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Plastic microfibre pollution is getting worse

The fashion industry must do more to tackle plastic pollution, Friends of the Earth said as it published new figures highlighting the sector’s significant contribution to the problem.

The environmental campaign group says clothes washing in the UK is estimated to generate around 4,000 tonnes of plastic microfibre pollution every year – of which 1,600 tonnes could be ending up in our rivers and estuaries.

The call coincides with a new survey, showing that most people aren’t aware that much of our clothing is plastic-based. The Friends of the Earth-commissioned YouGov poll found that only 45% of the public know that new clothing can often be made from, or contain, plastic. Friends of the Earth is urging the public to embrace slow fashion by choosing fewer, more durable clothing items made from sustainable material.

Plastic microfibres in clothing

As much as two thirds of clothing could be made from synthetic plastic material, such as polyester, acrylic or polyamide. When these plastic-based clothing items are washed they shed millions of tiny microfibres. It has been estimated that up to 17 million microfibres could be released by an average full washing machine wash.

These microfibres are so tiny that they can be mistaken for food by some of the smallest creatures in the ocean, which are then consumed by larger creatures as part of the food chain that much of our planet’s ocean and terrestrial life depends on.

Tsunami of plastic pollution

“The fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution, shedding tonnes of tiny plastic microfibres into our oceans via our washing machines every year,” said Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Emma Priestland. “These fibres are so small that they pass through water treatment facilities and end up in the food chain when they are swallowed by small creatures in our seas. The industry must help stop this tsunami of plastic pollution.”

“Eco-conscious shoppers can play their part by embracing slow fashion and choosing better quality, less-polluting clothes or buying vintage items. Ultimately, to end the plastic pollution crisis, we need government action to phase-out all but the most essential plastics”.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the public to embrace slow fashion rather than fast fashion; and buy fewer, better quality items made with sustainable material instead. The environmental campaign group is also urging the clothing industry to take steps to reduce its contribution to the plastic pollution entering our oceans.

Revolutionary changes with graphene clothing

In the 21st century, advancement in textiles have been directed to the development of smart textiles and E- textiles by employing fibers equipped with specific properties, including the electrical, thermal, waterproof and other technical characteristics.

Several strategies have been developed to fabricate conductive textiles for various purposes. But still now the main obstacle in the development of smart textile is integrating smart devices, conductive materials with fibers, fabric structure and different parts of cloth due to overweight, rigidness, non-resistance to water etc.

Graphene is the thinnest material known to the world and only one atom thick, an atom is a million times thinner than the diameter of a single human hair. It has some amazing properties, it is fantastically strong, very light, extremely flexible, highly transparent and it conducts electricity and heat better than almost any other material. This new material of the future will revolutionize all sectors, including the textile sector, both from the technical point of view and from the design of intelligent clothing.

It can be applied in smart textile temperature sensors, electrical sensors and can replace synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon), due to the lightness, greater elasticity and greater conductivity. It can also reduce weight in clothes, and decrease the storage volume of them. The graphene fibers can be used to introduce chemical sensing properties into textile materials by means of a screen printing method.

Graphene has already made a huge blast in the next step of wearable technology. Recently, researchers teamed up with a wearable technology company to unveil the world’s first Light Black Dress (LBD) containing graphene at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. The dress has changed color in sync with the wearer’s breathing, using tiny LED lights where graphene was used to power the LED lights and as a sensor to record the wearer’s breathing.

Due to the thermal conductive properties of graphene, the warmth produced by the human body is preserved and distributed evenly in cold climates and allows an even body temperature during physical activity.

Graphene has also strong cytotoxicity towards bacteria. So, this can be highlighted for maternity clothes to create coatings that prevent the growth of bacteria on the surface of the fabrics, thus protecting the pregnant against possible diseases transmitted by bacteria. This type of protection will be very useful in gynecologists, nurses and midwives clothing who assist the birthing woman in order to avoid spreading bacterial infections in newborns.

Tetex ABCs: Linen

Flax is known for its health properties, but it is also an excellent quality fabric of natural origin, called linen. How is linen fabric produced? What are its advantages and disadvantages?

What is flax?

Flax is a plant that occurs in numerous places on Earth. Also in Poland, you can meet as many as 6 species of this plant, of which common flax is the most important. It comes from the Middle East and for thousands of years provides material for textiles, and its seeds (commonly called linseed) show a lot of positive healing properties. Due to the fact that flax belongs to oilseeds, it is possible to produce oil from its seeds, which is considered one of the healthiest. It is a treasury of many vitamins and minerals, which certainly can not be missed in the daily diet.

