Textile plays an important part in the hospitality industry, whether it be in hotels, with cozy beddings, in restaurants with colourful tablecloths and tissues, or events, especially weddings or festivals.
The textile industry creates million of tons of waste. In the US alone, in 2015, the EPA estimates that 5,5 millions of tons of textil were recovered, but 10,5 millions were sent to landfills. This article aims at giving you some insights on its environmental impact in the hospitality industry, and to give you tips for a more conscious use of textile in your activities.
- The textiles system operates in an almost completely linear way: it requires large amount of water, and non-renewable resources are extracted to produce textils that are often used for only a short time
- The equivalent of 70 showers is required to make a T-shirt and 285 showers for jeans.
- The European Commission mentions that main environmental concern in the textile industry is about the amount of water discharged and the chemical load it carries. Other important issues are energy consumption, air emissions, solid wastes and odour
- ADEME mentions that greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry are higher than international flights and maritime traffic combined.
- Less than 1% is currently being recycled, the real difficulty lies in collecting them.
- In France, when collected, 99,7% of the tissues and clothings are valorised : 58,5% are reused ; 41,2% are recycled ; 8,4% are transformed into Solid Recovered Fuel ; and 0,7% energetically valorised (source Eco TCL, 2017)
- The Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation estimates that more than USD 500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling
Identify: Which are your main sources of textile waste: kitchen, bedrooms, staff uniforms? What do you currently do with them?
Measure / estimate: How many sheets do you buy each year? How many towels are thrown away ?
Check our methodology (step 2: audit your waste and step 8: indicators of impacts)
#1 Buy sustainable fabrics
Prefer natural fibers to synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers are made from petrochemicals which consume more resources and releases microfibers.
Possible if: you find afordable providers. Note that the sustainability of fabrics can vary dramatically depending on how they are blended, dyed, transported, and processed.
Differentiate yourself: by showing that you care.
Cost money: example of price difference for sheets: in cotton 30€, in hempe 170€.
Find the pros and cons of different sustainable textile materials (graded from A to B by Trusted Clothes):
- Tencel A+: biodegradable, circular
- Hemp A+: low maintenance, high yield crop
- Jute A: little water, no chemicals
- Linen A: breathable fabric, but requires more energy
- Bamboo B: fast growing, but requires chemicals
- Organic Coton B: biodegradable, recyclable, but requires lot of water and labour
#2 Rent or
buy second hand
When buying something new take the time to think if it’s really necessary. Renting or buying second hand is a great solution (and specially for events!) to avoid the consumption of new resources
Possible if: Did you know that goodies such as organic cotton bags must be reused at least 149 time to have a positive impact on climate change?
Save money: adapt your purchasing patterns to your uses: is it occasional ? rent ! Are you tight on the budget ? buy second-hand !
Not always possible
- During the Makesense Festival, to dress up the entire festival crew, we got +200 second-hand tee-shirts. We personalised them for the event, thanks to serigraphy (new skills learnt, water and money saved!)
Increase your local anchorage
Cost (some) time: to find an organisation to work with
- Textile waste is a material that is deemed unusable for its original purpose by the owner but can be used by other actors such as art creators, or even individuals:
- In the UK, Redress has created the Eco Chic Design Award, to source textile waste, including secondhand textil waste, such as home furnishing already used.
- La Reserve des Arts, in Paris furnish the art sector with materials, including textils, transforming waste from some to resources for others.
- As some visitors often leave behind them clothes they don’t want to bring back home, and which are thrown away, they can now on leave them in special bags at LUX* Le Morne , and these clothes will be handed over to charity associations of the region for the local community (after being washed by hotel teams).
Gain trust and differentiate yourself.
not always possible
- Collaborating with Air France, SUEZ collected 10 tons of old uniforms (in the first two months of partnership) to reuse and recovery, especially as garments – See video
- In Spain and in Portugal, Cepovett, European leader of professional clothes, has created new aprons for kitchen uses, made of 650 kilos from Novotel hotels recycled textiles
- In France, check on the eco-organism Eco-TLC which are the waste providors that might help you. For professional clothings, such as uniforms, which require more specific treatment (especially in term of security), check the FRIVEP, which is currently being tested and coordinated by OREE
Gain trust and differentiate yourself.
not always possible
- For example, Westin hotels upcycles bed sheets into pyjamas for under priviledges kids. Every year wthey turn over large quantities of bedding due to wear & tear, with the help of Clean the World, a recycling organization
- In France, Techtera has created the club RECIT (Recyclage et Economie Circulaire dans l’Industrie Textile) organised in Lyon a speed-dating event tedicated to upcycling to help producers of textil waste and transformers (company creators, associations…) to meet in order to give a second life to those waste.
- Check with upcycling associations or entrepreneurs, such as Bilum. The French fashion house gives a second life to salvaged or forgotten materials, destined to be thrown away. They design a large collection of bags, accessories…
Finally, if the waste textile cannot be reused, upcycled, or recycled, it can also be valorised energetically: by giving it a second wind in Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) or absorbent products used for co-incineration in cement kilns.
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