Ably Sustainable Clothing Dresses Down Global Warming – Forbes
Innovative fashionistas are seriously looking at the garment industry’s role in environmental pollution and climate change. A new Seattle-based apparel company, named Ably, is driven by the idea that what we wear shouldn’t hurt the planet.
This is not a niche issue. The apparel industry accounts for over 10% of global carbon emissions and remains the second largest industrial polluter, topped only by the petroleum industry.
About four million people are employed in the U.S. fashion industry in total. The average household in America spent almost $2,000 last year on apparel and footwear, giving us quite a carbon footprint.
This shouldn’t be surprising since clothing is a $3 trillion global industry. And it will keep growing.
The population on Earth is growing to 10 billion people by mid-century and everyone needs clothes.
Presently, the United States is the largest importer of garments in the world. And nearly 40% of apparel products sold in the United States are imported from China. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 13.1 million tons of textiles are trashed each year in the United States, but only 15% are donated or recycled.
Washing and drying a load of laundry every two days produces roughly 970 pounds of CO2 per year. If you multiply that number by all of the people in the world doing laundry, then you’re left with billions of tons of carbon dioxide emitted to the world’s atmosphere every year.
Ably thinks we can cut that in half.
The basis for Ably’s eco-friendly clothing line is a patent-pending technology called Filium that activates its 100% all-natural cotton. Filium is a process that makes natural fabrics like cotton, wool and silk repel liquids without affecting how soft and breathable they are. This makes Ably apparel incredibly stain and odor resistant, which means clothes stay cleaner and smell fresh for weeks on end.
Yes – you don’t have to wash your clothes for weeks.
“We created Ably and Filium to combat a major problem in our world, pollution,” said Raj Shah, co-founder of Ably and co-creator of Filium. “We know that it’s going to take a lot of change in the industry to slow or reverse the effects of climate change. With that said, if we can arm consumers with the ability to choose to wear high-quality clothing that is long-lasted and sustainably made, then we’re moving in the right direction.”
I saw one person who wore the same Ably shirt for weeks on end and it still wore and smelled great. He even dumped salsa on it and it just wiped off perfectly.
This is very important since the average cotton garment has an average life of about 40 washes. So this new material will increase its lifespan at least ten times. Washing in cold water extends the life even more.
Ably clothes also hang dry really fast and wrinkle-free so you don’t have to use the drier either, saving more electricity and extending the cloth’s life even further.
So less loads of laundry means less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, less water and electricity usage, and less effluents that are released into our lakes, rivers, oceans and streams.
Filium is completely safe and doesn’t use nanoparticles or harmful chemicals that can break down and leach into your skin or the environment, making it a breakthrough that could have a huge impact on the planet by reducing waste and wash cycles.
Dyeing, printing and bleaching textiles involve huge amounts of energy and chemicals along the entire manufacturing line. In fact, a quarter of all chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles. China produces 53% of the world’s textiles, and discharges about 40% of all dyeing chemicals worldwide.
Other liquid-repelling fabrics are made with petroleum-based synthetic materials, like nylon and polyester, which just uses more petroleum and energy, so having a cotton with the same characteristic is an even better way to reduce your carbon footprint.
A few other garment eco-facts to think of:
- Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.
- More than 150 billion garments are produced annually, enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet, every year.
- Americans throw away about 70 lbs of clothing per person every year.
- Fast fashion garments, which we wear less than 5 times and keep for 35 days, produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year.
- Cheap synthetic fibers also emit gasses like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging than CO2.
- Over 70 million trees are logged every year and turned into fabrics like rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell.
Dr. James Conca is an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, a planetary geologist, and a professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at Amazon.com