If it creases – it’s linen

Linen is a proven and valued material. Linen fabrics have many great properties. It is greatly appreciated for being natural and therefore safe. Linen fabrics are great for people who care for a healthy lifestyle, compatible with nature and ecology. It is perfect for special tasks, where reliability and safety count. It exhibits antiallergic effects, thanks to which people suffering from allergies can reach for it. The advantage of the material is not only the elegant appearance, but also its properties. The linen perfectly dissipates heat, permeates the air and absorbs moisture, which makes it a hit fabric every summer. Who does not like creases, should rather decide on mixed fibers with an admixture of cotton.

Pros and cons of linen

Linen clothes have many advantages. First of all, this material is light and airy. It is also hygroscopic, which means that linen well absorbs moisture away from the body. Linen products can be used for many years, because this material is much more durable than other fabrics. However, linen also has disadvantages. The biggest of them is big creasing. It was also recognized that flax fabrics are rough and stiff. This is the past now, because nowadays the fabrics are washed and softened, thanks to which they are nice to touch.

The use of fabrics

Each part of the flax found its usage over time: the middle part of the stem is used to produce high quality worsted yarns, warp and then fabrics. The apical and root part is used for the production of weft carded yarns. Linseed flax in combination with adhesives can be used as flaxboard, wood-based materials similar to chipboard.

Are we closer to colonising Mars?

EPFL scientists have mapped out the steps required to build a self-sustaining research base on Mars that would be habitable for the long term. Their work can help researchers set priorities for space programs exploring Mars as well as the solar system as a whole.

The research base would consist of three modules: a central core, capsules and a dome. The central core would be 12.5 meters high and five meters in diameter, and would house the minimal living space as well as everything the crew needed to live. The three capsules would be built around the minimal living space and serve as airlocks between that space and the exterior.

Robots would set up these structures during the first phase of the mission. The dome would cover the entire base and would be made of polyethylene fiber covered with a three-meter thick layer of ice – creating a kind of igloo. The dome would also represent an additional living space, provide a second barrier to protect the crew against radiation and micrometeoroids, and help keep the pressure constant inside the base.

Once the robots have scoped out the site and created a safe place for humans, a six-person crew would start their journey to the Red Planet. This would ideally take place during the polar summer, when the crew could soak up 288 straight days of Martian sunlight. They would obviously need to pack lots of essentials to get them through the long summer, like non-perishable food, batteries, and reactors that can turn Mars’ natural elements, like thorium, into power. And after living on the base for about nine months, the crew would make their way back home — marking the first round-trip, crewed-mission to Mars.

“We would need to conduct an initial mission to try everything out for the first time. And the better that initial mission is thought out, the faster we will be able to get things going and move on to colonization,” says Anne-Marlene Rüede, lead author of the study and a student minoring in Space Technology at EPFL’s Space Engineering Center. In reality, the scientists have not taken a stance on the prospect of colonizing Mars. But one of the key benefits of this research is that the systems it envisions could be used for robotic missions in general, whether Martian, lunar, terrestrial or otherwise.

Textile thinking for new ways of living

What has fungi got to do with architecture? Or what if we could digitally change the colours or patterns of our clothes, instead of buying new ones? The ArcInTexETN project, funded by the EU, has reached its halfway stage and the PhD students are in the midst of processing their research questions.

ArcInTexETN is a project funded by the EU and it aims to strengthen the foundations of design for more sustainable forms of living by connecting architecture, interaction, design and textiles. By the end of 2016 the ArcInTexETN will be midway through the project. Representatives from the European Commission visited Borås in November for a midterm meeting and they are content with the progress. Research results are starting to evolve.

“In this project, we can perceive the future,” says Mervi Himanen, Expert Evaluator from the EU who has a solid academic background in both textiles and architecture as well as engineering and computer science. There are 15 young PhD students from all over the world enrolled in the ArcInTexETN project. Their backgrounds are from the fields of architecture, textiles, fashion or interaction design.

The research is cross disciplinary since the PhD students collaborate in three research groups – the scale of the building, the scale of the interior and the scale of the body — and each group consists of persons with different backgrounds. This means that they are working both on their individual theses as well as collaborating within their research groups. The ArcInTexETN is also cross disciplinary in the sense that it is a European Training Network, which means that it is a network with great mobility — the PhD students travel around the world in order to both educate themselves and to contribute to others with their knowledge.

