The fashion industry has long been at the accusatory forefront of market capitalism; its mass production both feeds and breeds hyper-consumerism, often at the expense of any ethical mindset. If fashion is essentially modern, fast fashion is quintessentially postmodern (Taylor, 2014). Australia has over 680 firms within the TCF (Textile, Clothing Footwear) industry and ranks one of the highest producers of textile waste, accountable for over 568 million kilograms of textile material sent to landfill annually (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Whist one third of the world’s population cannot access clean water; the textile industry is the world’s third largest consumer of water, egregiously expending trillions of gallons each year. Additionally, wastewater containing up to 72 toxic chemicals are discharged into waterways, 30 of which are permanent. It is estimated that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution is a result of textile colouration (World Bank, 2014). Increasing global awareness has resulted however, in the welcomed emergence of innovations positively confronting the issue of sustainability in fashion practices, such as AirDye.
Created by Colorep Inc, a Californian sustainable technology institute, AirDye uses a patented process to colour synthetic fabrics without the use of water. Disperse dyes used for the colouration of synthetic fibres, is first applied onto a paper carrier which is then transferred into the textile surface with heat, fixating the dye at a molecular level. The paper is then recycled and the excess dye can be reused, resulting in little to no wastage.
The benefits of a waterless methodology of textile colouration are endless. The AirDye technology can save up to 95% less water, 86% of energy and 84% of greenhouse gases in comparison to orthodox dye methods. On a single garment, AirDye can save up to 170 litres of water. The technology for required designs is produced quickly with accurate colour matchings in solid colour or prints and does not require production minimums. The removal of water in the dyeing process creates opportunity for textile production in global regions that before lacked the appropriate resources. A widespread adoption of this technology would immensely impact a great deal of consumerist industries, including clothing, footwear, furniture, product, interior and wherever else textiles are utilised.
Critique has been placed that perhaps the recent upsurgence of eco-centric practice in the fashion industry will become yet another ephemeral trend, however companies such as AirDye place hope in its longevity. Appearing eco-friendly could be seen essential for a modern business, however often it may be just that – an appearance. Through inviting third-party investigations to conduct in depth research into their results, AirDye’s claims maintain their validity. Whilst the company operates independently as a business, profits are repurposed into advancing the technology further, optimistically expecting ‘to see additional benefits from increased efficiency in power usage, power source, and the direct application of dye without a carrier.’
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