The fashion industry is the second largest user of water in the world. Petroleum is one of the toxic materials used to produce synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon. Sheep, alpaca, llamas and other wool-bearing animals contribute to the production of methane gas, a major greenhouse gas.
Over 90 million items of clothing end up in landfill sites all over the world each year.
This is why some textile and fashion industry players are trying to find ways to make their production more sustainable and less harmful to the environment, wildlife and human population.
Some companies have come up with very innovative ideas of producing fibres. Many people have heard about organic cotton and hemp, but there are many of other types of textiles produced with other materials such as PET bottles!
This year the Earth Summit in Rio had some bad press, but one clever project was agreed between Italy and Brazil. TRACES is an Italian-Brazilian innovative project on carbon footprint survey and social environmental impacts in the fashion industry. The aim of the project is to reduce the social and environmental impacts caused by fibre production for the textile industry. This collaboration also involves the brand Osklen that is internationally recognized for its design and alternative raw materials.
Together with Instituto-e the project will work on new ways to produce textiles. Instituto-e is a Brazilian organisation that promotes an environmentally friendly economic development in Brazil. The label of e-fabrics® defines the use of the following sustainable materials: organic and natural cotton, recycled cotton and PET, ‘pirarucu leather’ eco-jute, organic silk.
If you are wondering what ‘pirarucu’ is…it is a fish that you can find in Amazonia and it is mostly used as a food. The problem with this fish is that its skin can be harmful for the environment causing biological pollution when disposed of the landfill. Here using the skin as a textile is very beneficial for the environment and the local population creating jobs opportunities.
Plastic bottles represent more than 30% of waste collected in Brazil.
The project will aim to reuse them producing fibres for the textile industry. If you google ‘PET textile’, you will see that the concept is not totally new.
However in this project it will not only help the environment but also promote ethical work giving women from disadvantaged areas an alternative source of income.
The project has the objective of further the use of sustainable raw materials in order to protect biodiversity and improve social conditions. If this project continues it will be a great step forward for the fashion industry. I really hope that both governments will keep their commitments to this amazing project.
And you know what? I can’t wait to buy my “pirarucu” leather jacket!
- Cotton, organic or not? (sustainableandfashionable.wordpress.com)