Since much of what we wear today is produced on the other side of the world, and the very complicated production process also indicates that the cotton may bbe grown on one continent, it may have been woven on another, dyed on a third and even stopped by warehouses on several others. Finding the most carbon-emission-friendly transport route can be a challenge.

This is one of the more complicated components of life cycle assessment, since exactly what should be included in transport in relation to a product is debatable and infinite. In textile-production, where there are so many processes and so many components, it is virtually impossible to include all transport in an evaluation. Most people think the only thing to worry about is the transport of finished garments – and of course this makes up only a fraction of the transport figure which could include:

  • Oil from rig to refinery
  • Chemicals from refinery to chemical plants
  • Minerals from mine to chemical plants
  • Fertilizers from chemical factory to farmer
  • Fibres from factory or field to spinner
  • Yarn transport
  • Dye transport
  • Fabric transport
  • Transport of items from shop to consumers home


...and of course collecting the item when it is discarded to transport it to landfill or to a charity who may transport it to another part of the world again for resale.

Most of these points the designer or company has little or no impact on, which is why the concern about transport for the most part centres on transport from factory to company and from company to shops. Where the most important is mode of transport (which means meeting those deadlines) and cooperating with other companies so capacity is maximized.

Try to find combinations of ship and train, rather than ship and road transport. If you end up with road transport, make sure you are using the most eco-efficient type of transport. Production closer to markets has emerged as a post-economic crisis trend. Avoid re-orders that are sent by air-freight.