CLOTHING PRODUCTION IN OVERDRIVE?
Many of the processes and products that go into the making of fibres and textiles consume significant quantities of fossil fuel. The fashion industry is responsible for a full 10% of the total carbon impact. That’s a little bit absurd considering the only message we’re ever told is to just buy more. On average, we wear a piece of clothing just seven times before we get rid of it. Because of this disposability the global fashion industry is pumping out more clothes than ever, 150 billion pieces a year as a matter of fact, which is over twenty pieces of new clothing for every single person on the planet every single year. To get out all these clothes these factories are on overdrive.
So, it all comes down to the individual textile, what they are made of. THE DEATH CLOTH archive features 4 commonly used textiles in apparel manufacturing today, but what you don't know is that they can easily be considered 4 of the deadliest for emitting greenhouse gas emissions.
COTTON is a natural, plant-based fibre. Overall, cotton is found in 40% of our clothing. It is the second most common fibre behind polyester, which is used in more than 52% of our clothing. Among natural fibres, cotton is by far the most widely used, accounting for 90% of natural fibres in textiles. Almost all of the world’s cotton, 99.3% of it to be exact, is grown chemically, through farming methods that rely on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and/or genetically modified seeds.
FACT: China oversees nearly 4,700 acres of cotton yearly.
VISCOSE is mostly commonly made from wood pulp, where the cellulose is broken down, and then “regenerated” into a fibre. The environmental burden comes in disposing of the chemicals used in the production phase: the sodium hydroxide, though not toxic to humans, is harmful to the environment if dumped into our rivers. Unlike other fabrics, viscose is biodegradable.
FACT: The dying stage in viscose fabric may cause as much as 19% of greenhouse emissions for the lifecycle of that garment to be.
WOOL is an animal-based natural fibre that comes from the fleece of sheep. In 2013, global wool output accounted for 3% of the world’s production of natural fibres and 1.3% of the global fibre market.
FACT: Before we even get around to the fleecing stage, wool in its original form gives us a reason to be weary. Ruminant livestock have bacteria in their stomachs that produce methane, a gas that has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
POLYESTER is not biodegradable and is made from petroleum, making it unsustainable by its very nature. The manufacturing of polyester emits a large amount of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. The impact of one pound of nitrous oxide on global warming is almost 300 times that of the same amount of carbon dioxide.
FACT: 70 million barrels of oil is used to produce polyester in one year.
*For the purposes of this archive, Imagery sourced has been limited to textiles under VF. Corporation & H&M. VIEW TDC FACTSHEET