Sustainability is the ability to maintain anything at a certain standard rate or level in terms of business, economic, environmental, and social. Mainly sustainability depends on 3 things people, the planet, and profits. The easy definition of sustainability is meeting the requirement of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Given the size of the textile sector, it is one of the biggest in the world. Sustainability is not just an essential idea; businesses also have the potential to make a significant impact in terms of the environment, economy, and society. In the textiles sector, sustainability measures may have ecological, social, as well as economic consequences. This article is going to discuss the Sustainability issue in the textile and clothing industry.
Why Sustainability is it an important term in textiles?
Sustainability in textiles must be environmentally friendly and meet reasonable conditions to protect social and environmental quality by installing pollution prevention or pollution control technology. Although it is not mandatory for any textile manufacturing industry, it is a voluntary process.
The clothing industry is the world’s largest freshwater-polluting industry. In some cases, waste, water, and groundwater emit high chemicals (largely undefined), which drastically change the pH value and temperature.
Issues of Sustainability in textile production:
- Use of toxic and harmful chemicals
- Excess water consumption
- Excess energy consumption
- Excessive waste production
- Extra-heavy transport
- Use of additional packing materials
1. Use of toxic and harmful chemicals
It is very tough to ensure all of the chemicals used in the textile and apparel industry are environmentally friendly. The main disadvantage is that a huge amount of coloring materials is used in the dyeing and printing section of textiles.
Volatile chemicals cause the most complex problems, and the reason is they can evaporate easily in the air or absorb through food and skin. Some of these carcinogenic chemicals can easily harm babies before birth. They can also cause allergic reactions in humans.
2. Excess water consumption
After agriculture, textile is the second-highest consumer and polluting industry of pure water. An essential aspect of the textile & clothing industry is the textile service sector. Plenty of water is required for the manufacturing, finishing, marketing, and distribution of textile products.
A huge amount of water is used in different stages of the textile dyeing process. For example, in a common dyeing and finishing operation, one ton of fabric can contaminate up to about 200 tons of freshwater with harmful chemicals. This process consumes a lot of energy for the system of steam and hot water.
Some common causes of water wastage in textiles are discussed below:
- Washing operations require relatively large amounts of water.
- Old, broken, and defective equipment requires a lot of water.
- A large quantity of water is wasted to cool the water.
- To turn the machine in the opposite direction and to turn it off needs a huge amount of water.
- Inadequate washing equipment also wastes a lot of water.
- Pure water is required at every step to make textile products.
- Dyeing washes require the most water.
So, we can say that if we continue to waste water on textiles like this, then one day, we will face a water crisis. This will endanger our lives. So, we have to take action now to save the environment. The use of water in the clothing industry must be sustainable. For this, we have to do research and find out which places will use less water. In this way, we can make our product manufacturing sustainable by using less water in those places.
3. Excess energy consumption
The clothing industry is a major energy-intensive industry with low energy efficiency. About 23% of this energy is used for weaving, 34% for spinning, 38% for chemical processing, and 5% for various reasons. Energy thermal is predominant in the process of chemical, while electrical energy is predominant in spinning and weaving. Thermal energy in textile mills is mainly used for heating water.
4. Excessive waste production
Like all other industries, the textile industry produces all kinds of waste, commonly known as textile waste. These are liquid items, solid substances, and gas elements. For the recycling process, we need to recycle our textile waste. If it cannot be recycled, composting is required. We can collect many useful materials from the waste of these textile processes if we want.
5. Extra heavy transport
Typically, the textile unit has a large area, and a lot of labor is required across this huge area. So now modern textile units are made in remote places to keep them away from big cities. Countries in the developed world usually buy their products from low-paid countries.
In that case, long-distance transportation is required to transport manufactured goods to consumers in developed countries. Thus, the use of non-renewable fuels increases the overall cost. In this case, we have to change the direction of product supply. We can give the direction from which the supply will be less distant.
6. Use of additional packing materials
Textile products have to go through a long and well-organized process to prepare for transportation, distribution, storage, warehousing, logistics, retailer, and product end-use, and this process is called packaging. And non-biodegradable materials are mostly used for packaging these textile products. And non-biodegradable materials are regularly used for packaging these textile products.
Among these non-biodegradable materials are plastics, wrappers made of various metals, aluminum, etc., which can never be eco-friendly. In this case, we can use cotton, flax, paper, and various biodegradable materials. Then there will be no adverse and harmful or dangerous effects on our environment.