Climate change hurts everyone, what we wear can make a difference.
Fashion is constantly changing – but the industry itself is not. The consumption of clothing textiles has doubled in the last 15 years. Most of it ends up in landfills or is incinerated. This is a valuable resource. Meanwhile, the textile industry is one of the main contributors to global pollution and actively fuels climate change.
The production phase is – apart from the most obvious abuses – also the phase in which textiles have the greatest CO2 impact. This phase includes the production of the fibre, the spinning of the yarn, the production of the textile, the dyeing and finishing and the sewing of the garment. About 70-80% of CO2 equivalents are generated in production – the individual steps between fibre, textile and garment are therefore particularly important as they have the greatest potential for improvement.
Above all, fresh water consumption is extremely high in production. For example, around 2600 litres of water are used to grow cotton for a T-shirt. The production of synthetic fibres, on the other hand, is associated with high emissions, since petroleum is already used in production and the energy input is about 40 % higher.
Spinning the yarn produces further emissions – and also the first waste. About 8 % of the cotton fibres and 0.5 % of the synthetic fibres are already sorted out in the first step. The first paraffin and oil wastes are also produced.
Weaving or knitting the textile surface is a very energy-intensive process. The electricity for this production step is usually generated from natural gas or lignite.
In the dyeing and finishing process, water treatment plants can reuse up to 90 % of the water consumed – but it is different in industry. Here, the environment is mainly polluted by chemicals and bleaching agents.
The last part of production, making up, is especially waste-intensive. Between 15 and 20 % of the textiles are waste and are disposed of.
But there are other grievances – namely the working conditions in the so-called sweatshops. In addition to inhumane wages, forced and child labour, accidents occur time and again, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013, in which 1134 people lost their lives. Customers of this factory included Benetton, Primark, KIK and Zara.
Trade & Sale
Trade is efficient, at least as far as material waste is concerned. Here, only about 1% of the material is disposed of. However, indirect emissions are caused by transport from production to the point of sale, storage and employee trips to the store. Studies estimate that about 3 kg of CO2 are emitted per T-shirt. Transport from Asia by sea accounts for about 50% of the emissions.
Usage includes, among other things, the consumer’s journey to the point of sale – but also the life of the textile and the washing cycles. On average, a shirt is worn about 22 times and washed about 11 times.
Contrary to popular belief that washing clothes accounts for a large part of the textile’s ecological footprint, washing, drying and ironing only account for about 3%. However, another danger is hidden in the washing machine and the use phase: textiles made of synthetic man-made fibres lose up to 5% of their weight in the wash and in use over their lifetime in the form of microplastic fibre debris. According to projections, up to 400 tonnes of microplastics from clothing end up in the oceans. And this happens every year, in Germany alone.
In addition, consumers also come into direct skin contact with chemicals at this stage, which can cause allergic reactions. While these are well documented, concerns are also mounting about carcinogenic mutagens and other toxic substances in textiles produced by the fast-fashion industry.
Only about 1% of the clothes that are disposed of end up in recycling plants. The rest is often burned to produce thermal energy or shipped to huge landfills, mostly in Southeast Asia. Most textiles are disposed of before their actual technical lifespan – the fast fashion industry is therefore producing newer and newer textiles at an ever faster pace with increasingly shorter technical and practical lifespans. Overall, 20% of global production waste comes from the textile and clothing industry.
To ensure ecological, social and ultimately economic sustainability, we as Team Texturelab actively pursue product development along the entire value chain. Revenues are invested directly in research and transparency is a top priority for us. A life cycle analysis regarding the impact on our planet and our society is planned for 2023, so that both the environmental costs and the actual costs of our products can be visualised and transparently communicated to you, our customers.
Texturelab focuses on innovative fibres and gives new ideas a space in which they can develop freely. This starts with the fibre – here we only source raw materials from Europe that are sustainably grown or have already been recycled.
