Ecology

Ecology

www.posseimo.de - Kollektion 2015
This is how it all began over 30 years ago:
Manufacturers wanted to produce environmentally friendly and healthy clothing.

Ecology as it relates to textile produc­tion is IVN’s core compe­tence since its incep­tion. The conven­tional produc­tion of clothing and such impacts the environ­ment in many and various ways, many of them negative. Soil and aquifers are polluted, climate change is exacer­bated, diver­sity of species negle­cted, resources wasted, toxins end up in our clothing and much much more. Although our focus today is less on garments and more on other textile and leather products, environ­mental protec­tion and consumer safety remain two of the main focal points of our associa­tion and our members. We have only this one planet earth which only we can preserve. On a similar level, we as consu­mers are incre­asingly respectful of our own health.

www.suedwolle.com - Färberei

Chemicals in every step of production

The key factor in textile ecology is the use of chemical substances and their effect on man and environ­ment. Begin­ning with fibre culti­va­tion but exten­ding to the produc­tion of yarns and fabrics, the tanning of leather, and inclu­ding dying, printing, finis­hing and surfacing…in every step the choice to be made is between hazar­dous and harmless chemi­cals. Thanks to current techno­lo­gical achie­ve­ments, almost every­thing is possible without the use of a chemical club.

There is a logical connec­tion between the use of chemi­cals in produc­tion and the health threa­tening substances found in textile and leather products. Many toxins can be removed during the produc­tion processes but, unfort­u­na­tely, not all. Deter­gents or sweat can leach these toxins out of fibres or leather. They can then enter the body through the skin.  Or they can leak into the environ­ment through washing and do their damage there.

 

disana.de - Strickmaschine

The manufacture of textiles and leather goods:
A complicated and complex process

Not only the chemi­cals, also the processes used in the textile and leather industry are associated with many other environ­mental dangers. This is due to the fact that a textile or leather article is generally very complex. Many diffe­rent compon­ents are used for the finished garment or shoe, or are used in the proces­sing. From the raw fibre or raw animal skin to buttons, yarns, clasps and closures, and inclu­ding glues, deter­gents and other chemi­cals: the manufac­ture of each and every single compo­nent raises its own specific questions concer­ning humans and the environ­ment. The textile produc­tion chain includes a multi­tude of indivi­dual work steps.  Leather too is compli­cated to manufac­ture. Some produc­tion stages, for example the creation of fibre, tanning, dying and finis­hing involve a stronger environ­mental footprint than others. And depen­ding upon how a pair of jeans is dyed or treated deter­mines what hazar­dous effects it may have for the wearer’s health.

www.hessnatur.com - Rhoenschaf

Organic natural fibres – our specialty

Every­thing begins with the raw material.  The use of chemical pesti­cides and ferti­li­zers, the use of irriga­tion or animal rights are the most poten­ti­ally proble­matic issues involved in harve­s­ting natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool, silk and similar. By contrast, the crux in genera­ting synthetic fibres tends to be energy input, parti­cu­larly the use of non-renewable energy, and produc­tion chemi­cals. There is no easy answer to the question which fibre is ecolo­gi­cally preferable or less hazar­dous to health. In deciding whether that new sweater should be made of wool, cotton or rayon, it may help to know that certi­fied organic natural fibres are produced accor­ding to strict legal standards that guarantee that neither the environ­ment nor the wear’s health is negatively impacted.

 

www.istockphoto.com - Farbpigmente Indien

The production process – the decisive parameters for sustainable products

A delibe­rate choice for organic fibre or sustain­ably produced raw skin for leather goods is only the begin­ning. The truly resource-inten­sive processes involved in the manufac­ture of a scarf or a leather handbag have yet to begin. Conver­ting raw material, no matter whether it is leather, natural or synthetic fibre, to a usable product involves the input of many chemi­cals, water and energy. And many of these substances and compon­ents enter into surface water or into the air or even into the garbage. It is there­fore of paramount importance to work sustain­ably. Conven­tional produc­tion often results in massive pollu­tion of the environ­ment and a signi­fi­cant risk to the wearer’s health.

For textiles, the truly critical processes are the many treat­ments of the fibre, in other words dying, printing, finis­hing while, for leather, it is finis­hing. But textile products can be treated at many stages in their produc­tion chain. Yarns, fabric and even finished textiles are bleached, dyed, smoothed, finis­hings applied (wrinkle-proof, water-repel­lent, easy-iron for example). Leather is waxed, oiled or coated to make it smoother, more uniform and to improve light fastness. All of these produc­tion steps make inten­sive use of water, energy and chemi­cals. It is in these processes that the use of environ­men­tally friendly and healthy substances as well as optimized produc­tion processes that use as few resources as neces­sary makes all the difference.

 

www.istockphoto.com

What is left at the end of a product’s life

The final question is what to do with a shirt or shoes when they are no longer usable. How easy is it to recycle products or how readily do they decom­pose? Creating products in such a way that they can be returned to a life cycle is one of the challenges that we will incre­asingly have to face in the future. Our goal is to ecolo­gi­cally optimize the produc­tion chain for textiles and leather goods and thereby trans­form our industry as quickly and sustain­ably as possible into an environ­men­tally friendly industry.

 

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