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Textile Choices: Cleaner Options for Every Application

Standard textiles can have a toxic, devastating impact on our environment. Your project can do better.

The global textile industry has a poor environmental record.

It takes 200 tons of water to produce 1 ton of textiles, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Textile dyeing and finishing are responsible for 17% to 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution, the World Health Organization estimates. Synthetic fiber production can use vast amounts of energy. For example, it takes almost 16 kWh of energy per pound (125 MJ/kg) to make virgin polyester, according to NRDC.

Though this data comes primarily from the apparel industry, and U.S. contract textile manufacturers have cleaner production methods, many of the raw material concerns are similar (watch for an upcoming product review of a few exemplary products). For each of the most significant life-cycle impacts of textile manufacturing, we’ve developed guidance on environmentally responsible material choices that can meet most designers’ needs.

Published February 9, 2016