TEXTILES – ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL CONCERNS
The textile industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. The production of textiles has a huge impact on the environment and contributes to the severe environmental problems we face today. The production of textiles impacts the environment in a number of areas including water usage, chemical waste, pollution. The industry also has a reputation for extremely poor working conditions. Despite mechanised harvesting, the cotton industry is still largely dependent on cheap labour. From wastewater emissions to air pollution and energy consumption, the textile industry weighs heavily on the environment.
Producing textiles on demand and with digital printers will have a important impact in the effort to stop the disastrous development in this area. Calculations show that the usage of resources decrease with 80-90% by using digital printing and producing only when somebody is demanding a product.
Below some facts:
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF PRODUCING TEXTILE FIBRES
Cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world: these pesticides injure and kill many people every year. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 50 deaths each day in the developing world can be attributed to pesticide poisoning. Cotton also takes up a large proportion of agricultural land, much of which is needed by local people to grow their own food. Herbicides, and also the chemical defoliants which are sometimes used to aid mechanical cotton harvesting, add to the toll on both the environment and human health.
Worryingly, chemical residues often remain in the fabric after finishing in final products and can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin leading to allergies, rashes and respiratory problems. The development of genetically modified cotton adds environmental problems at another level, posing a potential risk to wildlife and human health, as well as increasing costs for the farmers. Growing cotton uses 22.5 percent of all the insecticides used globally. Growing enough cotton for one t-shirt requires 257 gallons of water. On top of that, bleaching and then dyeing the fabric creates toxins that flow into our ecosystem.
HOW DOES ELOBINA HELP?
Elobina invests a lot of time and resources towards sourcing organic cottons for print on demand, specifically those carrying the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. The GOTS certification protects not only the environment but everyone involved in the production of the fabric at every stage. Organic fibres are grown without pesticides and by building soil fertility CO2 is locked into the soil helping to reduce the effects of climate change. As well as avoiding the direct toxic effect of pesticides on farmers and workers, farmers avoid the burden of pesticide debt which is held responsible for thousands of suicides. Off the fields, the GOTS standard ensures that the chemicals used in processing the fibres meet strict requirements on toxicity and biodegradability. The standard also protects workers covering wages, working hours, child labour and more.
Production of cotton is off course important, but over half of the textiles produced in the world are based on oil. What is known as synthetic fibres such as acrylic, polyester, nylon, polyamide. There is a sharp connection to the usage of fossil raw material and the waste of carbon dioxide.
Elobina is also constantly sourcing for the most viable synthetic fabrics, using recycled fibres and following the newest development, such as milk and wood based fabrics.
Digital Printing and Production Demand
As opposed to traditional screen printing, digitally printing onto textiles involves almost no waste water, saving 95% water consumption. It is also estimated that digital printing saves 30% of the electricity costs. Screen printing of fabric isn’t cost effective unless huge runs are produced, with the inevitable consequence that much of it goes to waste.
Savings on stock with the ability to print on demand in small quantities is a great advantage, for example to the fashion industry and especially for small designer collections requiring high quality printing on unique fabrics. Elobina produces nothing until it is ordered, so nothing goes to waste. Elobina does all its sewing locally with studios in Malmö and Lund, Sweden and Rolvenden, United Kingdom. Bringing jobs with fair pay into our local economies is central to our strategy for growth.
Elobina wants to start a textile revolution, and environmental and social concerns are at the heart of that revolution.
There a a lot of papers wrote about this. Many studies have been done. We encourage all to search for facts here. What is clear is that the environment needs badly a change toward more smarter ways to produce textiles!
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