It is well known that every customer product has an impact on the environment. However an average consumer does not know which product has less or more impact than the other one. Any product, which is made, used or disposed of in a way that significantly reduces the harm it would otherwise cause to the environment, could be considered as eco-friendly product. Slowly, consumers in India are taking lead in prompting manufacturers to adopt clean technologies to produce eco-friendly products.
The textile industry is shared between natural fibres such as wool, silk, linen, cotton and hemp, and man-made ones, the most common of which are synthetic fibres (polyamide, acrylic) made from petrochemicals. Most of the clothes in our wardrobes contain polyester, elastane or Lycra. These cheap and easy-care fibres are becoming the textile industry's miracle solution. However, their manufacture creates pollution and they are hard to recycle (with nylon taking 30 to 40 years to decompose).The textile and clothing industry is a diverse one, as much in the raw materials it uses as the techniques it employs. At each of the six stages typically required to make a garment, the negative impacts on the environment are as numerous as they are varied. Spinning, weaving and industrial manufacture undermine air quality. Dyeing and printing consume vast amounts of water and chemicals, and release numerous volatile agents into the atmosphere that are particularly harmful to our health.
Several times a year in the world's fashion capitals, willowy models in dazzling outfits sashay down the catwalk to present the coming season's trends. Each year a handful of designers set the tone, says what's in and what's not. Chain-stores and mass retailers then adapt their ideas for the man and woman in the street. Fashion feeds a growing industry and ranks textile and clothing as the world's second-biggest economic activity for intensity of trade. However, stiff competition forces down costs while working conditions, more often than not in developing countries, are far from ideal. The environment pays a heavy price too. To improve conditions for workers and stem pollution, textile producers, manufacturers and distributors are launching the first initiatives built around sustainable development: who knows, ecology may be the next new trend!
The world of fashion may be stylish, glamorous and exciting, but its impact on environment is worsening day by day.
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 246 million child-workers (age 5 to 14) in the world today. The Asian-Pacific region exploits the most child labour, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In the textile sector, children are a cheap workforce for picking cotton, hand-sewing, etc. Thanks to the scandals revealed by NGOs and to consumer pressure, global brands are slowly integrating social clauses into their subcontractor agreements.
From an environmental point of view, the clothes we wear and the textiles they are made from can cause a great deal of damage.