GRC 2023 Global Essay Competition Top 30
By Saanvi Masalia
The textile sector is experiencing rapid expansion, with an annual production between 80 and 150 billion garments. To quote a statistics from Earth.org, of the 100 Billion garments produced each year, 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. That is almost a rubbish truck full of clothes being dumped every second. The textile waste occupies nearly 5% of the world's landfill space. The average number of times, a garment is worn, has progressively declined over the years, with most of them being used only seven to ten times before being discarded. The throwaway culture has worsened with time. This is partly a function of repeating clothing being frowned upon because social media portrayals are more essential than anything else. What a pity to wear the same outfit to another function! Worse yet, upload a photo with it! We are unaware that our human aspirations have detrimental consequences on our health and the environment.
Textile manufacturing necessitates the use of several resources, such as chemicals, water, and power. The two processes of yarn preparation and fibre production heavily depletes the resources as it extensively dependent upon energy from fossil fuels. A staggering 20% of global clean water pollution is attributed to textile dyeing and finishing products. The dyeing and printing sectors contribute significantly to air pollution, primarily through steam generation using coal and water. Textile chemicals can be hazardous to one's health. Raw materials for the textile industry include crops such as linen, cotton, and hemp, which require a substantial amount of water for the many processes required to produce finished textile products. Cotton, being particularly thirsty, necessitates the use of herbicides and insecticides, further impacting the ecosystem.
Clothing is the basic necessity of Mankind but this fast fashion fad definitely needs to be capped.
While AI is transforming various industries, its potential has yet to be fully harnessed in the textile sector. There is evidence of how AI can positively impact the quality of textile manufactured and bring in efficiency in the various sub-processes such as Design Prediction, Manufacturing and Grading, Quality Control, Supply Chain Management and so on. So why not exploit the super – powerful tool of AI to provide individuals more colour options for the same piece of apparel?
The adoption of this technology could help cut waste. Using AI chips, the fabric, which is knitted using Polymeric Optical Fibres (POFs) and textile-based yarns, may be illuminated in a variety of colours. Colour changes occur at the atomic level as a result of light interacting with electrons in atoms or molecules. Certain wavelengths of light are absorbed by atoms or molecules when they impact an object, while others are reflected or transmitted. The absorbed light energy can drive electrons to hop to higher energy levels, causing the material's colour to shift. This is referred to as an electronic process transition. It is responsible for the sense of colour in a variety of substances. Colour changes occur in many materials and pigments due to a range of atomic and molecular causes. We can use this to develop fibre threads that respond to multi-sensory stimulations. A thin metal micro-wire is weaved into the thread of the cloth. An electric current travels through the micro-wires, slightly boosting the temperature of the thread. Special pigments incorporated in the thread change colour in response to the temperature change.
This innovative technique not only has the potential to reduce demand and production but also encourages the reuse of garments, by allowing people to possess three or four distinct colour options of clothing!
In truth, we should prioritize the concept of reusing garments and disregard social pressures that discourage it. Embracing the idea of wearing the same outfit multiple times, challenges the stigma associated with frequent repetition. If a garment brings joy, there’s no harm in wearing it repeatedly at different events or in quick succession! Until this mind-set change becomes a common norm, AI can dress us up differently using the same garment. Let us move away from the business-as-usual scenario and help curb the global emissions from the Textile Industry.
Martini Igini, https://earth.org/statistics-about-fast-fashion-waste/
Isabelle Juillard Thompsen, https://dnbam.com/en/finance-blog/textile-industry-responsible-for-20-of-global-water-pollution
Iris Groeneveld, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0143720822009214