The factor of sustainability in the textile industry has increased in relevance for consumers. Sustainability may and will therefore become an important criterion and competitive advantage for the manufacturers in the textile industry. For this reason, Gherzi group decided in cooperation with TU Chemnitz to bring to life a Sustainable Textile School in which the attention of students and professionals would be further drawn to this subject with instruction from experts. Our goal is to establish a global textile engineering platform. From fiber to garment we create sustainability together!
Our Sustainable Textile School will contain 5 different strands:
- Resources: We will cover topics such as fibre production, usage and consumption as well as implications for fabric production and recycling.
- Production Fabric: You will get an overview of different manufacturing methods which will be compared regarding their ecological impact.
- Textile Chemistry: Our experts will shed light on different “wet processes” in textile production like garnavivage and garment washing.
- Supply Chain: One of the central issues will be how a transparent supply chain can be build.
- Politics: There is a huge number of licenses and labels. We will analyse which of those can foster sustainability trustworthily.
There will be theoretical and practical contributions to each of our five dimensions. The morning will be dedicated to three parallel seminars á 45 minutes. They will be held by experts from the industry and science. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to participate in one of the four workshops to deepen your understanding of certain topics. Qualified representatives from the textile and clothing industry will guide you through their field of expertise. Following this, you are invited to share the results from your workshop with other attendants to help gaining further knowledge.
We will publish the full programme soon.
Focus on textile chain
Each point of the textile chain is viewed individually and overlappingly. Currently there are several social and ecological pitfalls within the textile value chain. The Sustainable Textile School will address those issues and offer innovative, social and eco-friendly solutions.
Usually to produce fibre and yarn extensive agriculture is needed, which uses up a huge amount of land, water (e.g. 7000 l for a pair of jeans) and energy and at the same time gives rise to high levels of emissions. Not to mention the farmers’ severe exposure to pesticides and the dependence upon global seed manufactures.
When it comes to fabric production severe injustices concerning the weavers and seamstresses can be observed. NGOs report harmful and poorly paid work conditions, that often can be identified as forced labour. Furthermore, the use of spinning oil and other additives lead to problems regarding the durability of the fabrics and ecological problems.
Dyeing and Printing
It is no secret, that conventional dyes and printing techniques cause serious problems to the environment, the textile workers and consumers. Greenpeace dedicated a whole campaign to this issue. The detox campaign calls attention to polluted rivers in Asia and remaining chemicals in the clothes, that can be absorbed through the skin.
Especially functional garments get coated with dirt an oil-repellent finishes. The resulting weather resistance is important for the success of most outdoor clothing and equipment companies. Meanwhile, the associated per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFC) can be found in the most remote areas of the world. PFC is not easily degradable in nature but harmful for the environment.
Assembling, Packing, Sale and Usage
Some brands present up to twelve collections a year. An average woman purchases 30 kilogrammes of clothing per year of which almost a third will never be worn. At the same time, huge billboards and high-gloss magazine ads seduce us to further consumption. Until the moment someone can call a new item his or her own the garment travelled a long way and produced high CO2 emissions. And only recently researchers raised awareness on the issue of environment-impairing microplastics, that is set free during laundry.
More than half of all clothing items are disposed after a maximum period of three years. One part of the garment goes straight to landfill. Some clothes can be recycled. Unfortunately, today’s recycling procedures still must deal with quality losses throughout the process. The remaining clothes are collected by companies. Those companies sort the clothing into different categories: The best items are reselled in North- and West European and North American countries. Second class garment is sold in East Europe and everything else that is still wearable is sold to African countries. This practice can easily lead to the destruction of local textile markets in Africa.
Why do we do that
We cannot longer ignore the massive social and ecological problems caused by many current textile practices. As mainly privileged human beings we have a responsibility towards our fellow human beings, the environment and ultimately future generations. We strongly believe that sustainability within the textile chain is no question of goodwill, but is essential to sustain a diverse and healthy environment for each and every one of us and our children.