Promising Strategies in Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Last Updated on 10/12/2020

Promising Strategies in Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Department of Industrial Chemistry (Textile),
Arba Minch University, Ethiopia.



Textile manufacturing industry is the major consumer product manufacturing industry in the world. It is the versatile and wide segment which converts natural and chemical resources cotton, silk, wool, petroleum products into customer products such as apparels and home furnishings and industrial textiles. But the textile conversion from natural resources and wildly entangled with ecological concern such as use of energy usage, releasing of toxic, hazardous and dangerous matters to earth. By considering above problems which is an impact of textiles to environment the concept of reuse, recycle and reduce the use of resources for textile has been thought of into action in the term of sustainable textiles production and consumption of sustainable textiles resources. When the industry follows the above strategies production of new products from fresh natural resources will be totally reduced and economic conditions of the products also will be maintained. Sustainability deals not only the ecological problems, and also includes socio and economic issues. Hence to solve the problems of socio and economical also innovative ideas of production in the industry is needed abundantly. Hence the issues such as consumption of natural energy, water, natural resources such as tree, petroleum products, damaging environment system can be resolved by reuse, recycle and reduce the use of sources.

Keywords: Natural resources, source utilization, safe environment, renewability, biodegradable

1.0 Introduction

The development in the textile and clothing industry has focused on innovative aspects such as making new colour, new material, new design in order to enhance the aesthetic values, surface characteristics. The main motto of enhancing the value of textile product is to get desirable profit out of it. But issues related to this is that the value of textile products are enhanced by damaging the environment, reducing and creating scarcity of natural resources and energy such as water, trees, oil resources etc. Instead of drastically reconsidering the approaches of designing and producing the offering based on customer needs and sustainability, the goods are designed and produced according to regularly evolving trends that make fast profit. Thus, the radical new mentality and change required to save natural resources, energy and make the environmental chain alive in textile and clothing design, manufacturing, industry and consumption.

Sustainable Textiles and clothing

The present system in the textile and clothing industry is based on fast cycles of fashion trends that aim to continuously produce new consumer needs and products. But for saving natural potential and energy as idea should be created in an innovative ways without affecting the requirements and satisfaction of consumers.

The paradigm should be made for producing Eco-textile fabrics, ethical production, and eco-efficiency in the areas of textile manufacturing. The designers mind set should be modified to build the idea of reuse and redesign in designing trendy products. A new sustainable mindset, however, is still waiting to emerge as a whole, as we continue to design and produce textiles and clothing primarily in conventional ways.

The main focus on remodeling of production techniques should be on environmental concerns of consumers in the textile and clothing field. Rather than creating a low quality and low durable apparel, a high quality and more durable apparel also try to give some changes in wastage of natural resources and natural energy such as water and other resources. The short life span of textiles and especially clothing is one of the main problems in the currentindustrial system based on planned obsolescence. This should be rectified by making long life textile products.

2.0 Problem statement and background of the study

The industries main environmental issues originate from the use of electricity and hazardous chemicals. The sector’s contribution to climate change is dominated by the need for burning fossil fuel to generate electricity for heating water and air in laundering. Other major energy uses resurface in providing fuel for farming equipment and electricity for manufacturing.

In cotton farming and in several production phases, such as pre-treatment, dyeing and printing, toxic chemicals are commonly used. With the emergence of quick fashion, waste volumes from the industry are high and rising in the textile and apparel industries.

Social concern has always been a feature of the sector and efforts to improve social conditions are already effective and ongoing for low-paid workers in developing countries.

3.0 Significance

The research included forecasting the environmental, economic and social effects of changes in the system of production, consumer behavior, developments in material and processes and influence of government. The environmental conditions and third party certifications are becoming more and more relevant in sustainable textiles manufacturing, allowing consumers to see who produces the products, how they are being assessed.

Improvement in the sector of the economy sustainability practices is material specific and depends on the material’s energy and toxicity life-cycle profile.

4.0 Strategies followed in in sustainable textiles

For products in which raw material productiondominates, in addition to measures to extendproduct life, alternative processes or materials should be pursued. A switch from conventional toorganic cotton growing would eliminate most toxic releases.

Energy requirements for cotton garments are dominated by washing, drying and ironing. Inresponse, wash temperatures can be reduced and tumble drying can be avoided. Novel treatments may provide resistance to odours so reducing the total number of washes or allow faster drying with less ironing.

