The existence of human beings on earth is the result of a fortuitous set of circumstances in which conditions for development of the species were present so that evolution could take place allowing us to reach our present state of being. Our tenuous continuation could be jeopardized at any time by changes in these conditions, and this far-reaching effect could result from shifts which might be totally insignificant by cosmic standards. They could bring about, for example, our inability to breathe, or stay warm or cool enough, or grow the food we need. Thus, we are only able to survive because our planet provides all the sustenance we need without major effort on our part. We can broadly define this set of conditions to which we are exposed as our environment. One of the minor ways by which we reduce the risk of premature extinction is to guard our bodies from excessive temperature fluctuation by the use of textiles. Textiles are also used to make life more comfortable or convenient for us. Without them, we would find life harsher, and probably not survive with the same life expectancy as we do now.
Textiles are manufactured to perform a wide range of functions and are made up of different types of fibres mixed in varying proportions. In general, applications of fibers belong to the following three broad categories: apparel, home furnishing, and industrial. Most of the fiber products are for short term (e.g. disposables) to medium term (e.g. apparel, carpet, automotive interior) use, lasting up to a few years in their service life. While the textile industry has a long history of being thrifty with its resources, a large proportion of unnecessary waste is still produced each year. Commercially, textile waste generation is influenced by the production of textile goods, higher the production, the greater the amount of waste. This is in turn a function of consumer demand, which is influenced by the state of the economy. While this may have a limited impact on the waste production in the manufacturing sector, it can have a much greater influence on the production of household textile waste. Consumers react to changes in fashion both in clothing and household interior designs. Seasonal changes in fashion mean that clothes can become outdated very quickly, and this encourages the replacement and disposal of outdated, yet good quality garments. Consequently, manufacturers will increasingly develop high quantities of low durability clothing in response to a 'throwaway society'. Economic prosperity also influences this trend, as the production of textiles increases with consumer spending, so does waste production from both the manufacturing and household sectors.
The author is Third Year student of Apparel Production Management from Government College of Engineering & Textile Technology, Serampore, West Bengal