Over the last month of studying sustainability, I have been struggling with my love of fashion and the more decision to be sustainable. I thought that being sustainable meant I needed to buy fewer clothes or keep the clothes that I have for a longer period of time. Both of these situations are the ideal solution to our problem but I learned this week that there is an alternative answer to my inner conflict. A diversity of the fibers used to produce fabric. Currently cotton and polyester make up 80% of the textiles being produced worldwide. These two fibers require a large amount of two non-renewable resource, water and petroleum. Not only that but polyester is not biodegradable. To diversify the fibers used would mean an increased use of other fibers in blends or fabrics made completely out of other fibers. Doing this decreased the impact of the textile industry on water and petroleum and would spread the environmental impact to other areas that may not be depleting as quickly.
This information is relevant to all of us because our clothing and home textile options predominantly include cotton and polyester. If we choose to stop buying products made from these textiles the industry will realize that this is not what we desire and shift their fiber usage. It is helpful to understand that despite popular belief, cotton is not the best way to go because it is grown versus being made from chemicals. This knowledge is not being expressed to consumers so they are continuing to favor cotton.
Personally I am going to stop buying items bade from cotton and polyester, especially if it is not mixed with at least one other fiber, when possible. Not only will I be doing my part to help the environment but with such a lack in alternate options, I will probably be doing my bank account a favor as well.
I hope to discover soon which fiber production is the least damaging to the environment as a whole. Since all fibers require different resources it is difficult to compare them. I believe that if we look at the overall impact versus comparing each resource we can discover which does the least amount of damage. I would then seek items out that were made from that fiber.