The term 'Carbon Footprint' has become a topic of hot discussion all over the world. But what is carbon foot print? It can be described as the extent of damage caused to the environment due to some actions. It is the measure of severity of our activities on the environment, especially on the climate change. Many of the activities in our everyday life produce emissions, through the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heating etc. These activities have carbon footprint, producing large amount of greenhouse gases, causing a disastrous effect on the environment.
Greenhouse gases and global warming:
Greenhouse gases are produced by human activities, which result in global warming. Carbon-dioxide is a major gas that accounts for almost 80% of the emissions. Burning of fossil fuels, oil, natural gas, and petrol releases carbon-dioxide. Methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons etc are a few other greenhouse gases originating from industrial processes. These gases accumulate and absorb infrared radiation from the atmosphere, affecting the balance between energy received from the sun and the energy that escapes.
Due to these emissions, there is a rise in the temperature. During the past 100 years, the earth's temperature has risen on an average of 0.74 0.18C. It is estimated that if the current scenario continues, by 2100 global temperature may rise in the range of 1.4- 5.80C. This will result in floods in low coastal areas, unpredictable and extreme weather changes with storms, drought, and sudden wild fires. The ecosystem will be disturbed, and may put some species to extinction. Vital diseases may spread across the globe.
Carbon Footprint of Textile Industries:
Textile industry is chemically intensive. From dyes to transfer agents, around 2000 different varieties of chemicals are used in textile industries. Clothing industry is accountable for 4% of the carbon footprint developed in the world. More than 1 million tones of textile are thrown away each year out of which 50 percent are recyclable. These wastages need a landfill, and they do not decompose quickly. Woolen garments while decomposing generate gases like methane which results in global warming.
Wet treatment of textiles like desizing, prewashing, mercerizing, dyeing, printing etc includes a lot of chemical applications on the fibres or fabric. Desizing of fabrics to remove these chemicals releases large volume of residues in the water. Some fibres need to be bleached with chlorine before dyeing. This causes organo-chlorine compounds to be released, which are very dangerous to the environment. During the process of wet treatment, huge quantity of fossil fuels are consumed, which have carbon content and react with oxygen to form carbon-dioxide. This results in acidification, fossil fuel depletion, and ultimately; global warming.
Creating a Carbon free environment:
Mahatma Gandhi once said "one must care about a world one will not see". It is every one's responsibility to take care of the world, which we leave for the future generations. Minimizing the emissions is vitally important in slowing and even reversing the climate change.