Most cotton production is found in countries where child and forced labor are common practice, also where health and safety regulations are ignored.


These places are typically warm in the Southern US, Uzbekistan, People’s Republic of China, and India.

Cotton itself is a plant that is non-environmentally friendly.



Production of cotton has been claimed responsible for the desertification of the Aral Sea.


It is a thirsty, volatile plant that uses fertilizers and pesticides to grow properly and those chemicals can leak in the soil or water systems causing sickness and disease in the local communities. 



How does this material negatively effect the environment?


Where does it come from?

How is it made?


Countries like Pakistan and the other who are in the 10% are involved in the manufacturing of denim

The cotton is threaded to make a specific weave that threads the denim fabric together.


Warp threads are died using indigo, wefts are left the natural cotton color white. 



The process is very water heavy, uses pesticides, and if they are distressed a process named sandblasting is used which creates health risks for those who are involved creating the jeans.


The water is taken from the countries that work with denim and those countries are 10% of the world’s population that is deprived of clean water. Because it is made from cotton, the pesticides and dying process makes it less sustainable. 


Polyester dominates the industry with production exceeding 22.67 billion tonnes worldwide.


Taiwan, Korea, India, Japan, and Indonesia are the major manufacturers of polyester along with the US.

Polyester is a category of polymers created by mixing ethylene glycol which is petroleum and terephthalic acid which creates a plastic format for designing clothing


Polyester is not biodegradable and the petroleum created from it contributes to the oil manufacturing industry which is the largest pollutant in the world.


The dyes also are not environmentally friendly. The amount of water used can result in reduced access to clean drinking water in low income communities.


Nylon completely originates from a laboratory, and was the first fabric to do so.


Nylon was heavily used around WWII because of its durability and strength on military products, replaced everything silk because of wartime inflation from Asian exports. 

Nylon is a plastic derived from crude oil – coal and pertroleum.


No form of nylon is biodegradable, produces nitrous oxide which is a  greenhouse gas that pollute 300x more than CO2.


Manufacturing nylon requires large cooling amounts of water and uses tons of energy resulting in environmental degradation and global warming. 


Wool comes mostly from sheep on Australian farms.

Wool comes from sheep that produces high lanolin grease that helps protect the sheep’s fleece.



Wool is biodegradable but has a huge impact on the animals it comes from. It is naturally produced, and renewable.


The large scale grazing from sheep causes land clearing and degradation, which could be avoided with proper practices of holistic land management, but are not. 


Leather is processed in developing countries in India, China, and Bangladesh. 

True leather comes from the livestock industry and Vegan leather / pleather are made of plastics.


Processed labor contributes 300 kgs of chemicals for every 900kg of animal hides tanned.


The countries where leather is processed lack the controls necessary to dispose of toxic waste. Producing water requires 17,000 liters of water.


Tanning of leather creates pollutants and health problems for the low-income areas around the factories ultimately leading to skin disease and respiratory illnesses.


Fur farms have been created to distribute fur, dominating the modern fur trade by 2015 at 100 million skins. Fur farming is now banned in the UK, Netherlands and Austria.


Imports of fur are banned in India and mink imports are banned in New Zealand. Chinese fur farms are able to operate unsupervised without regard to animal welfare.


Wild caught animals such as beaver, coyote, muskrat, and raccoons are found in Canada, USA, and Russia. 

Real fur can be made of mink and fox, along with wild beaver, coyote, muskrat, and raccoon.   

Faux fur is made of PVC plastic.



Fur requires high processing and chemical treatments to be manufactured.


Maintenance requires chemicals chromium and formaldehyde to keep the skins alive.


Carbon emissions that are produced from fur farms that produce mink are 5x higher than wool’s emissions. 


Viscose is a sustainable alternative to cotton/polyester because its cheaper and more durable.


Originated in France and developed in Germany. Then the material was patented in Britain.


It is currently made in China, India, and Indonesia. 

The third most used synthetic textile made from trees.

Created by spinning of wood pulp, which releases high pollutants and toxic chemicals like carbon disulphide which links to heart disease, birth defects, skin conditions, and cancer.



Because it is plant based, it wins some points for sustainability, however because its use is frequent manufacturing takes a great deal of energy, water, and chemicals.


Also wood pulp reults in the mass deforestation and has endangered 30% of the world’s ancient forests.


The frequent use mainly is in high demand from fast fashion giants that offer ready to sell clothing every day. 

Stay fashion FORWARD and be environmentally FRIENDLY

© 2020 ForwardFriendly by Tirza Chase 

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