Building Green's Brent Ehrlich gives five tips for making responsible design choices in the latest issue of Environmental Building News.

The reality is that the global textile industry has one of the worst environmental and social-equity records of any industrial product. Considerations when selecting fabrics include the materials and chemicals that go into fiber production and finished fabrics, water pollution and other life-cycle concerns, the problematic chemistry of surface treatments, and performance standards and certifications used in the industry.

To improve the sustainability of contract textiles:
  • 1) Avoid PVC. Vinyl can pose environmental problems throughout its life cycle.

  • 2) When using natural fibers, choose organic. We recommend choosing those certified Cradle to Cradle Gold or by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), when possible.

  • 3) When using synthetic textiles, choose recycled content. Some biobased plastics, such as biobased Xorel (which is used in place of PVC), can be a reasonable option. The use of post-consumer plastic keeps bottles and carpet waste out of landfills and the environment, and recycling reduces energy and fossil fuel consumption.

  • 4) Consider recyclability. Though there is limited recycling of textiles, selecting textiles that don’t blend natural and synthetic fibers and those that don’t use one fiber and a disparate backing will help the recyclability of these materials at the end of their lifespans.

  • 5) Avoid surface treatments. The chance of human exposure to hazardous chemicals increases with surface treatments, which also have a higher risk of finding their way into the environment.

Read the full article on Building Green.

Product Spotlight
To learn more about the Biobased Xorel fabrics mentioned in this Building Green article, click image below.

Biobased Xorel