The demand for energy for traditional cotton products is driven by washing, but the use of harmful chemicals is driven by agriculture. Energy use for viscose, on the other hand, is dominated by production.

Process efficiencies should be sought for goods in which output dominates the impact, and the impact can be minimized by extending the life of the product or by reusing materials through some form of recycling.

The second-hand industry is growing and there is additional demand, so improved processes for collection and sorting will be beneficial in reducing waste and supplying usable clothing.

For materials with a high impact in the production phase, recycling is important. Technology innovations may provide a means to extract longer fibres from used textiles, although profitability is not being achieved by a recent innovative carpet recycling business.

When influenced by customer preference, reforms in the sector to reduce the environmental effect and promote positive sustainability will occur.

5.0 Role of customer for in sustainable textiles

In order to create change, a consumer would:

  • Buy used clothing and textiles where ever possible.
  • Buy fewer more long-lasting garments and textile products.

When buying the customer should select the new products which were made with least energy and least toxic emissions, made by workers paid a credible living wage with reasonable employment rights and conditions.

Wash clothes less often, at lower temperatures andusing eco-detergents, hang-dry them and the customer should avoid ironing process where ever and whenever possible. Extend the life of clothing and textile products through repair.

Dispose of used clothing and textiles through recycling businesses who would return them for second-hand sale wherever possible, but otherwise extract and recycle the yarn or fibres.

6.0 Opportunities

Brand names may enhance their credibility by enhancing their social and environmental outcomes. Linking business to social and environmental projects helps businesses, by involving them in sustainability initiatives, to create a clear link with consumers.

Technological breakthrough in manufacturing processes along the supply chain, which leads to improving processes’ environmental impact and can save costs, allowing more recycled products to be used, i.e. polyester can be recycled into new clothing at the end of life.

7.0 Threats and barriers

For producers and brands who want to change their production patterns, complex and integrated value chains often with low traceability pose an obstacle.

Socially and environmentally friendly textiles can lead to finished products that are more costly; Some consumers expectations are that sustainable clothing is not trendy or fashionable and that eco-clothing is unfashionable and unattractive in style and appearance.

There could also be insufficient consumer demand and the market needs to be established by producers and retailers who want to encourage more environmentally friendly textiles.

Due to inadequate take-back schemes and the absence of convenient and reputable drop-off locations for discarded clothing / textiles in many countries , the demand for recycled clothing and fibres is still small, resulting in perfectly useable clothing sent to landfill or incinerated.

Low level of awareness of clothing and textile companies and their suppliers on strategic sustainability and lack of resources to update and implement new knowledge and new technologies, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises; there are also several labels on the market that can lead to confusion among customers.

8.0 Limitations of the study

Consumers may not have change of mindset to reuse the materials and the reluctant to accept recycled and reuse of materials. It is quite difficult to get exact numerical data for energy consumption and usage in the industries for manufacturing textiles. Practical difficulties are prevailing in analyzing the environmental issues. Most of Manufactures and consumers are not aware of energy utilization and damage of environment by the process residues.

Numerous natural sustainable fabrics are commercially available and some are used in textile products, but we have selected functional fibers with remarkable properties that fit into any textile product and add value to the company products. These fibers have a wide range of high quality applications.

9.0 The further scope in sustainability in textiles

Consumer education is important to ensure that hard evidence on the specific effects of a product is accessible and understood. A transition towards reduced material flow will promote increased focus on durability as a component of fashion.

Whenever customers pay a higher price for a commodity that lasts twice as long, the sector could break its material flow without economic loss.

Where consumers pay for services, such as repair, novel coatings, other maintenance services, remanufacturing or ‘fashion upgrades’, new business models with profit growth decoupled from increased material flow are possible.

Development of technology will lead to new ways of refreshing clothes without washing, efficient processing of used fabric, new technology for fiber recycling and new detergents for low temperatures.

10.0 Conclusion

Creating a new production technique using lower amounts of water, using organic pesticides, bio insecticides, and bio-fertilizers was an important measure to create sustainable textiles consumer products. Consumer deeds, however, are of equal significance in how they care for and set out clothing and other textile items, such as choosing the required washing temperatures, taking the right measures to substantially prolong the life of clothing and heartening the recycling of clothing after it has reached its end of life. As a result, renewable energy waste will be avoided, natural resources will be avoided, and the environment will be protected from hazardous hazards in textile manufacturing.


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