if you start small, by throwing away clothes or furniture less quickly. How do you extend the life of textiles:
1). Less washing and drying
The washing machine is one of the most energy-consuming appliances in the house. According to Milieu Centraal, the energy consumption of the washing machine is about 4 percent of the total consumption in the home. The energy emitted by the device has the greatest impact on the climate. Electricity consumption produces greenhouse gases, so washing contributes to climate change. It is therefore not very environmentally conscious to wash a lot, but it is also not good for the lifespan of your garments. Textile fibers are quickly affected and damaged by frequent washing.
Not only does the climate become happy when you work more responsibly, it also makes your clothes happy. It benefits the quality of your clothing so that your items stay beautiful longer and you therefore have to buy less new clothing. We throw away 70 percent of our clothes because the color has worn off or because it has shrunk/stretched during washing. Which is often the result of wrong washing habits that we have learned. A shame, because that can easily be done differently!
For example, we often wash on one unnecessarily high temperature , while the temperature of the laundry has the greatest impact on energy consumption. The first step to a more sustainable laundry is therefore the temperature knob down.
Also often unnecessary amount of detergent used. Two aspects that you can easily do something about and that are of great value for both your clothing and the environment!
Tip: Use sustainable detergents, only wash when the drum is full
Use durable, sheep's wool Wadryer bulbs during drying. These significantly shorten the drying time and make garments extra soft and less creased in the dryer.
2). Avoid ironing
You really cannot avoid using an iron with some textiles, but be aware that the heat and force you exert on the fabric with your iron 'squashes' and damages the fibers of your fabric. With every ironing, the life of your fabric is shortened somewhat.
Tip: try using a steamer or clothes steamer. The hot steam easily removes wrinkles from many fabrics, without affecting the fibres. This makes burn marks impossible and the fibers of the fabric are also 'lifted' and 'filled up' by the hot steam. This way a garment looks very new and fresh again.
3). Use tools to smooth fabrics
Fluff, balls or (pet) hair can make a piece of clothing look incredibly unkempt. Make sure you have some tools at home to remove fluff/hair from clothing, such as a fluff brush/clothing brush or an electric depilator. With such tools you can easily breathe new life into an old/haunted piece of clothing.
4). Do you still want to get rid of clothes?
Don't throw away your clothes! But give them to charity, or hand them in at vintage shops. Buy clothing that is of such quality that it can have a 'second' life and you can also make someone else very happy with it.
"Our tablecloths, towels, but especially trousers and T-shirts have the greatest environmental and climate impact after food, transport and housing".
If clothes last longer, fewer new clothes will be produced, bought and thrown away, the European Commission argues. Figures show: if we wear a piece of clothing from our closet twice as long before we throw it away, it saves 44 percent of greenhouse gases, compared to if we buy/put on something new instead.
Extending the life of clothing by an additional nine months can reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint by 20 to 30 percent.
In our ideal dream world, every piece of clothing should be provided with information about its expected lifespan and clothes should meet quality requirements. Currently, EU rules state that the expected life of a t-shirt is 52 washes. Assuming a T-shirt is washed once a week, it would therefore be expected to last a year.
Pay attention to what quality clothing you buy. The ideal image of a high-quality fabric or garment:
- must be made of thicker quality (because otherwise it will deform or tear too quickly);
- the 'colour fastness' must be optimal, so that the color does not fade too quickly;
- the zipper must be of high quality;
- the seams are just finished;
- labels and texts must be properly stitched;
- easier to reuse repair, upgrade and recycle.
The hope of the European Commission is that this will counter the clothing industry's focus on low costs, rapidly changing fashion trends and a continuous flow of new clothes. That would mean the death sentence for popular fast-fashion chains such as PRIMARK and SHEIN etc. that put more than six hundred new items on its website every day for extremely low prices.