Environmental Issues in Textiles
Gone are the days of simple, handmade textiles. The world we now know is that of mass quantity made from mass production, a process all too familiar in industries of every kind. And with that, comes environmental issues in textiles.
Our society is built around trends, those of which seem to run in cycles, where white is the new black, red is the new white and so on and so forth. The fashion industry is an endless, ongoing monster that consumes the masses with its cultural relevance, yelling, "Hey! Over here!" until all the kids come running. By the time everyone has caught on, the quickly changing face of the industry has already moved on to the next thing.
This is relevant, because the constant changes of the textile industry that keeps so many people's heads turned with the volume cranked up high creates a constant demand on products. This leads to consistent mass production, and the environmental impact of such relentless, massive quantities is much more drastic now than the days of knitting and handcrafting goods.
The commercial side of textiles has led to many changes in the process in which products are created and distributed, and that is where the changes in its impact on the environment come into play. Whether for tourism, athletics or just an average day, a majority of industries rely on the textile industry in their own personal way. Many companies and brand names are focused around the textile industry, and they rely on its mass production methods for heavy output in order to stay afloat.
The environmental issues in textiles focus mainly around the use of chemicals through many of the various steps of creating textiles, especially in the bleaching and cleaning steps.There are countless chemicals used in the textile industry, with anything from the pretreatment chemicals such as wetting agents to dying formulas such as stain removers and thickeners. Once the products are finished, they go through to a series of softeners and cleaners, as well as specialty treatments. The chemical air pollution alone is enough to raise an eyebrow at. What about the water that is polluted? The environmental issues in textiles are just as relevant with water as air. Textile manufacturers are some of the heaviest water consumers worldwide.
Water is used to clean materials during all stages of the process, from raw to dying to cleaning. That water is then contaminated with the oils, dyes and other treatment chemicals used to create these products. Wastewater is treated and then, a generous quantity is returned to its natural deposit spot.
In order for a reduction in environmental issues in textiles, manufacturers have to be consistent with an environmentally safe practice from the start to finish of their manufacturing process. Although environmental regulations are enforced, there are still many loopholes for this industry in order for them to survive. This, however, does no good for the environment, whose water and air is filled with its filthy remnants.