The things that you don’t know about the textile industry

by Rada Boneva
 The things that you don’t know about the textile industry

One is often judged based on their apperance…and appreciated when he/she has shown an interest into sustainability we’d add. So far we’ve adressed the topics of food waste, environmentally friendly gift giving, pollution on a worldwide scale and it’s finally time for turning the gaze towards our closet as well.

Where shall we start from?

Slogans like  “Who made my clothes?”,movements like #WHITEMONDAYand fashion footprint calculators are no longer a rarity these days. And thank God for that! Because while a lot of us are aiming towards minimalism and challenging ourselves daily to be more creative and still look elegant, the picture on a worldwide scale is still pretty grim.

Are we all equally at fault?

Of course not. In fact, you can actually calculate what is your annual CO2 footprint and how many flights it equals with a special calculator created by ThredUp. It’s called “How dirty is your closet” and it calculates results based on how often one gets clothes, what’s one’s attitude towards clothes and how one treats them. You can check it out HERE and we’d love to hear about your results so please let us know with a comment below ; )

We also recommend the app Good on you, which sometimes serves us as a sustainable & slow fashion guide. We also love the campaign “One tree planted” which is part of the strategy of every environmentally friendly brand’s strategy. It’s about planting a tree in the continents of America, Australia and Africa for each purchased item.

It’s not all moonlight and roses, unfortunately…

A survey done by the Austrian company Lenzig shows that out of the whole textile industry (95,6 billion tons of fabric), 62% are textiles based on petrol (for example polyester) in comparison to only 25% based on celulose and cotton. It probably comes as no surprise that the fabrics which use more energy and chemicals are the synthetic ones.

Do you know how many litres of water are used for the manufacturing of 1 t-shirt?

The shocking number of 19,000 litres!

Behind every t-shirt stands a long process consuming huge resources such as water, energy and chemicals. 200 litres of water are used for obtaining 1 kg of fiber including bleaching, washing, painting and cleaning of the final product. For the cultivation of 1 kg of cotton one uses 20,000 litres of water!

We recently addressed this fact in a Facebook post hoping to entice you to act responsibly and NOT use cotton disposably.

Also, mining has negative consequences for the quality of air we breathe and the water used in the textile industry which is often not filtered after use and dumped into bodies of water. That is a huge problem because chemically treated water contains phthalates, ethers, lead and other harmful chemicals. There are more than 2,000 types of substances used in the process of manufacturing clothes, there are also by-products such as formaldehyde, chlorine and heavy metals.

The fact that textile factories rank second on the list of Top World Ocean pollutants comes speaks volumes about the seriousness of the situation.

Do you read the label when you buy clothes?

Is it important for you whether your clothes have been made of sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, linen,silk or cashmere? We can help but make a comparison with thhe food industry over here.

Would you get a food product without reading its label?

No, right? Don’t do it with clothes either. We value the fabric our clothes have been made of as much as their price, print and brand.Sustainable fabrics have plant or animal origin whereas the chemically-treated ones fall into 2 categories – synthetics and artificials.

Here is a list of some of the more popular fabrics:

  • eco and natural leather, natural and eco suede;
  • cotton – natural; natural origin, celulose; breathable and light. You can read more about how it’s grown and obtained HERE
  • acrylic- synthetic fabric which ressembles wool, maintains warmth well, hard to get moldy
  • denim – contains a lot of cotton BUT some polyester and elastane too sometimes
  • hosiery – polyamide and nylon BUT the so called “french” hosiery contains a lot of cotton + viscose and elastane
  • viscose – synthetic fabric made of celulose, the so-called manmade cellulosics (MMCs)
  • spandex
  • neoprene – synthetic rubber 30%, polyester 40%, viscose 30%
  • velvet
  • silk
  • satin- can be made of cotton but also of polyester
  • polyester –  “polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – the same material used for making plastic bottles

They all have their strong points and weak sides – some are breathable (polyester, viscose), others – waterproof, others hardly get any creases (denim, polyester)

Just to be on the safe side and make sure that we don’t get any rashes and we take care of our planet, we tend to go mainly for natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool, cashmere and silk.

Synthetics have some strong points too such as drying faster, they’re light and don’t need much ironing but are these reasons enough to justify purchases which harm our environment?

As you might have probably figured, today’s article is not only about the resources used when manufacturing and shipping textile but also about the piles of fabric which end up on landfill.

Annually that’s around 90 billion items! This number includes not only clothes but also bedding sheets, carpets, rags and more.

Often when striving to look good we jump into shopping sprees and do not consider the harm we are causing to the environment.

