In 2020, "Unprecedented" has a whole new meaning. With swarms of locusts migrating to India, earthquakes, and cyclones causing mass destruction, all in the middle of a time when we are combating a global pandemic, last year has been very eventful. All that we do has an effect on our surroundings, maybe far greater than we can notice. Therefore, for the greater good of our planet, it is the need of the hour for us to make conscious modifications in our lifestyle today so that we can experience a greener tomorrow.
And we can begin with what we wear! A complex, energy-intensive method is the textile supply chain, comprising many industrial processes that cause enormous water, land and water pollution consumption due to excessive use of fertilizers and greenhouse gas emissions. As a consequence, the clothes we wear have a lasting environmental effect.
The antidote is to take charge of sustainable solutions and actively pursue them. Fret not, it is not rocket science to embrace a sustainable lifestyle!
Sustainability is on the shopping radar of everyone these days, but to consciously choose eco-friendly fabrics, it is first of all necessary to consider the different types of fibers used in the manufacture of clothing.
- Natural Fibres: Natural fibres, in basic terms, derive from an animal, plant, or mineral source. These include, among others, cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool, jute. Besides being beneficial for your body to wear natural fabrics, its environmental effect is enormous.
- Organic Fibres: Organic fibres produced from crops grown in a controlled setting and harvested without the use of harmful or synthetic chemicals are a more sustainable option, thus significantly alleviating the burden of pollution.
- Synthetic Fibres: Fibers manufactured by mankind are those synthetically produced from petroleum (petrochemicals), natural gas, or coal that are processed to resemble natural fibers. In the fashion industry, synthetic fabrics widely used include polyester, spandex, and nylon. Many of these, resulting in long-term land contamination, are difficult to decompose and recycle.
- Regenerated Cellulose Fibres: A third group of natural and synthetic fibres, namely rayon, viscose, and modal, are known as regenerated fibres. Although these fabrics are still man-made, they are produced from natural sources, such as renewable raw materials based on plants. Chemically dissolved and reconstructed as fibres are wood pulp or cellulose. Viscose and rayon production utilizes much less water and energy than non-organic cotton or synthetic fabrics.
- Biodegradable Fibres: Those that decompose back into the cycle of nature are biodegradable fibres. By definition, unless they have been subjected to rigorous chemical treatment and processing, all natural fibres are biodegradable (e.g., dying). In home and industrial environments, natural-based viscose and rayon fibres are also biodegradable and compostable.
- Recycled Fibres: Recycled fibers are those that are absolutely broken down from used textiles to produce a new fabric; their processing involves a considerably low consumption of energy. Up to 95% of textiles that are landfilled each year could be recycled, meaning that recycled fabrics have tremendous potential and promise for fashion's future.
- Reclaimed Fibres: Reclaimed fibres are manufactured from cuttings of discarded fabrics or textiles which cannot be used in their original form. Using a zero-waste manufacturing process, these fabrics are made, making them popular among eco-conscious consumers.Sy