We mainly use fibres that are produced in a closed system and from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees, which grow faster, require no pesticides, less space and, above all, significantly less water than cotton. When cotton is replaced by a viscose-based fibre, water consumption is reduced by about 90%. Here we rely on fibres by Lenzing from our Neighbour Country Austria. Transparently, the first image is the sustainable forest stand and the second image is the fibre from Lenzing.
The spinning of the yarn, as well as the entire production of the textile, takes place in Europe. This is more expensive, but short transport routes, healthy working conditions and fair payment can only be guaranteed in this way. At the same time, we are researching our own yarn composition and possibilities to dye for our coloured textiles already in this step: studies have already indicated that this can save up to 75% of the water used in production.
Because the fibres are homogeneous among themselves, no fibres need to be sorted out and even the waste from making up can be 100% recycled.
During the production of the textile surface before making up, we can control from which sources the electricity for the energy-intensive production step comes, because the production is located in Europe. If renewable energy is used throughout the production process, GHG emissions in production can be reduced by up to 91%.
Trade & Sale
We are working on various systems to minimise emissions in and to trade. On the one hand, we can rely on shorter and more efficient transport routes. Due to the Eurocentric production, the logistical challenge is less than in a global value chain.
But it is much more important to extend the life of the textile. Here we are working on a subscription system that both ensures that you as a customer have a wide choice of clothing and that our T-shirts can be recycled. This means that worn products can be returned to us, refurbished and, if still in good condition, reused second-hand at a reduced price.
By selling online, Texturelab is able to cut greenhouse gas emissions by three times, water pollution by half and drinking water consumption and land use by four times when the system is fully utilised.
Since the use phase includes transport, we rely on DHL’s „Green Logistics“ service here. Here, the final transport will take place with bicycles or electric vehicles.
Another improvement by Texturelab: because we have set ourselves the goal of doing without plastic, no microplastics are produced by washing our clothes. So the washing can be done „worry-free“.
The fabrics we use are inherently antibacterial and good for allergy sufferers. Texturelab also does not use any harmful chemicals and is transparent with the co-formulants in the finishing process.
Texturelab is working on making the textiles also bio-compostable to counteract the waste problem of the textile industry. This would put the raw materials back into the biological cycle – in line with the cradle-to-grave idea.
The preferred alternative, however, is the cradle-to-cradle approach: if a Texturelab textile can no longer be reprocessed, it can be completely recycled by us and become a new garment. Thus, no resources are lost and the textile gets a new life. The energy expenditures are borne by renewable energies in a closed system – thus no new emissions are generated.
The unavoidable emissions are regulated through membership of 1% for the Planet and carbon offsetting. For example, one beech tree binds about 12.5kg of CO2 annually. Accordingly, we commit ourselves to planting one tree for every 10 T-shirts produced – thus we manage to achieve a positive, instead of a negative eco-balance.
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We look at the textile industry from different angles and can thus best assess it.
Co-Founder & CMO – connects communication to the product.
Co-Founder & CEO – workaholic and full-time environmentalist.
Co-Founder & CDO – Retail Designer & Tailor with a keen eye on product development and design.
We want to be a symbol for the technologised and green structural change and drive it forward. As a company, We want to find innovative solutions and expand our brand portfolio to have the greatest possible ecological, economic and social impact.
before July 2019
It all started in Martin’s garage. There we worked on our idea for a long time and spent a lot of time together as a team, which welded us together.
July 2019 - October 2020
At that time, we did most of our conceptual design for Texturelab on the SMS Businesspark site – a centrepiece of Mönchengladbach’s textile history in the form of an office sponsorship.
Our next milestone was both the official founding of Texturelab UG by co-founders Martin, Henrik and Max and the grown business idea, as well as moving into Mönchengladbach’s start-up incubator Blauschmiede, a self-sufficient and energy-efficient business building.
Shortly afterwards, we opened our showroom „The LAB“ in the heart of Mönchengladbach’s old town – on Waldhausenerstraße 49.
In November, Team Texturelab was awarded the NRW Founder’s Scholarship.