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Environmental impacts of textile industry

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Have you ever had a chance to think how clothes can destroy our environment? The textile industry covers a lot from business around the world. You can find textile industry in the manufacturing of fabrics, the different chemical companies that make synthetic fibers and all resultant products that you can find in your own furniture, cars, and of course all clothes that you wear. Textiles are everywhere, but one of the strongest businesses in the world is fashion, works by hand with textiles. Take a look of how fashion can lose its “glamour”. “The textile production industry is one of the oldest and most technologically complex of all industries,” says Michael I. Greenberg, and he is right (574). Textiles have been present in humans almost since its creation. Cavemen, for example, wore animal skins and garments made of herbs and leaves (Miller par. 2). The textile industry began as a cottage industry. For the Industrial Revolution between the 17th and 19th centuries, textiles became an industrial practice.

From this revolution, a series of inventions are created for the industry. The first invent for this time, was the flying shuttle. John Kay created this machine on 1733, it allowed double the capacity of weaving and spinning process was performed with a spinning wheel (Solarte par. 1-2). While the textile industry grew, so did fashion. In the 19th century, fashion magazines—such as the French La Mode Illustrée, the BritishLady’s Realm, and the American Godey’s Lady’s Book—proliferated and flourished. They featured articles, hand-coloured illustrations (known as fashion plates), and advertisements, fashion magazines. Together with other developments such as the sewing machine, department stores, and ready-to-wear clothing produced in standard sizes, these magazines played a significant role in promoting the democratization of fashion in the modern era. (Major). Nowadays, the machines, production and consumption of textiles for the fashion marketing has increased in an extreme way.

Focusing in terms of the manufacturing process, the textile industry can be divided into four main stages: 1) production of the strand, 2) spinning, weaving and punching, 3) fabric finishing, and 4) manufacturing textiles. Production of the strand comprises the preparation of both natural and synthetic fibers. The fabrics are produced by flat weaving process, knitting fiber or punching. Most of the part of the thread is sent to the yarn or fabric plants producing various tissues, from which the textile products are known. The third stage is the process of textile finishing. The whole cycle of finishing consists of mechanical and chemical processes, which are used depending on the kinds and end uses of the fabric. Mechanical processes include drying, calendaring, schreinering, embossing and chemical processes include in the application of special substances on the fabric, impregnation with size, starch, dextrin and other polymeric substances. The final step in the manufacturing process is to manufacture a range of products from finished fabrics. (Bohórquez par. 5)

In this final stage is when all of the residual water takes place by removing small amounts during operations scouring or treating the strand at this stage of production. Throughout the whole textile industry, the wastewater varies in respect of quantity and in natural fibers and chemical fibers with strands or fabrics are treated to processing. Textile processing plants use a wide variety of dyes and other chemicals, including acids, bases, salts, wetting agents, dyes and other auxiliary finishes. (BohĂłrquez par. 6) Therefore, the combined effluents from textile plants may contain all or any of these components. Since many textile processes are handled batch wise, the concentrations of the residual materials can vary significantly. Some processes require highly acidic conditions while others are highly alkaline. Accordingly, the pH of the wastewater can also vary greatly over a period of time. (BohĂłrquez par. 7)

The textile industry uses high volumes of water throughout its operations. On average, approximately 200 liters of water are required to produce 1kg of textiles. Besides the large volumes of water waste generated, and the wide variety of chemicals used throughout processing, it is necessary to consider the situation the world and this generation is having because of this kind of industries (Pavathi par. 8). For example, cotton cultivation needs a lot of water and fresh water is scare. Another problem is that textile processing can cause severe water pollution. Both issues have impact on the availability and the quality of fresh water in production and processing areas (CBI).

This is a serious environmental problem because there are few industries that are responsible for purifying wastewater, pouring untreated directly into rivers and turning them into a macabre chemical filled with synthetic dyes and other toxic soups. Dyes and synthetic dyes are designed to resist the action of light, water and chemicals in the tissues; however, these properties are precisely preventing biodegradation in the environment. These toxins can be hormone disruptors, affecting the reproductive system and even be carcinogenic. Incorporated into the food chain and filtered soil and groundwater. According to recent research, up to 70% of rivers, lakes and reservoirs in China are polluted (Lanau par. 1). Other problem caused by textile design is the air pollution. Most processes performed in textile mills produce atmospheric emissions. Air pollution is the most difficult type of pollution to sample, test, and quantify in an audit. Air emissions can be classified according to the nature of their sources: -Point sources: ovens, boilers and storage tanks.

