Conventional Product

By Emma L and Moran


Conventionally, textiles that have the worst environmental impacts are the ones most frequently used in the making of clothing, despite their negative impacts. These fibers have been man-made in high energy factories and are drenched in chemicals during the process. Not only do these toxic chemicals get absorbed into your system but they also leak into the environment, leaving negative impacts on groundwater, wildlife air and soil that are irreversible.

Circle scarfs, like any other article of clothing, can be made from a variety of different materials; synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic and nylon are among the many textiles used, all of which contributing to the environmental down-fall, more than you may be care to be aware of. Although, it's not just synthetic fibers... clothing can, and is, also commonly created from some natural fabrics which, against popular belief, can actually be equally as damaging to the environment as synthetic fibers. These environmental impacts are derived from organic materials such as cotton fiber which is created from the worlds most pesticide intensive crop, cotton. These pesticides are harmful enough to injure and kill several people a year. Herbicides, also used in cotton fabric, add to the toll on the environment as well as human health. These chemicals do not diminish over time, and are released during the garments lifetime.

chemical and physical properties:

Focusing in on polyester fiber as our main synthetic textile, and cotton as our main organic textile, we have put a list together of some of the fibers chemical and physical properties:

  • Polyester
    • hydrophobic: yes
    • Shrinkage in Boiling Water: moderate
    • Softening temp : 230-240 degree C
    • Melting point : 260-270 degree C
    • Effect of Sunlight : turns yellow, retains 70-80% tenacity at long exposure
    • Resistance to Weathering: good
    • Rot Resistance: high
    • Acid Resistance: excellent
    • Organic Chemical Resistance: good


    • Color: white or creamy white
    • Shrinkage in Boiling Water: High
    • Melting Point: 150˚C
    • Strength: moderate-tenancy of 3-5 gm/den
    • Effect of Heat: burns in air, begins to turn yellow at 120 C
    • Effect of Sunlight: turns yellow, loss of strength
    • Effect of Age: Small loss of strength
    • Acids Resistance: excellent
    • Organic Chemical Resistance: moderate, dissolved by copper complexes

    manufacturing processes and energy sources:

    Textile production has been at the center of the evolution of manufacturing from very early times, and undoubtedly is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses. The textile manufacturing industry is based in the conversion of fiber into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. This process encompasses many diverse processes that rely heavily on the use of water, energy, chemicals, and other resources, contributing to a significant amount of pollution. Annual global textile production has been estimated at 60 billion kilograms of fabric, and the estimated amount of energy and water needed to produce that amount of fabric is not comforting: approximately 1,074 billion kWh of electricity or 132 million metric tons of coal and between 6–9 trillion liters of water. Dyeing alone can account for most of the water used in producing a garment. Cloth is often bleached using dioxin-producing chlorine compounds. And virtually all poly-cotton (especially bed linen), plus all ‘easy care’, ‘crease resistant’, ‘permanent press’ cotton, are treated with toxic formaldehyde (also used for flameproofing nylon). Polyester and conventional cotton, two of the worlds most common fabrics weigh in at number one and number two on the worlds most environmentally damaging textiles with 9.52 Kilograms of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber for polyester and 5.90 for conventional cotton.

    The video displayed below demonstrates how fabric is created in a factory:

    How It's Made Fabrics

    waste materials or by-products:

    • unfixed dye often washes out of garments, and can end up coloring the rivers, as treatment plants fail to remove them from the water. Dye fixatives – often heavy metals – also end up in sewers and then rivers
    • Commercial dyes and bleaches are harmful pollutants and can ultimately contaminate groundwater.
    • An estimated 13.1 million tons of textiles were generated in 2010, or 5.3 percent of total municipal solid waste (MSW) generation.


    When transported to the fabric or garments final destination, it is often carried in hanging bags, or else is transported in cartons. Hanging garments must be inserted into tight-fitting individual dust covers, sealed at the bottom. When clothing is shipped in folding cartons, it is essential, for the folding cartons to be lined with tissue paper. Once the garment of fabric has arrived at its destination where it will be sold, it is sometimes, though not always, kept in plastic to prevent damage. Although many articles may not be directly packaged before purchase, they will most likely be placed in a plastic bags upon purchase.

    end of life fate:

    Have you ever stopped to wonder where all your old clothes from the entirety of your life have ended up? You may not have realized it but the result is quite shocking. All those old clothes have ended up in disposal, involves incineration, yet another process that releases harmful emissions into our own planet. Current records show that an estimated 15% or clothes are recycled, meaning that a shocking 85% of clothing materials end up in landfills.

    relative "green-ness", desirability, pricing and marketing strategies of the conventional product:

    Conventional fabrics and fibers each have their pros and cons when compared next to the green products available in the market. Consumers in today's economy are always looking for a good deal but it is important to remember that our environmental impacts can not go unnoticed.

    • Conventional products are typically cheaper when compared to the green products.
    • Green products tend to be more durable and have a longer life span than the conventional products
    • Conventional products are still more popular than the green products
    • Society is beginning to take responsibly for their environmental impact and are slowly switching over to greener products (Such as textiles and fabrics)