In my previous article, I commented on the total number of procedures a garment may need to go through before being placed on the market for sale. Some of the processes, however, produce chemical emissions harmful to the environment. Alongside, I also discussed how MACHIEN is running a “Change Laces Not Shoes” campaign that seeks to reduce the amount of wasted resources while humans pursue a better life for fashion. Apart from this newly launched “Change Laces Not Shoes” action, the entire textile industry has actually made various advances and taken measures to remove the stigma toward the fashion and apparel industry.
Green Technologies in the Textile Industries
Even though currently the procedures of making a garment stay rather fixed, the actual techniques involved in each process are susceptible to change. The following are some of the groundbreaking textile technologies:
- Enzymatic Desizing: If you remember from last week, “at least 50% of the entire effluence [of fashion making] is produced during the desizing process” (Chen, 2019), since textile industries in the past adopted strong acid desizing and/or oxidative desizing methods which are considered deleterious to the human habitat. Fortunately, however, a new technology has been invented to solve this problem by using enzymes to naturally dissolve the dressing compounds on the garments (Athalye, 2013).
- Berberine Dyeing: Did you know that the medicine we take whenever we have a diarrhea contains a certain component that is to be used in clothes-making? It’s a benign alkaloid called berberine. It has been discovered that berberine can be used before applying natural dyes onto fabrics so that the dye uptake is better afterwards (Haji, 2012). This way, textile makers no longer need to use chemical coatings to improve the dyeability of the garments.
Green Fabrics in the Textile Industries
- Lotus Fiber: An eco-friendly textile company in Cambodia—Samatoa Lotus Textiles—developed a special kind of fabric made out of lotus flowers. The mission of this interesting textile enterprise is to create a career platform for local women who are using their personal labor to support their own families. To elaborate, all processes from extracting the lotus fibers to turning them into clothes are done manually, which means that no crude oil, electricity, gasoline, or other toxic substances are to be used (Samatoa, n.d.).
- Fiber from Fermented Wine: An agricultural scientist from Australia—Gary Cass—accidentally found a secret about alcohols, such as beers and wine, when he was brewing wine at his friend’s winery. That is, by including a type of bacteria called acetobacter, the alcohol would produce a cellulose-like substance that can be later retrieved and made into textile fabrics (Suparna & Rinsey Anony, 2016). Cass argued that during the making of jeans, at least 8,000 liters of water would be wasted, while a lot of natural materials are also not ‘so natural’ as they seem when growing them. Hence, upon the discovery of wine fabrics, Cass decided to throw himself into this industry and produce clothing materials out of inferior wine (“From wine to twine”, n.d.).
- Cocona Fiber: Cocona from the U.S. seeks to extract carbon fibers out of coconuts and use them to manufacture functional athletic clothing. Due to the substance used in weaving the clothes, the outfits dry out faster, deodorize better, and are more resistant to ultraviolet radiation than normal fabrics. The garbs are found to be lighter as well (Suparna & Rinsey Anony, 2016).
Up to this point, the traditional textile industry seems to be far more creative than what we normally perceive, right? I am sure that more greener and newer textile techniques as the “wine to twine” method are to be introduced later in the near future.
- Chen, Y. C. (2019). Still squandering the earth? Let’s change laces not shoes. MACHIEN e-Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.machieninc-en.com/blog/changelacesnotshoes
- Athalye, A. (March 2013). Enzymatic desizing for effective processing. Indian Textile Journal. Retrieved from http://www.indiantextilejournal.com/articles/FAdetails.asp?id=5093
- “From wine to twine”. (n.d.). The University of Western Australia. Retrieved from https://www.web.uwa.edu.au/university/publications/uniview/news-and-features/from-wine-to-twine
- Haji, A. (2013). Eco-friendly dyeing and antibacterial treatment of cotton. Cellulose Chemistry and Technology, 47, 303-308.
- Ramesh Babu, B., Parande, A. K., Raghu, S., & Prem Kumar, T. (2007). Cotton textile processing: Waste generation and effluent treatment. The Journal of Cotton Science, 11, 141-153. Retrieved from http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US201300814471
- Samatoa. (n.d.). A Cambodian Social Business. Retrieved from https://samatoa.lotus-flower-fabric.com/cambodian-social-business/?v=3d9975706be3
- Suparna, M. G. & Rinsey Antony, V. A. (2016). Eco-friendly textiles. International Journal of Science Technology and Management, 5, 67-73.