How Designers Can
Fight Climate Change

looking through fabrics

Although consumers and manufacturers have begun paying closer attention to sustainability, production and consumption of textiles and apparel still creates an enormous amount of pollution and fiber waste. Globally, we have not come close to achieving the recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations.

Dr. Imran Islam and Dr. Preeti Arya, assistant professors of Textile Development and Marketing at FIT, are conducting research aimed at meeting the IPCC’s recommendation of reducing GHG emissions—by creating a guidebook to help designers and manufacturers better understand and make more informed decisions in choosing textile fibers.

Major textile and apparel firms are taking more active roles in mitigating the environmental pollution resulting from current production and distribution methods, positioning themselves as major players to combat global climate change. To avert crisis, the IPCC recommends keeping the global temperature increase below 3.6° F (2° C) through a 45% reduction of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Meeting this recommendation to curb rising temperatures would mitigate extreme weather, rising sea levels, and Arctic ice melt. According to the IPCC, the global sea rise by 2100 would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. Despite this goal, the demand for synthetic fibers (e.g. polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc.) has been on a constant rise and continues to increase, induced by the growing clothing consumption by 2030. Because of the low production cost and easy maintenance of synthetic fibers, they represented over 60% of global fiber consumption in 2020.

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