“We are pioneers in our field of research since we are developing a new model of nomadic PhD training,” says Lars Hallnäs, Project Coordinator and Professor at the Swedish School of Textiles, and he continues: “We form a highly trained avant-garde in artistic research.”

“I believe that the future of fashion is dynamic and adaptive, both in the way it is made, as well as in the way clothing acts on the human body.” says Troy Nachtigal.

H&M announces cutting edge technology

H&M group has showcased two new cutting-edge technology features during Stockholm Fashion Tech Talks, a state-of-the-art conference on fashion digitization.

In collaboration with Google, H&M group has developed a voice app for H&M Home in selected markets – one of the first voice applications to ever be released within the fashion- and interior segment. In addition, the H&M group brand Monki has partnered up with HoloMe to explore a unique creation of high definition human holograms in Augmented Reality, which went in test.

“At H&M group we constantly work on innovations that create extraordinary customer experiences. The fashion industry is changing fast and technology is more important than ever as an enabler in adapting to an ever-changing society.” says Elin Frendberg, H&M group Business Development.

H&M HOME STYLIST

H&M group is developing H&M Home Stylist; a voice application from Google Assistant, which provides personal styling suggestions, mood boards and inspiration for every room in the home – all easily accessible when you ask the Google Assistant to talk to H&M Home Stylist on your phone. To make the experience even more personal the application will have an exclusive human voice. The H&M Home Stylist will be tested and developed with input from our customers.

MONKI X HOLOME

Monki and HoloMe have partnered up for an avant-garde test of high-definition human holograms in Augmented Reality, accessible through a smartphone or tablet with minimal data usage, turnaround time, and processing power. Images of nine selected Monki outfits are enhanced with digital effects, allowing the viewer to monitor the garments in great details and experience the holograms as being present in the room.

“The two cases we are announcing and testing are illustrations of cutting edge technology in our field. We are really excited and proud to soon release our first voice stylist for H&M Home and to be able to explore a world with a unique Hologram/Augmented Reality experience for the Monki customer.” said Elin Frendberg.

Pain-relieving yarns for your comfort

TexDel, a biomaterials platform technology company, and Kentwool, a premier wool sock brand, announced today the world premiere of a medicated, pain-relieving sock.

The Kentwool SensationWool sock is available now at www.kentwool.com to consumers who need temporary relief of foot-related aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with strains, sprains, arthritis, bruises, cramps, stiffness or soreness. These unique socks are constructed with Capsaicin-infused yarn by TexDel’s Nufabrx® platform and superfine Merino wool. Nufabrx is a patented biomaterial technology that incorporates active ingredients onto fibers and is programmed for predictable, effective, washable, long-lasting release. The main active ingredient, Capsaicin is widely recognized as a potent and effective topical analgesic.

Nufabrx t-shirt.

Pain-free apparel

“We’re thrilled to work with Kentwool to provide them with Nufabrx yarn for use in their most innovative sock to date,” said TexDel CEO Jordan Schindler. “It’s extremely exciting to be a part of such a ground-breaking consumer product — socks that actively deliver pain-relief while you wear them. We believe clothing will start to care for your body in entirely new ways. We see the day when well-being is simply part of our everyday outfit. Starting today, rather than applying a cream, taking a pill or using a patch, we’ll only need to get dressed.”

“Early consumer trials have shown the SensationWool is a sock customers are excited about and eager to purchase,” said Lauren Hubbard, president of Kentwool Performance Apparel. “We’re thrilled to combine the exceptional technology of Nufabrx with our premium sock design to provide a simple and needed pain relief option to our customers.”

Medicine meets advanced fiber technology

More than 85 percent of adults believe that good health contributes to their definition of overall success, according to a 2017 study from Kantar Futures. Unfortunately, 75 percent fail to maintain their health directions — whether that’s applying a cream every few hours or taking their daily pills. TexDel envisions the next generation of fabric technologies will enable clothing to actively sooth pain, moisturize skin and enhance athletic performance.

The socks that relieve foot pain

For golfers dealing with foot pain, here’s something to try. Last week, Kentwool released a therapeutic sock for foot pain relief called the SensationWool sock.

How does it work?

