How About Knowing Your Fabric?
Who wouldn't appreciate compliments like "You look fantastic in that outfit." or "This saree looks amazing on you." It does make one feel nice and appreciated. How we carry ourselves, is a reflection of one's personality to the rest of the world.
To no surprise, the fashion industry strikes on this very sentiment. Fashion industry alone is responsible for around 10 percent of carbon emissions and is the world's second-largest user of freshwater.
It doesn't stop there; 85 percent of the clothes they produce end up in landfills.
That's practically a garbage truck full of clothing every second.
By making minor modifications in the choice of fabrics and the frequency of purchase, we, as consumers, can take change the scenario for good. The degrees of environmental impact vary according to the fabric. It's also important to remember that no fabric is completely sustainable. Therefore, less but better, is always the best choice.
Let us look at some of the fabrics and their environmental effects.
Cotton is the most widely used fabric, and you may already have a few cotton garments in your closet. Despite the fact that it is a naturally occurring material, it is an extremely water retentive crop.
Jeans and cotton t-shirts consume around 20,000 litres of water. Eventually, The remaining water also becomes contaminated with chemicals and dyes.
More often than not, the pollution starts from the very beginning. Heavy pesticides are used to pest away from the cotton plants, often resulting in significant air and soil pollution.
Nylon is used in a wide spectrum of clothing, from socks to active-wear. It's one of the most popular and long-lasting fabrics in the market. It's made from crude oil which makes is non-biodegradable. Nylon lasts up to 200 years in a landfills. Several greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, are generated during nylon manufacture. It also consumes a lot of water.
The trick to choose an active wear which is made from recycled plastic and keep using it from years.
You might like polyester because of a number of reasons. Polyester is smooth and silky and used in sports and leisure clothing. Just like nylon, it is not biodegradable.
Because polyester is partially generated from oils, a lot of water is required to cool the energy-intensive process of producing it. This process also expels a lot of toxins, which pollutes water bodies.
While washing, it releases more than 700,000 microplastics can be released per washing cycle. Which is way more than nylon.
Key is again to buy less and maximize the use.
Rayon is often used as a sustainable alternative to fabrics such as cotton and polyester. But are they really sustainable?
Despite the fact that they are created from plant cells, the process of turning them into fabric is hazardous to the environment. Chemicals such as titanium dioxide, hydrochloric acid, carbon sulphate, and others are released throughout the process.This pollutes both the air and the water.
Another issue associated to rayon is deforestation. Several trees are cut to manufacture this fabric.This poses a threat to the environment as well as organisms that rely on trees and forests for survival. Animals such as tigers and orangutans have already become endangered because of fashion industry.
Bamboo can be a very sustainable crop: a fast-growing grass, it requires no fertiliser and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn't need to be replanted. When compared to cotton cultivation, which requires large amounts of water, pesticides, and labour, the advantages are pretty clear.
However, there are a few things you can do to lessen the environmental impact of your materials.
1) Buy less; do not buy clothes which you really don’t need.
2) Shop from sustainable brands; there are many sustainable brands in our country that produce clothes ethically.
3) Buy quality stuff; never compromise on the quality of the cloth so that you can use them over a longer span.
4) Do not throw away. Instead, repair and reuse or donate them or up-cycle them.
Be conscious while purchasing clothing and much more so while wearing it.