By Evangelina Sosa
The creation of artificial synthetic materials through chemical processes has simplified the development of the textile industry. However, most of these products have a high environmental impact in their life cycle.
The demand for fast fashion prompted the development of garments with the aim of being wrinkle-free, easy to iron, stain resistant and durable, among other functions. The downside of these developments is the addition of chemicals to the manufacturing process at levels that can be detrimental to our health and the environment.
One of the textile products with the greatest environmental impact is polyester. This product is derived from petroleum and is present in more than 50% of the fibers that are produced and used daily. Created synthetically, it is also known as PET (thermoplastic polyester,) and allows the production of microfibers that are applied to different uses, such as sportswear due to its absorption capacity, although in some people it may cause different reactions in the skin as it does not allow a good breathing.
The low economic cost of this material, compared to others such as cotton, is the characteristic that allows polyester to be the first choice in the fast fashion industry.
Advertising vs Concrete Actions
In 2021, during the pandemic, WRAP announced the launch of an ambitious initiative called Textiles 2030, aimed at transforming the textile industry in favor of circularity.
This initiative is essentially a voluntary agreement where some leading fast fashion brands made visible their commitment to take actions to reduce the carbon emissions generated with their activity. However, there has been criticism stating that these actions are brand strategies that do not offer concrete solutions.
While some sectors of the industry seek to develop new products and alternatives to the production we already know, there are designers and entrepreneurs who are growing and offering sustainable alternatives.
The sustainable fashion brand Animaná has been working for more than 10 years with artisans from the Andes. Their project is based on collaborative work using natural fibers and valuing traditional textile techniques, which allows families to become entrepreneurs and boost their growth.
Working on the transformation of the fashion value chain, offering innovative alternatives that generate a positive impact and generating awareness in consumption is Animaná's proposal over fast fashion.
It is important to stay informed to make informed decisions when buying or recommending products, since many brands use synthetic materials and even promote the "recycling" of plastic material to produce new garments, minimizing the impact of fossil fuels and the impact of synthetic fibers in the environment.
Image “License to greenwash” de Changing Markets Foundation. Available at: http://changingmarkets.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/LICENCE-TO-GREENWASH-EX-SUMMARY.pdf [Retrieved April 7, 2022]
“Fossil Fashion” of Changing Markets Foundation. Available at: https://changingmarkets.org/portfolio/fossil-fashion/ [Retrieved April 7, 2022]
“Sustainable fashion and textiles” of WRAP. Available at: https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/textiles [Retrieved April 7, 2022]