The textile industry is considered as the most ecologically harmful industry in the world. The eco-problems in textile industry occur during some production processes and are carried forward right to the finished product. In the production process like bleaching and then dyeing, the subsequent fabric makes a toxin that swells into our ecosystem.There fore the need of eco textiles is felt.Green textiles refer to clothing and other accessories that are designed to use organic and recycled material

In this page

  1. What are Eco Textiles?
  2. Green Activities in Textile Industries

What are Eco Textiles?

In recent years ecological issues have loomed large especially in textile and apparel industry, an industry not noted for eco friendliness.Every textile item releases effluents that are harmful to the environment.The traditional textile industry consumes large amounts of earth's natural resources and pollutes the environment as their production and processing involves Chemical Intensive Applications therefore the need for green textiles. During the production process controlling pollution is as vital as making a product free from the toxic effect. The utilization of rayon for clothing has added to the fast depleting forests and opened the door to the development in natural sustainable fibres like organic Cotton, Hemp and Bamboo fibres. Petroleum-based products are harmful to the environment. In order to safeguard our environment from these effects, an integrated pollution control approach is needed.Fabrics made in eco-friendly way can substitute normal products.Green textiles refer to clothing and other accessories that are designed to use organic and recycled materials, less packaging and more energy-efficient manufacturing.Reducing the environmental impact throughout the life-cycle of a fabric item or using lower impact products can contribute actively to improve the situation.In general, there are four major environmental key factors associated with the making of textiles: water, energy, pollution, and use of non-renewable resources.

Green Activities in Textile Industries

Textile and clothing manufacturers are encouraged to re-examine the whole life cycle of their products with the aim to minimize environmental degradation at every stage, from manufacturing to disposal. They have to pay special attention in the selection of dyes and ensure the products are low in formaldehyde and free from pesticides and heavy metals. The reason behind those environmental requirements in textile and garment are as follows:

