Nylon to Fashion: an ecological expression of textile design


Due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling, it is estimated that more than $500 billion of value is lost every year, even as the average number of times a piece of clothing is worn decreased by 36 percent between 2000 and 2015. Although the textile industry produces and sells somewhere between 80 billion and 150 billion garments a year globally, the World Bank posits that  40 percent of clothing purchased in some countries is never used. All the while, clothing production has doubled with factors like a growing middle class population, the emergence of a fast fashion phenomenon and an increased number of new styles and collections driving market growth.

In its 2017 report titled A new textiles econom: Redesigning fashion’s future, the Ellen McArthur Foundation projects that should this current trend continue, the total clothing sales would reach 160 million tonnes in 2050. According to the World Economic Forum, fashion production makes up 10 percent of humanity’s carbon emissions, while also drying up water sources and polluting rivers and streams. 

Fashion pollutes our planet As stated by the World Economic Forum, 20 percent of industrial water pollution is attributed to the dyeing and treatment of textiles, even as it has been estimated that around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers shed during the washing of plastic-based textiles, such as nylon  polyester or acrylic, end up in the ocean annually.

Today’s linear system of create-and-waste uses a large amount of resources and has negative impacts on the environment and people. Meanwhile, less than 1 percent of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, thereby leading to a loss of more than $100 billion worth of materials annually.

A 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35 percent of all microplastics – miniscule pieces of plastic that never biodegrade – in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester. While local communities benefit from employment opportunities, the environmental downsides pose a serious threat to health as the mere discharge of untreated production wastewater can pollute local rivers used for drinking, fishing or even bathing.

Noticing how people in her community usually dump textile and plastic wastes by the road side, with some even going to the extent of burning them, Adejoke Lasisi, a young lady from Nigeria, decided to craft an innovative solution which focuses on training young people to recycle plastic and textile waste. As industry and customers become increasingly aware of the effects of the current linear system in the textile industries, some retailers and brands have started addressing these specific socio-environmental challenges within their supply chains – individually and collectively. Nigerian initiative turns nylon into fashion

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