The textile industry has been condemned as being one of the world's worst offenders in terms of pollution. Traditionally produced fabrics contain residuals of chemicals used during their Manufacture - chemicals that evaporate into the air we breathe or are absorbed through our skin. Some of the chemicals are carcinogenic or may cause harm to children even before birth while others may trigger allergic reactions in some people. Cotton is the second-most damaging agricultural crop in the world; 25 percent of all Pesticides used globally are put on cotton crops. Majority of the cotton is irrigated and the combination of chemical application (through pesticides and fertilizers) with irrigation is a direct conduit for toxic chemicals to circulate in groundwater worldwide. There are two main types of fibers used to make materials - natural and synthetic.
Natural fibers include:
And a variety of other plant or animal based fibers.
Synthetic fibers are
materials created from petrochemicals such as:
And variety of other chemically produced fabrics. Natural Fibers because of their origin are bio degradable and harmless to the environment, on the condition they are processed without the use of chemicals. Organic Farming is a costly affair as it involves more care and no use of artificial means to cultivate the crops, the produce too is low as compared to commercial farming, and hence organically grown fibers are expensive.
The Textile Industry involves lot of processes right from the cultivation of the fibers to the final stage of fabric. The Spinning, Weaving and the Processing industry churns out lot of harmful wastes hampering our environment.
A few examples for you:
All the vegetable fibers are cultivated with the help of pesticides and fertilizers to give a high yield, especially cotton.
These fertilizers and pesticides are harmful to our environment in the long run
Man made fibres though are advantageous to natural fibres are not suitable in our climatic conditions for the wearer and also the process involved in making these fibres is more pollution generating one.
Water is very precious and less than 1% of water found on our planet can be used for human consumption, all the textile processing units need lots of water.
All the processing and Dyeing Units need to have an ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) to avoid polluting the water table and the soil of our planet.