General Parametres & Restrictions Reasons
pH Value Human skin has a light acid coating which inhibits the development of many diseases, textiles in which the pH lies in the neutral(pH7) or slightly acid region(below 7)are friendly to the skin. Alos, under extreme pH consition fabric will be damaged.
Formaldehyde Content Easy care finishing incorporates artificial resin containing formaldehyde which is intended to prevent shrinkage and to give the porduct a crease- resistnat ,smooth dry and soil release finish. However resin finished fabric may retian chlorine resulting in fishy odour, fabric damage and skin irritations. Formaldehyde is found in clothing in a latent form as resin and also as free formaldehyde (splited off from resin by high temperature, pH or oxidants). Formaldehyde has a strong irritatn effect on the mucous membrane and may cause inflammation of the human respiratory tract. It can also give rise to inflammation of the skin. Formaldehyde is one of the most significant allergy causeing agents and is porbably also cancer inducing.
Heavy Metal Residues Heavy metals are constituents of dyes. They can also be found in natural fibres because plants can absorb them through the soil or the air. Once absorbed by human , heavy metals tend to accumulate in the liver, kidney, bones heart and brain. The effect on health can be tremendous when certain level of accumulation is reached in affecting organs, e.g. mercury will affect the nervous system. The condition is particularly serious to children because of thier higher absorption of the heavy metals
Pesticides RE=esidues Pesticides are used in cotton cultivation for combating insects and also as moth protection during storage. They are rated from slightly to strongly toxic for humans. Sometimes they are very easily assimilated through the skin.Lindan is a possible assumed to be cancer inducing.
Pentachlorophenol(PCP) & 2,3,5,6-Tetrachlorophenol(TeCP) To prevent mould spots(caused by fungi) chorinated phenots are applied directly on the textiles and leather mainly in the third world countries. Both PCP and TeCP are very toxic and regarded as cancer inducing substances.
Azo Dyestuffs Azostuffs which can be reductively separated in arylamine of the MAK Groups III A1 and III A2 should not be used This is the name of the group of synthetic dyestuffs based on nitrogen and which are often used for textiles.Separation products of certain Azo dyestuffs are regarded as cancer inducing and allergic. If a person has once been sensitized, other products which is contianing Azo dyestuffs will lead to allergic reactions.
Chlorinated Organic Cariers Commonly used as antistatic agent and flame retarding agent. It is very toxic which can cause pigmentation to skin, gastrointestinal disturbance and cancer.
Notes on Color Fastness Weting, sweating or rubbing may cause colour migration of garments . Those dye pigments released are easily absorbed by human through skin are especially harmful to babies.Particular attention should be paid to colour fastness of babywears.
Notes on the smell of Mildew, Heavy Naptha, Fish, Aromas or Anti odour Finishes The presence of this smell means that too much residual chemicals are left in the textiles. There exhibits a possibility that it is hazardous to human health.
Release of Nickel
European Parliament and Council Dorective 94/27/EC with three European Testing standards
  • EN 1810
  • EN 1811
  • En 12472
The presence of nickel in certain objects coming into direct and prolonged skin contact may cause sensitization of humans to nickel and may lead to allergic reactions.The use og nickel in such objects is thus limited. Such objects include rivet buttons, tightners,rivets,zippers and metal marks, when these are used in garments.
Organitin Compound
(TBT and DBT)
Tributyltin(TBT) are organotin compounds used for anti-microbial finishing. High concentration are considered toxic. These sunstances can be taken up via the skin and affects, depending on the dosage, out nervous system.In textile industry organotin compounds have been used for preventing the bacterial degradation of sweat and the corresponding unpleasant odour of socks , shoes and sport clothes.
Dibutyltin(DBT) are also organotin compounds with various applications, such as an intermediate for stabilizers of polyvinyle chloride, a catalyst for electro deposition paints , a catalyst for vairous types of polyurethanes and a catalyst for esterification.
Dry cleaning using Ozone
Depelting chemicals(ODCs)
The EPA Cean Air Act ammendment of the U.S required a warning label for products contianing or manufactured with class I ODCs and banned the use of Class II ODCs in those non essential products e.g foam components.
Dry cleaning is often not justified and it obliges the sutoer to dry clean the fabric even through a normal wash would suffice. In the dry cleaning process , CFC( freons= ozone killers) are used which are very hostile to the environment. CFCs are not degradable in the air layers closest to earth. They move to the stratosphere after tens of years and contribute to the decline of the ozone layer (hence leading to the green house efffect).
Limit the use of "Brighteners" Visual brighteners are not only used for white washing that is to look beautifully brilliant white.Pastel toned clothes are also finished wiht such substances to give them "added brilliance". Visual brighteners transform invisible UV light inot visisble blue light. To the human eye, a white eith a light blue tinge appears especially white. These substances cn gie rise to allergies and skin disease.
Limit the se of "Softening agents" Textiles feel hard to the tough after the finishing process, so softening agents are added to give the fibres a soft and flexible surface. Softeners are known to be allergens and burden the water consumtion in industry as well as in home.
Merchandise should be produced in an environmenttally compatible manner. The products should be made frm recycled material. Environmentally kind raw materials shold be used in the production. Energy cnsumtion should be reduced in production. The product should be recycled easily when no longer needed. A low pollution disposalis required when the products no longer needed.
Limit the use of Packaging The more packaging materials we use , the higher the chance we have to dispose them.
The packaging should be easily disposed. Many blister packs and boxes are made of polyvinylechloride(PVC) plastic. In buring of one kilo of PVC, 582 grams of hydrochloric acid are emitted inot the environment( causing acid rain)
Plastic packaging matrials should be declared The declaration directly on the plastic itself is the determining factor for recognition and collection of the various plastics.
Phthalates in PVC Phthalates are the most common plasticisers ysed to soften PVC. Softened PVC is ery useful due to its greater flexibility and workability. However , some studies showed that the softened PVC when analysed under stimulated conditions, might release phthalates in quantities which were considered to cause potential hazardous effect on young children especially for those under the age of three.
Flame Retardant Flame Retardant is usually added in textile material to improve its flame resistance. some common ones are 2,3 dibromoprophyl phosphate, Polybrominated biphenyls(PBB) and Poly borminated diphenylether(PBDE). However, prolonged exposure to thenhigh dosage of flame retardant will have considerable effect such as impair or immune system, hypothyroidism, memory loss and joint stiffness
Biocides Bocides are ususally organotin compounds or quatenary ammonium compounds.Most of them are toxic in nature.They are used as antifungal or antibacterial agent.
Allergic Dyes/Carcinogenic Dyes Some dyestuffs used in textie industry are classified as allergic dyes/carcinogenic dyes.Prolonged exposure to them may lead to allergic reaction or even cancer inducing. In the meantime,19 kinds of dyestuffs are classified as allergic dyes while 7 kinds of dyestuffs are classified as carcinogenic dyes according to Oko-Tex Standard 100