Large quantities of metals such as chromium, manganese, iron, copper, lead have been found in the soil and groundwater near textile factories. Their concentration is much higher than what’s allowed by the World Health Organization. This happens very often in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, where a large percentage of the worldwide garment factories are located.

The fast fashion clothing factories forecast trends for years to come in order to cope up with the quantities they need to make and change collections every few months. Low price goes hand in hand with low quality. There is also the ethical price which the end user fails to pay and as a result, garment workers are paid peanuts.

And speaking of garment workers…

“Sweatshop” is a term used to describe all these places associated with bad labour conditions, low bare minimum payment, dangerous surroundings, child labour…The activist movement against such practices becomes even more prominent after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 which leads to the death of 1,000 people. Bangladesh is the second biggest textile exporter worldwide because of its cheap labour. A curious fact to note here is that “sweatsops” is also a term which can be used to describe not only clothing factories but also factories processing cocoa, coconut and building materials.

But things are really not that bad, we swear : ) Each one of us can help to improve the situation.

What can we do?

  • Do not use cotton for disposable purposes! Instead, appreciate and value this beautiful crop.Irresponsible farming can lead to huge areas of fruithful land being turned into barren wasteland, simply by draining all the water for the production of cotton.One of the worst examples here is the Aral Sea, which was once a vast water reserve between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but dried up and barely had any water left before the neighbouring countries decided to try preserve and restore the remaining puddles in 2014.
  • Fair fashion + Slow fashion > Fast Fashion – Research about where your clothes come from.By purchasing clothes from unsustainable brands you are not making a stand against child labour and unfair working conditions. Fashion Revolution Week is talking about these issues every year, do not close your eyes.
  • Sustainability – This is the point where quantity and quality come together. Here less is more and even if we don’t have a capsule wardrobe, let’s aim to use more natural fabrics which won’t end up on landfill.
  • Back to basics: Go for clothes in basic, natural colours such as black, white, grey – they are easy to combine with other items and never go out of fashion.
  • Natural dyes: Time has come to share that there are plenty of natural colorants such as spinach, artichoke, onion peels, forest fruits, coffee and more.
  • Reduce – Before you make an impulsive purchase, apply the 30 seconds rule and ask yourself:”Am I going to wear this more than 30 times?” You can also apply the rule – 1 in, 1 out which means that every time you get 1 new piece of clothing, you donate 1 of your old ones and that way you don’t end up with a pile of clothes you don’t wear.
  • Reuse, upcycle – Before you put anything damaged in the designated recycling container try to upcycle it. Your old t-shirt can become a great cleaning cloth, your old towel can turn into make-up remover pads, your old table cloth can make decent reusable napkins and more. Check out Pinterest and Instagram for more ideas and inspiration. If you’re good withh the sewing machine you can even make your own laptop case and book cover.
  • Respect: Treat your clothes respectfully and they’ll reciprocate by lasting for a long, long time. Avoid using the dryer and the long spin cycles. Use good quality stain remover soap like our Marseille one when hand-washing clothes or before machine cycle.If you like using detergents, go for natural ones and if you feel adventurous, you can try our eco ball for laundry without detergents.
  • Rent: There is an important meeting, carnaval, prom or anything else coming up? Before you decide to purchase something ask your friends around whether anyone has a pair of shoes or clothes he/she can lend you. Everything from a cocktail mixer to a board game is 1 text message away : )
  • Repair – Another important rule is not to toss away slightly damaged or torn jeans, shirts or bags. If you can’t fix it yourself, look around for a seamstress or shoe repairs nearby.

  • Recycle – It’s needless to say that one shouldn’t toss textile waste in the general bin. There are more and more especially designated recycling containers not only here in Bulgaria but also worldwide. If you have something which is quite worn out and can’t be gifted/donated, put it in the recycling container and it will be used for making cleaning rags and as furniture filing.

More about second-hand use:

  • Second hand, second love: By opting for second hand clothes and furniture you’re not only saving money and giving a second life to items but you’re also saving our planet a lot of resources! You can find so many treasures – sport equipment, books,  furniture, clothes, bags, the list is endless. Pro-tip: Ask your fav second-hand store about when they’re getting a new stock and go on that day or wait for a while & you’ll catch the sales ; )

The web is such a vast resource, use it sustainably to dig out a treasure for yourself or a beloved one.

And do not forget that the best accessory in the world is your smile! There is nothing more attractive than a person who believes in themselves and trends are temporary but your style is timeless and it should go hand in hand with taking care of our home, mother Earth : )

P.S. Because we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU for preserving our environment and we’d like to stimulate you to opt for organic cotton when you can, we have a special OFFER for you! From 22nd February 2020 till 29th February 2020 you can get all of our light colour organic cotton pads with a 10% DISCOUNT

You can check them out HERE