SUSTAINABLE FASHION MADE OF WOOD
Today, the clothing industry mainly stands for fast fashion. While the turnover of garments sold worldwide in 2002 was still around 1 trillion dollars, by 2015 it had almost doubled to 1.8 trillion dollars. At the same time, however, the appreciation of clothing fell rapidly. Clothing that is very labour- and resource-intensive is now almost worthless from the buyer's perspective and often disposed of after being worn only a few times.
In our opinion clothing should bring more value once again - with regards to every single step in the production process, but also with regards to the selection of the material to be processed.
With our sustainable fashion from wood, we are breaking new grounds and are showing that clothing can also be produced in an environmentally friendly, local and fair way.
A closer look at the clothing industry of recent years reveals that two raw materials form the basis of today's textile production: polyester and cotton. More than half (60%!) of all fibres used worldwide for clothing are made from synthetics such as petroleum-based raw materials. 25 % of fibres are made of cotton, with organic cotton constituting only about 1 % of this. The remaining 15% of fibres consist of wool, cellulose-based fibres and other natural fibres such as hemp or linen.
The tremendous increase in the consumption of clothing is also increasing the demand for inexpensive raw materials. As a result, the production of synthetic, and thus petroleum-based fibers, has increased as has the use of pesticides and fertilizers in cotton.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY WOOD CLOTHING - WHY WOOD IS A VALUABLE RAW MATERIAL
We obtain the wood for our ecological wood clothing exclusively from certified sustainable forestry. Among others, it comes from Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Contrary to what many people expect, Europe's forests are growing thanks to sustainable forestry. In Germany alone, the forest growth in the last 10 years has been 7%. Throughout Europe, forest area has increased by 17.5 million hectares between 1990 and 2015.
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY MEAN?
Sustainable forest management aims to utilize forests while at the same time protecting them. Forests contribute to the protection of water and soil, as they increase the water storage capacity of the soil with their roots and protect it from erosion. At the same time, forests serve as habitats for a wide variety of animal and plant species. Trees are of course also very important for climate protection. They serve as CO² stores. It is assumed that trees store 49% of global CO². By converting trees into wood products, the CO² they contain remains stored, since it is only released during the biological decomposition of the wood. Thus all wood products contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Every year, this amounts to 105 million tons of CO² equivalents.
With wijld we would like to commit us also in regions of the world where forests are unfortunately not doing so well. That is why we are supporting a reforestation project in Mexico together with our customers.
We are working with a partner who has already planted over 14 billion trees worldwide. We have decided to give something back to nature together with our customers by planting a tree for every order on wijld.com. You can find more information here.
WHY WOOD CLOTHING IS MORE ECOLOGICAL THAN COTTON
In contrast to conventional cotton, the planting of trees makes a significant difference in terms of environmental friendliness. While in forestry no additional fertilisers need to be used to produce the wood fibre, different fertilisers and pesticides are used to grow cotton. The products used, such as aldicarb, have a strong impact on the environment and contribute to freshwater and terrestrial pollution. This pesticide is responsible for more than 80% of the freshwater pollution caused at the cultivated area.
In addition, the high water consumption caused by artificial irrigation of cotton plantations in areas with low rainfall even leads to considerable permanent ecological damage (e.g. the dehydration of the Aral Sea). Trees in our forests do not need this artificial water supply and can also store water longer and in larger quantities than a comparable open spaces.
A further advantage of raw material wood lies in the size of landed needed for cultivation. For the same amount of fibres, the area required for cotton is on average 300 to 500 % larger than for our wood fibres. In addition, the management of forests does not require the creation of land, as is the case with monocultures such as cotton.
HOW DO YOU MAKE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CLOTHES OUT OF WOOD?
The process for producing viscose fibres could probably be described as the ancestor of our fabric and was already developed in the 1890s. The process of viscose production does however have some disadvantages. Carbon disulfide is often used as a solvent, which is harmful to the environment and usually very resource-intensive.
The process we use to manufacture our fibres from wood, on the other hand, is particularly environmentally friendly compared to other cellulose-based regenerated fibres.
As a first step, cellulose is extracted from our raw material wood. The resulting cellulose is now dissolved in organic, environmentally friendly “N-methylmorpholine N-oxides (NMMO)” by dehydration without chemical modification. It is important to mention that toxic reagents, such as the above-mentioned carbon disulfide (CS2), are not used during this process. Pulp is then filtered and pressed through spinning glands. The resulting fibres are then precipitated into a bath with aqueous NMMO solution and then combined as a fibre strand.
The solvent can be recycled again and again as it can be easily removed from the fibre due to its excellent water mixing properties. Therefore the organic solvent can be used over and over in a closed material cycle. This makes fiber production very environmentally friendly where valuable resources are saved.
SAVE RESOURCES WITH ECOLOGICAL CLOTHING MADE OF WOOD
How much resources are saved can be seen by comparing the water consumption of cotton production versus the eventual completion of our wood fibre.
In order to produce 1 kg of wood fibre, 0.02 m³ of process water and 0.243 m³ of cooling water is required. However, until a fibre was produced from the cotton plant, only 0.005 m³ process water and 0.037 m³ cooling water were used, but on top another 5.69 m³ water for irrigation only. In addition, 70% of the water used for cotton fibre production comes from groundwater and 30% from surface water. Overall, the water consumption for cotton fiber production is 10 to 20 times higher – even when excluding cooling water this is already 100 to 500 % more than for the wood fibers of our clothing. Finally, most of the water used in the production of our fibers is used for cooling purposes only and is returned to surface water unpolluted.
The energy balance of the manufacturing process of the wood fibre is also impressive. In fact, by the time the fiber is produced, only 0.1 kg of CO² is released per kilogram of fiber produced, whereas cotton production produces 2 kg of CO². Accordingly, the use of wood fibres can reduce CO² emissions by a factor of 20 compared to cotton. It is also important to mention that the energy for wood fibre production is almost exclusively obtained from the use of waste products such as bark and lye. More precisely, 86.3% of the fuels used are not fossil and are CO²-neutral..
With wijld, together with you, we would like to show our partners and customers that special and unique fashion can be produced environmentally friendly, locally and fair. This way we can contribute to protecting the environment and improve the working and living conditions of all people involved. Join us and be part of this mission!