Do you wonder where your clothes come from? The material they're made of and how they are produced? Most of us don't, but if we did, we might get a bit uneasy. Now, research is helping the fashion industry take the lead in embracing the circular economy.
If you take an inventory of your closet, chances are you’ll have several garments made at least partly of polyester and nylon. These two low-cost textiles are staples of fast-fashion and currently make up about 60% of clothing and 70% of household textiles.
Polyester and nylon are synthetic fossil fuel-based fibres, meaning they are derived from oil and natural gas. The production of these fibres, their dominant position in the fashion industry, and the fact that they are not biodegradable, means that they have a huge impact on our environment. They also contain harmful microplastics that make their way into every conceivable corner of our land, oceans and waterways.
As a natural fibre, cotton is more easily recycled and requires fewer fossil fuels for its production compared to nylon, for example. However, the cotton industry demands mass land areas for cultivation; worldwide, cotton crops are sprayed with the most chemicals; and, finally, growing cotton requires vast amounts of water.