Global Warming:

 

In the recent few years, global warming has become an international key issue. Global Warming is the increase in the average temperature of the surface air near the earth. During the past 100 years, the earths temperature has risen on an average of 0.74 0.18 C. Many reasons are believed to be the cause of this. The main reason is the anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations which are commonly known as Green House Effect. Ozone is a layer of gas surrounding the earths surface and helps to shield the earth from ultra violet radiation. Use of certain catalysts resulted in the release of gases. Excess release of gases like carbon-dioxide, methane and others has caused depletion in the ozone layer which has resulted in the release of chlorofluorocarbons and halocarbons into the atmosphere. The thickening layer of carbon-dioxide and other gases trap the heat of the atmosphere. Carbon-dioxide is responsible for more than 80 percent of global warming.

 

Global warming and its surrounding issues can significantly impact lives at various levels right from atmosphere, to economical, environmental and health of all living beings. Sea levels might increase as a result of melting of ice due to increasing heat; causing floods in the coastal areas. Heat waves will become more forceful. Wildfires and droughts are likely to occur frequently. This will disturb the ecosystem and may be put some species to extinction. Vital diseases may spread across the globe.


Textiles and Global Warming:

 

Textile industry is chemically intensive. Approximately 2000 different varieties of chemicals are used in textile industries right from dyes to transfer agents. Water, an elixir that is becoming scarce nowadays is also becoming contaminated due to the chemical treatments of textiles, and affects the environment in the long run. The effluent water, its increased pH, discharges from dyes, de-foamers, bleaches and other strong chemicals pollute the environment, increases the heat, and cause global warming ultimately.

 

  • Textile Wastages:

 

An industrial report states that more than 1 million tones of textile are thrown away each year out of which 50 percent are recyclable. They are mainly from textile and yarn manufacturers, and garment manufacturing industries. These textiles need a landfill space. Textiles with synthetic fibres do not decompose quickly. Woollen garments while decomposing generate gases like methane which results in global warming.

 

  • Wet Treatment on Textiles:

 

Wet treatment of textiles like desizing, prewashing, mercerizing, dyeing, printing etc includes a lot of chemical applications on the fibres or fabric. The removal or sizing agents from woven fabric during desizing leaves a considerable amount of residue in the waste water. These substances have a high demand for oxygen during degradation. Prewashing is done on finished textiles. Some fibres are bleached before dyeing so as to make the process more effective. The chlorine used during this process might release organo-chlorine compounds which are hazardous. Dyeing process contains a number of chemicals and heavy metals, which cause heavy discharges in the waste water. High amount of fossil fuels are consumed during the process of wet treatment on textiles. Fossil fuels have a large amount of carbon content and react with oxygen and forms carbon-dioxide. This causes global warming, acidification, and fossil fuel depletion.

 

 

Counteractive Measures:

 

Climate change is too big a problem to be solved easily. Governments, industries, and individuals; together should take the responsibility to lower the environmental impact from conditions of global warming.

 

  • Textile Recycling:

 

Recovery and recycling of textile materials reduces the need for landfill space, minimizes decomposing issues and ultimately reduces the extent of global warming. The textile collected can be sent to the wiping and flocking industries, and fibres can be retrieved which can be put to use again. Garments manufactured from both natural and manmade fibres can be recycled in this way.

 

  • Treatment of textile effluents:

 

Treatment of waste water obtained from chemically treated textiles is a must. Use of chrome mordant dyeing and limiting the emission of copper, chromium and nickel into water reduces impurities in dyes and pigments. Dyeing carriers that have high chlorine content should be avoided. While bleaching, alternative agents that are less or not hazardous can be used.

 

  • Going Organic:

 

With the increasing awareness of global warming and environmental hazards, organic cotton and its products is becoming integral for both manufacturers, and the ultimate consumers. Apparel industries world wide are now planning to use 100 percent organic cotton for their products or at least a small blend of organic cotton with conventional cotton. Organic soil scrubs the atmosphere of global warming gases by trapping the carbon-dioxide and converting it into soil material. Organic farming is a powerful tool in the global warming arsenal.

 

  • Using Natural Fibres:

 

Many natural fibres are available as natures gift to mankind. Concern about global warming has led to an increased interest in using natural fibres. Using natural fibres, enables easy recycling, less degradation, and is environmentally friendly.

 

v     Linen: Linen is a natural, vegetable fibre from the flax of a plant. It is two to three times stronger than cotton, absorbs moisture easily, and is also comfortable to wear. It also possesses insulation properties, and hence can keep the body cool during hot weather, and vice versa. A little creasing in this fabric only adds to its authenticity.

v     Bamboo: A natural growing weed like fibre. It is easy to grow and does not require any chemical fertilizers. Crowned with antibacterial abilities, this modern day fibre offers comfort, economy as well as a luxury look. A blend of cotton and bamboo fibres in the fabric would also prove beneficial.

 

v     Rice Straw: These fibres look similar to linen and are cheap, abundant, and a renewable alternate to synthetic fabric.

 

v     Chicken Feathers: A finished chicken feather fabric will resemble woolen fabric. This process is at its early stage of development.

 

These fibres are a few to name, but variety of natural fibres are available, which if put to optimum utilization will benefit mankind and save the environment as well.

 

 

Retail Remedies:

 

Currently, retailers are coming up with new plans to go environmentally friendly. Increasing awareness among the public about global warming and its adverse consequences has led to the retailers going eco friendly, so as to keep pace with the changing trends and attitudes of the customers and boost their profits and to protect the environment as well.

 

  • Marks & Spencer: They plan to adopt practices that are less hazardous to the environment. The companys plan is to make their carbon neutral in the next five years. They have installed hydrocarbon/CO2 systems in the stores as refrigerants which has a lesser global warming potential. Measures are taken to incorporate polyester from recycled plastic bottles in its clothing.

 

  • Wal-Mart: It focuses on renewable energy and cutting down on waste. They offer customers a fluorescent light bulb which is believed to save the consumers money and energy, and also lower emissions of green house gases.

 

  • H&M: This Swedish retail giant has eliminated PVC from its packing and clothing materials.

 

Other retailers like Timberland and Tesco have sustainability programmes by reducing carbon and PVC usage. Around 500 companies in Hong Kong have adopted the Oeko-TexStandard 100 certification, a uniform testing and certification of raw materials and end products at all stages of production. Others are likely to follow.

 

From developing nations to industrial countries, global warming affects everyone. Environmentalists and lawmakers are of the opinion that global warming is a real deal and human activities have been causing it. Embracing eco friendly products and activities to minimize emissions of heat-trapping gases that would degrade the environment is the need of the hour.

 

References:

 

1) http://www.wisegeek.com

2) http://www.nrdc.org/

3) http://www.wasteonline.org.uk

4) http://www.eco-forum.dk

5) http://www.oecotextiles.com/

6) http://plana.marksandspencer.com

7) http://www.cnsnews.com

 

 

 

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