EcoMetrics is a simple on-line calculator that enables you to compare the environmental impacts of different textile products and processes. If you are pro-environment then EcoMetrics is for you. If you are massively cynical of the green movement then EcoMetrics is for you. And if you are simply confused and want to learn some facts then EcoMetrics is for you.
Information on the environmental impact of textiles is generally available in two forms – scientific studies and subjective marketing information. There are many superb scientific studies on the environmental impacts of textiles but they generally only look at a small sub-section of the industry (maybe a single fibre, or a single process) and they tend to be written by real scientific experts and therefore only fully understood by fellow scientific experts. Also since they are almost always stand alone pieces of work it is almost impossible to compare one study with another.
Marketing information is rarely reliable. It presents a skewed view by using hype, exaggeration and distortions of the truth. Even when information is reasonably well presented a common problem with marketing is that it often only delivers the good news by presenting an exaggerated view of the good news whilst completely ignoring some of the negative aspects of a product or process. There is also information from those with a cause (and a product to sell). This information is often hard hitting but sometimes over-exaggerates a problem and over-exaggerates the benefits of their proposed replacement. Taking something ‘bad’ and making it ‘less bad’ is commendable but doesn’t necessarily make it ‘good’.
All textiles have a negative impact on the environment. Introducing a new eco-brand only has a direct benefit if it replaces ‘normal’ products - every additional textile item manufactures makes the global situation WORSE. If you can replace normal products with lower impact products then the situation will improve.
Textile EcoMetrics has been developed by Colour Connections in order to make objective assessments of products and processes possible by everyone involved in textiles – the web-based interface and simple presentation of results makes it very accessible.
Its core concept is that there are four key environmental impacts associated with textiles:
- Use of non-renewable resources
......and it considers the whole production process too – not just the most marketable bit!
How does it work?
We’ve developed clever units called Environmental Damage Units (EDU’s) that allow you to calculate the total impact for a given product or process. We assign a high score to processes that have a massive impact (for example the water impact for cotton fibre or the use of non-renewable resources for polyester) and a low or zero score where there is low or no impact (such as use of water in yarn spinning).
So how do you compare spinning with dyeing; and fibre production with laundry?
For each stage of production we calculate the total EDU’s using our database of information and then provide a total score.
Users simply select items from drop down menus to build a product or to assess an existing one (Garment type, fibre type, yarn type, fabric weight, dyeing method and finishing method) and press the ‘calculate’ button.