There is always a question about environmental or moral issues and the textile industry on the exam paper. This could cover any of the following areas.

Ethical and Fair Trading

  • To make cheap clothing/products companies have to produce their products abroard where wages are alot less than in the UK
  • Companies should make sure that all areas of manufacturing and production meet certain standards and that poor working conditions and exploitation of workers should not be allowed, including sweat shops and child labour.
  • Fairtrade means that producers get a fair, realistic price for their product that covers the price of producing it.
  • The production of cotton is very hazardous with the use of poisonous pesticides used fequently. The use of these persticides poisons the cotton labourers, even killing some of them. Organic cotton is grown without pesticides so is better for the environment and the workers.

Fairtrade cotton video

Organic cotton and pesticides
Video about child labour
Child labour in India
How High street clothing can be so cheap! BBC Thread

Eco label

  • The European Eco label can be used on products that contain no harmful substances and cause minimum damage to the environment.


  • All textiles products can be recycled by taking them to a Charity shop or collection bin in Recycling Centres. These clothes are often sent for use abroard.
  • Some textiles are recycled and reused for patchwork or rag rugs.
  • Pastic bottles are recycled to produce Polartec Fleece, often used for outdoor clothing.
  • Recycling reduces the need for new materials and reduces waste going to landfill or incinerated.
Eco friendly clothing


  • Textiles companies are trying to reduce the use of packaging in order to make the Textiles industry more environmentally friendly.
  • Packaging should be recyclable or biodegradeable (rot away)

Waste from Textiles Processes

  • Dyeing produces contaminated water and poisinous chemicals, it also uses energy to heat water and power machines.
  • To reduce waste the dying industry could use natural dyes or cold water dyes to reduce chemicals and energy costs.
  • Finishing of fabrics uses alot of different chemical in the processes which are a hazard to the environment.
  • Waste from production processes should be reduced to prevent it going to landfill.

Laundry and Aftercare of Textiles

  • Washing textile products has a hugh impact on the environment - use of energy powering the machines and heating water, detergents going into the drains and chemicals used in Dry cleaning.
  • Solutions are to wash at lower tempretures, avoid dry clean only and to use non bio detergents.
  • You should always buy an A rated washing machine as these are more efficient and save energy.

Transportation Costs

Products made abroad in countries such as India and China have to be shipped back to the UK to be sold. The shipping of these products causes pollution and damage to the environment whether it is by air or sea. Despite the cost of shipping it is still cheaper to produce clothing abroad than in this country.

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