Sustainable fashion is a vital solution in the fight against climate change. Learn how purpose-designed clothing of the future offers novel and environmental benefits
Sustainable fashion is a vital solution in the fight against climate change. Learn how purpose-designed clothing of the future offers novel and environmental benefits.
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges our planet is facing today. As a society, we must explore new ways to reduce our environmental impact and find innovative solutions in all aspects of our lives. Even in fashion.
The textile industry, which has traditionally had a negative impact on the environment, is undergoing a transformation towards sustainability with the aim of mitigating its carbon footprints.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), clothing manufacturing is responsible for 4% to 10% of global emissions. To put it in perspective, the emissions caused by the fashion business exceed the sum of all international flights in the world. These alarming figures force us to rethink how we conceive and produce clothing.
However, in the midst of this troubling reality, we also found an exciting opportunity. Technology and innovation have come together in the search for textile solutions that are beneficial both for the environment and for us. In this article, we will explore some sustainable technologies applied to clothing designed to adapt to climate change.
We will explore everything from smart fabrics that regulate body temperature to eco-friendly manufacturing processes that reduce water and energy consumption. These innovations not only allow us to dress responsibly, but also open up a range of opportunities for a brighter future.
Sustainable textile technologies
According to (UNEP), about 20% of industrial water pollution comes from dyeing and treating textiles. A prominent case is the production of jeans. 5 billion units are manufactured each year, and just to achieve the desired final look, which includes wear and tear, approximately 105 liters of water is required for each garment. In addition to this, various chemicals are used, which ultimately become waste and pollute the world's rivers. These chemicals also expose the two million people who work in the textile industry.
To solve this health and environmental problem, a Spanish company called Jeanología, dedicated to developing innovative technologies for the textile industry, decided to bet on the creation and production of technology for the jeans finishing process. Using laser techniques, they manage to wear down and break the tissues. This allows them to replace methods like sandblasting or hand sanding, which are tedious, time-consuming, and can cause repetitive stress injuries to workers. In addition, they use ozone gas, highly oxidizing, to achieve other effects of wear or stone washing, thus avoiding the use of water. Through techniques called eflow, based on the use of nanobubbles, they manage to soften denim fabrics. They also have the H2Zero system, which optimizes the recycling of water in the process. These are just some of the technologies that they have developed, and according to its creator Enrique Silla, by applying them, water consumption in the finishing process is drastically reduced, going from 100 liters per garment to just 5.
Smart fabrics like a second skin
This breakthrough is an important step towards the clothing of the future, as smart fabrics will be able to function like a second skin and protect people from extreme temperatures caused by climate change.
It turns out that a team of researchers from the universities of Maryland (USA) and Xiamen (China) developed a fabric with the ability to adjust the temperature automatically and instantly.
By using fibers produced from a chemical compound derived from cellulose and coated with carbon nanotubes, the researchers managed to make the fabric act as a kind of door that can allow the passage or retain heat. "This is the first technology that allows us to control the passage of infrared radiation (body heat) dynamically," said University of Maryland professor and study creator YuHuang Wang.
The fibers created have the property of attracting and repelling water. In this way, when the athlete sweats, the fabric identifies the humidity and its filaments become disorganized. Similar to skin, the fibers create openings or spaces to allow heat to escape. On the contrary, in cold conditions and low humidity, said openings are closed to thus conserve body heat.
This type of intelligent fabric not only seeks to protect the human being. Another priority is caring for the environment by reducing the amount of clothing used and using less harmful materials, such as bacterial pigments, to mention an example. "In the future, we will not only wear clothes that automatically adjust the temperature, but also their hue," the scientist explained.