Well, the sock is made of a combination of superfine Merino wool and Nufabrx nylon infused with capsaicin (an active component of chili peppers) and a synthetic cooling agent. This duo of hot and cold, Kentwool says, “provides temporary relief of foot-related aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with strains, sprains, arthritis, bruises, cramps, stiffness and soreness.” The socks are lab-tested through 30 wash cycles, too, and its components are cosmetic-grade.

“Kentwool socks were born out of a desire to keep customers comfortable, helping them to pursue the activities they love with less pain and more enjoyment,” said Lauren Hubbard, president of Kentwool Performance Apparel. “The SensationWool is an extension of that commitment to comfort, taking the proven performance properties of wool and coupling them with the power of Nufabrx technology. The socks’ warming and cooling sensations deliver pain relief without the mess and inconvenience often associated with creams and pills. We’re thrilled to offer our customers an easy and effective way to ease their pain.”

SensationWool socks ($24.99) are available now on kentwool.com, and are available in ankle-height style, natural color and the following sizes: women’s medium and large, and men’s medium, large and extra-large sizes.

Hats that cool your head

A new line of hats made with brrr°® cooling technology by The Game® will keep athletes and consumers cooler and more comfortable than ever before.

The Game makes custom designed headwear for universities, schools, community teams and recreation leagues for players of all ages, and will offer hats made with brrr° technology through its website and catalog starting this summer.

brrr° technology has three unique cooling effects that immediately and continually move heat away from your body. brrr° combines natural cooling minerals with active wicking and rapid drying technologies to create a “Triple Chill Effect™” that won’t ever fade or wash out. The material also offers maximum UV protection and it’s hypoallergenic.

“We’re excited that this cooling technology by brrr° can help keep athletes more comfortable so they perform their best, on the field and off,” said Chad Kennedy, National Sales Manager at The Game.

The superior cooling and drying capabilities of brrr° fabric are lab tested and validated by internationally recognized independent labs.

“It’s great to bring brrr°’s proven cooling performance technology to headwear through this partnership with The Game,” said Mary-Cathryn Kolb, Founder and CEO of brrr°, who has worked in the apparel industry for more than 15 years and was formerly an executive at Spanx and TOMS shoes. “This is a great example of how brrr° can be integrated with a variety of fabrics that we touch and use in our everyday lives.”

brrrº is revolutionizing the fabrics we touch every day. They have product specialists on two continents committed to putting the unique versatility and cooling power of brrr°’s fabric technology to work in the world’s most popular brands. They are pioneers in fabric innovation. From button-down shirts to car seat covers and yoga pants, their team is relentlessly focused on developing new custom fabric technologies that improve form and function to keep consumers more comfortable than ever before.

Cotton + Corn Reebok sneakers

Sportswear brand Reebok has revealed the first product from its sustainability initiative Cotton + Corn — a pair of trainers with a bioplastic sole.

Environmental impact

Reebok launched the Cotton + Corn initiative last year to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, starting with finding an alternative to the petroleum-based rubber and foam soles that are used in footwear.

“Most athletic footwear is made using petroleum to create synthetic rubber and foam cushioning systems,” said Reebok innovation head Bill McInnis. “With 20 billion pairs of shoes made every year, this is not a sustainable way of making footwear.”

“We thought ‘what if we start with materials that grow, and use plants rather than oil-based materials?’,” he continued.

The NPC UK Cotton + Corn sneaker is one of the results. It features a sole made from corn, while its insole is derived from castor bean oil, and the upper woven from 100 per cent cotton. A total of 75 per cent of the sneaker is bio-based content, as certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). McInnis says the shoe has undergone rigorous testing and development, and “performs and feels like any other shoe”.

Bio-based plastic

DuPont Tate & Lyle’s 100 per cent bio-based material Susterra propanediol is used in the NPC UK Cotton + Corn’s sole. The material is entirely petroleum-free and non-toxic. “The NPC UK Cotton + Corn is the only footwear product on the market that has been certified as containing 75 per cent USDA-certified bio-based content,” said McInnis. “And this is just the start for us. We are on an ongoing path to create a different type of footwear — so that you can feel good about what you’re wearing and where it came from.”

Bio-based plastics are an area of rapid research and development. Recently, designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros made a bioplastic made from algae, while Studio Nienke Hoogvliet used a wastewater-based plastic in its biodegrade cremation urn.

Others are working with recycled plastic in a bid to decrease from 12 billion tonnes the plastic waste the earth is expected to hold by 2050.

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