Colour is a catalyst for sales success within the fashion industry; it is the first thing consumers notice about a garment. Before feeling the Dyeing Fabrics, trying on for size, or considering the manufacturing processes, colour preference impacts the eye. According to Michael Braungart and William McDonough, on average, only 5% of the raw materials involved in the production and delivery processes is contained within a garment. It is therefore important that we also pay attention to the 95% of the material process that we do not see; a vast component of which is hidden water.
Thick, ink-like water flows through rivers surrounding garment factories; a toxic soup of chemicals discarded from the fashion industry’s synthetic dye processes, filtering into the water systems of the planet. Why is colour – this fundamental component of fashion production – allowed to pollute water systems throughout the world? As much as 200 tonnes of water are used per tonne of fabric in the textile industry. The majority of this water is returned to nature as toxic waste, containing residual dyes and hazardous chemicals. Wastewater disposal is seldom regulated, adhered to or policed, meaning big brands, and the factory owners themselves are left unaccountable. Examples of synthetic dyes are disperse, reactive, acid and azo dyes. Natural dyes, meaning colour obtained from naturally occurring sources – are another source of colour for textiles, but these are rarely employed on industrial scales.
Azo dyes are a commercially popular colourant for textiles. They are popular because they can be used at lower temperatures than Azo-free alternatives, and achieve more vivid depths of colour. But some are listed as carcinogens, and under certain conditions, the particles of these dyes can cleave (producing potentially dangerous substances known as aromatic amines). Upon contact with the skin, these can be harmful to humans and pollute water systems. Legislation exists in certain countries, including EU member states and China, that prohibits the sale of products containing dyes that can degrade under specific test conditions to form carcinogenic amines, but low traces of these amines have still been found in garments.
There are a number of key differences between cotton and linen. They include:
Durability. Cotton has a little more stretch and flexibility than linen but is not as durable. Finer cotton, like Egyptian cotton, is made from long-staple cotton fibers, which makes this cotton softer and more durable than standard cotton, but still not as durable as linen. Cotton And Linen Fabric is much more rigid but lasts longer because the cellulose fibers in linen yarn are slightly longer and wrapped tighter than those in cotton yarn, which increases its strength and longevity.