-Diffusive: solvent-based, spills, wastewater treatment and warehouses. Textile mills usually generate nitrogen and sulphur oxides from boilers. Hydrocarbons are emitted from drying ovens and from mineral oils in high-temperature drying/curing. These processes can emit formaldehyde, acids, softeners, and other volatile compounds. Residues from fib preparation sometimes emit pollutants during heat setting processes. Carriers and solvents may be emitted during dyeing operations depending on the types of dyeing processes used and from wastewater treatment plant operations. Carriers used in batch dyeing of disperse dyes may lead to volatilization of aqueous chemical emulsions during heat setting, drying, or curing stages. Acetic acid and formaldehyde are two major emissions of concern in textiles (Pavathi par. 8). Other environmental impact is the solid waste pollution. The primary residual wastes generated from the textile industry are non-hazardous.

These include scraps of fabric and yarn, off-specification yarn and fabric and packaging waste. There are also wastes associated with the storage and production of yarns and textiles, such as chemical storage drums, cardboard reels for storing fabric and cones used to hold yarns for dyeing and knitting. Cutting room waste generates a high volume of fabric scraps, which can often be reduced by increasing fabric utilization efficiency in cutting and sewing (Pavathi para. 11). This is not bad at all. When it actually starts to be a problem is when all the residual wastes goes ahead to other countries that are undeveloped places, and what a better example than Africa. The bran named Levis, a production company known worldwide jeans, for example, has affected Africa by jolting its waste their fabrics and equipment causing harm to people and the environment in all kind of ways (Arbeláez par. 2). Even though the textile industry affects in a severe way the environment, there is something left to do.

Among the possible solutions to these serious problems, we look to find effective treatment at least of wastewater alternatives, governments guarantee that such treatments are mandatory for the companies being (Lanau par. 5). There are some fashion companies that care about environmental impacts because of their manufacturing, such as Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Gucci and TJX. (Fahion Hound). Another solution bring with us the consumers themselves, relying on a model of responsible consumption. So we can inform policies that are clothing brands in both environmental and labor rights, supporting brands with greater social and environmental responsibility. We should not underestimate the power we have as consumers, every time we buy a garment; we are supporting the production model and the model of society wanted. Eco-fashion or sustainable fashion is becoming a very attractive option for consumers (Lanau par. 7).

This eco-fashion is to use recycled materials or to make shoes, bags, belts and jewelry products, and natural fibers for the manufacture of clothing, in order to protect the environment. Its turning those waste materials, which previously ended up in the garbage, pollution the environment, reusable products and make them useful in developing new products that are being used in decoration and many other fields of raw material industry, and in the case of fashion, these wastes are transformed by designers, in everything that has to do in clothing, accessories and jewelry (Echeverry par. 1).

Within this trend, we can find clothes made from natural fibers from organically grown or recycled fibers, natural dyes and non-toxic manufacturing processes with low environmental impact. (Lanau par. 7) I was very excited to study textile design at first. Now, I can say I am even more! I love textures but I also love nature too. I can say I can live in a nice way with both of them. I believe I am not the only person who is worried about this issues going on around the world that indisputably have a solution. The solution to all of these problems is on our hands, are you going help to preserve nature? Or do you prefer not admiring to all the nature anymore?

Works Cited

Arbeláez, Maria Fabiola Henao. Contaminación textil: Que no hacer! 6 october 2010. 28 november 2013 .

Bohórquez, Andrés. monografias.com. .

Echeverry, Juliana. suite101. 5 april 2011. 28 november 2013. Fahion Hound. 22 april 2013. 28 november 2013 .

Greenberg, Michael I., ed. Occupational, Industrial, and Environmental Toxicology. Philidelphia: Mosby, Inc., 2003.

Lanau, Elsa. opciĂłnbio. 24 april 2012. 28 november 2013 . CBI. 28 november 2013 .

Major, John S. ENCICLOPEDIA BRITANNICA. 28 november 2013 .

Miller, Susan. eHow. .

Pavathi, C. The ITJ. november 2009. 28 november 2013

Solarte, Estefania. Prezi. 15 november 2012. 28 november 2013

Textile School. 28 november 2013 .

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