Materials 1.0 – Textiles

Sunday – June 11th, 2017

This is going to be the first of many posts about materials that are used in products. The energy and chemicals that are needed and used in the life cycle of the product.

Today’s focus is: Textiles


  • Raw Materials

It is important to think about where and how you are getting the materials to make your product. Whether these materials are renewable or not, if they are responsibly farmed or not (GMO’s, pesticides, ethical farming methods, efficient watering that doesn’t flood other feedstock, etc.), if there is enough of the material and if growing more of it does not damage the livelihood of another feedstock.

Cotton is a crop that requires more chemical pesticides and insecticides than any other crop. On a yearly basis, cotton farming accounts for 25% of all use of chemical pesticides and insecticides. Although all these are crucial to the survival of the crop only 1% of the chemicals deployed actually do what they are supposed to and serve their purpose. Figuring out how to more efficiently grow cotton and produce less chemical waste is an opportunity here.

Hot Spots: Destroying feedstocks, toxic waste, soil health, water, polluting water systems.

  • Manufacturing

Efficient manufacturing methods are crucial. It requires a ton of energy to turn something from a raw material, to yarn, to a finished product. This takes multiple machines and tons of energy. A bunch of waste is also produced from many of the manufacturing methods.

Dyeing is a huge hotspot in the production and manufacturing of textiles. It takes ample amounts of dye and water to color textiles and not all of it is used, creating large amounts of toxic waste water that is often not taken care of properly; which ends up killing aquatic life, ruining soil, and is poisonous to drink.

Hot Spots: Dyeing, efficiency of machinery.

  • Transportation

Everyone knows that burning fossil fuels is a huge contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. What contributes to how much fuel is burned is the weight of the product being transported; the heavy the product is the more force is required to move the truck at a certain speed, the more fuel that is burned. Speed efficiency is also critical. All motors burn fuel more efficiently at different speeds. Being able to maximize mpg with a load is important to reduce not just emissions but could also greatly reduce costs.

Hot Spots: Fossil Fuels

  • Use

Few people know and understand the simple chore of washing and drying their clothing. Drying is the hotspot here that accounts for (on average) 90% of the energy use. Washers don’t requires as much energy because they are not constantly heating something and the water used is not toxic and can still be used afterward; washers can be even more efficient when you wash clothes in cold water. Dryers are constantly heating and require large amounts of energy to keep warm over the entire drying period.

Wear and tear: Durability and longevity is a small fact that many people don’t consider in the effectiveness of a product. If a product lasts longer that means that a person will not have to go buy another product to replace one that is old and damaged, reducing the amount of waste and amount of raw materials, and energy needed to make another product. Making a durable product that is easy to fix if a product is perished to look and work like new is a huge game changer that sustainable companies like Patagonia are offering to consumers through their Worn Wear: Better than New and Returns & Repair programs(Example of recycling).

Hot Spots: Drying, Durability, Recycling

  • Disposal/ Recycle

This ultimately comes down to the raw material’s used. If the material does not lose its form and value if recycled, and that it doesn’t become toxic. Finding ways to use recyclable materials in all products would be a huge boost and sustainable.

Hot Spots: Using Recyclable Resources


  • A product that doesn’t need to be washed all the time
    • Air dry your clothes!
  • Can be recycled/ comes from a renewable feedstock
  • Is manufactured in a factory that is efficient with its use of energy
    • runs on solar power

Examples of businesses taking advantage of deficiencies and making them adept:

  • Raw Materials: Over the las 100 years, the number of farms have decreased but the size of farms have exponentially increased. This is due to mass production farming methods that we have used that have depleted nutritious soil and polluted water systems by using ample amounts of pesticides and chemicals. Local farms are GREAT, they want the land to last and provide the best product they can, also minimize Transportation costs and emissions (*see transportation)
  • Manufacturing: Tesla’s Gigafactory
  • Washing:
    • Ably Apparel:Clothes that repels liquids, Stains, and Odors.
      • How it works: Filium is a technology that doesn’t use nano-technology or damaging chemicals that may be harmful. It wicks away odors even when you sweat in the shirt; sweat isn’t actually what creates the odor, its the bacteria that locks into the shirt and grows, Filium repels sweat thus not allowing bacteria to lock on and grow on your clothing.
      • How it helps: The huge impact of the energy used to wash and dry clothes is now minimized with this product that hardly ever requires washing.
  • Recycling/ waste management: Nike Flyknit
    • Nike turns a recycled polymer into a string and uses it to knit a shoe. The knitting process of making the shoe requires less energy and chemicals than the typical shoe making process by not requiring glue and using the same material for the whole shoe; altogether the flyknit technology produces on average 60% less waste than cut and sew processes. The shoe is also very light and form fitting to ones foot.
  • Dying: Colorzen
    • Is a more improved way of dying cotton that uses 75% less energy to perform, 90% less water, and no toxic chemicals!
  • Transportation:
    • Nikola: Electric semi trucks
    • Autonomous electric trucks:
      • Will be able to take most efficient  routes going the most energy efficient speed that minimize cost, damage on the vehicle, and time!

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