It Matters What You Wear: A Closer Look at the Textile Industry

July 22, 2013

Seems like these days, everyone is conscious about their food choices. Eating healthy is a lifestyle that most people are on board with- at least for the most part. But what about your clothing choices? Have you ever stopped to consider what kind of footprint your jeans are leaving? In efforts to lead healthy, environmentally aware lives, we have overlooked one of the most obvious offenders- textiles.

In fact, the textile industry joins petroleum and non-metallic metals as three of the top five largest contributors to CO2 emissions in the United States. It makes sense really; the textile industry is gigantic and as a result, produces tons of greenhouse gases. Not to mention electricity use and water needed to manufacture the staggering amount of fabric that we consume. Think about fabric for a minute. This includes not only clothing, but also everyday items that we take for granted. The drapes hanging in your living room, the sheets on your bed, even the cover on your kitchen table. Clearly, fabric plays a vital role in our every day lives and the textile choices you make do matter- a lot actually. Isn’t it time that we started to give it a second look?

Synthetic Fibers Versus Natural Fibers

Synthetic fibers are represented by four main types- nylon, polyester, acrylic and polyolefin. These four account for almost all synthetic production and dominate the market. The average energy required to make spun synthetic fiber is much higher than say, hemp or even cotton. In addition to energy use, production of synthetic fibers creates harmful chemicals. For instance, Nylon production emits N2O which depletes layers of the atmosphere necessary for filtering UV radiation.

On the other hand, there are significant benefits to choosing natural fibers. In addition to a decreased carbon footprint, natural fibers can be broken down, which improves soil structure. Synthetics don’t breakdown but instead release chemicals into the landfills where they are deposited, ultimately seeping into the soil. Even incineration produces a wide variety of pollutants.

Organic is Even Better

Taking it a step further, natural organic fiber is an even better choice. There is significantly less energy needed to produce organic fibers and a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gases. Besides, organic fibers support organic farming. Organic farming is simply a better option than traditional farming. Organic eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, conserves water by allowing soil to absorb rainwater more rapidly and ensures sustained biodiversity.

Organic farming systems use an estimated 63% less energy than traditional farms. This is mostly due to the fact that there is a tremendous amount of energy needed to synthesize nitrogen fertilizer. And don’t forget, one ton of fertilizer emits nearly seven tons of CO2 gases.

The next time you are out shopping for new sheets for the bed, or thinking of buying anything fabric, remember this. Synthetics have a large carbon footprint, it’s always a better choice to choose natural fiber and even better to choose organic natural fiber. Goose Organics is a great company that takes pride in ensuring it provides only the best organic cotton on the market. Explore their website for some ideas on how to make organic cotton a part of your regular life.

Textile production releases chemicals that are harmful to both humans and animals. Some of this harmful material simply evaporates. However, some gets released into water and some actually remains on the fabric. The textile industry is the number one polluter of fresh water on the planet. Luckily, there are environmentally friendly production systems and companies like Goose Organic that are bringing a bit of social accountability to the textile industry

Leave a comment