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How to Green Your Textile Choices

You can have an immense impact on lightening your environmental footprint by the textile choices you make.

From Oecotextiles

The textile industry is a gigantic industry – and it is gigantically polluting. The textile industry uses copious amounts of two things: water and chemicals. It is the number one industrial polluter of water in the world .

Water is used at every stage in fabric manufacturing: to dissolve chemicals to be used in one step, then to wash and rinse out those same chemicals to be ready for the next step. It takes between 10% and 100% of the weight of the fabric in chemicals to produce that fabric . The production of the fabric covering your sofa required between 4 and 20 pounds of chemicals. The chemically infused effluent – saturated with dyes, de-foamers, detergents, bleaches, optical brighteners, equalizers and many other chemicals – is often released into the local river, where it enters the groundwater, drinking water, the habitat of flora and fauna, and our food chain. As Gene Lisa has said, “There is not a ‘no peeing’ part of the swimming pool.” We’re all downstream.

And many of these chemicals remain in the fabric that you bring into your room to outgas into your air, or be absorbed through your skin. Over time, with use, we abrade tiny particles of the fabric that we then ingest or inhale. One yard of organic cotton fabric conventionally processed into fabric contains 75% organic cotton fibers and 25% chemicals, many of which are proven toxic to humans and animals .

If you find the why of going green in fabric choices compelling, the next question is “How can I go green?” You may want to choose fabrics that are safe to use and safe to produce. What to do? We list here six concrete steps you can take to go green in your fabric choices. We will explain each very important point in greater detail so that you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to green your textile choices and be good stewards of the earth and of your client’s health.

1. Choose fabrics that are “organic fabrics” not simply fabric made from organic fibers.

2. If organic fabrics are not available, insist on organic fibers , and pay attention to the type of fiber used in the fabric. Buy “bast” or other more eco-friendly fibers, not cotton or synthetics.

3. Try to minimize your purchase of fabrics which are blends of natural and synthetic fibers (i.e., cotton and polyester), or blends of two or more different synthetic fibers (polyester and acrylic). Never use PVC, polyvinyl chloride, for anything, but never as a finish or fiber in fabric.

4. Search for a fabric or product that is certified by any third party, independent textile certification agency.

5. Pay attention to the carbon footprint of the fabrics you buy.

6. Keep yourself educated on the progress of the eco-textile community

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