The water consumption of our closet
The prolonged period of drought we are experiencing in Lombardy brings to mind some considerations that determined the choice of the materials we use.
Here in Como our lake has reached the level below which navigation enters into crisis, the maintenance of walls and docks is at risk and even flora and fauna find themselves having to face a difficult situation for their survival.
It is an extreme situation since the climate of these months is extreme, with prolonged drought and temperatures that are expected to reach over 40°C as of today, when values above the average for the respective periods have already been recorded for many weeks.
We speak from our direct experience here, in Lombardy, but the problem heavily affects the whole of northern Italy and many other Italian and European regions.
In practically all the Municipalities of the Province, ordinances have been issued which aim to limit the use of water resources, prohibiting actions such as watering gardens.
It is easy to understand who those are who think they can consider themselves an exception to this prescription by seeing the luxuriance of some private gardens in recent weeks.
Where civic sense and respect for ordinances – in addition to common sense – have fertile ground, in the gardens you can see sunburnt grass and plants with falling leaves and dried flowers, even for plants exposed only a few hours a day to direct sunlight. sun, as happens with this hydrangea pictured above, in our little garden – the St. John’s Wort and the ivy aren’t doing badly, fortunately.
What this period should teach us is that climate change is a factual reality that is now difficult to deny even by the most convinced deniers, and that water, a source of life, is not a resource that we can take for granted – as we are used to think of us lucky citizens of 21st century Europe.
It is not the intention of the writer to provide a list of virtuous behaviors to follow to avoid waste and excessive consumption, also and above all because those who follow CAMCO are certainly people sensitive to these issues and there would be very little to teach.
The unfortunate opportunity of this emergency situation is taken here only to share the reasoning that was made at the time, when it came to thinking about which fiber to combine with our beloved extrafine, organic and mulesing-free merino wool, so that the resulting fabric was more resistant to loss of shape in the garments in which it would be used, compared to the case of a wool-only fabric.
Bamboo, linen, hemp would have been other alternatives, but for the combination with a fiber classified as “extrafine”, TENCEL™ seemed more suitable, sharing many qualities with merino wool such as softness, breathability, thermoregulation, effective moisture management body, inhibition of the development of bacteria and odors, etc etc…
In addition to this aspect, TENCEL™ has also proven to be the preferable fiber for aspects related to sustainability, including considerations relating to water needs.
If the idea of telling the story of this choice is something inspired by the climate of these days, it is precisely because TENCEL™ was a choice also dictated by the sustainability of the production of this fibre. (Sustainability which is also expressed by the very nature of the fibre, which is certified biodegradable and compostable).
TENCEL™ is the name Lenzing AG gave to its lyocell, which is the generic fiber.
Lyocell is obtained from wood pulp and the choice of the fiber produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG among the various producers has its motivation in the choice of the wood used and in the sustainability of the production process – at levels so high as to be was awarded by the European Commission (European Award for the Environment, category: Technology Award for Sustainable Development”)
The wood used comes from semi-natural forests mainly in Austria and neighboring countries. Sustainably managed forests of beech, spruce, birch, poplar, pine, maple, and plantations, especially of eucalyptus (which “yields” more due to its rapid growth and high cellulose content. With the same surface consumption the eucalyptus yields 5 times the textile fibers of what the same field would yield if cultivated with cotton).
The wood taken is only that which can be replaced with the growth of new plants.
It must always be considered that every textile fiber must come from somewhere and leaving aside synthetic fibers – mostly coming from the processing of oil waste and responsible for a good part of the microplastics that are polluting the oceans – the use of of natural origin that exploit resources that can be regenerated seems the best choice…obviously combined with consumption habits that do not go in the direction of consumerism that leads to accumulating more than one reasonably needs.
The TENCEL™ production process has a closed cycle scheme, in which organic solvents are recycled by more than 99% and water is reused.
The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (“Higg SMI”), which measures the sustainability of production processes in the textile industry, highlighted how the production of TENCEL™ obtains a score 40 times higher in terms of water consumption , compared to the production of traditional non-organic cotton (for information on the index: https://howtohigg.org/ for a graphic representation of the positioning of the various textile fibers based on the environmental impact: https://www.kymo.de/en/blog/how-sustainable-are-textiles-a-comparison-using-the-higg-material-index).
Then abandoning considerations on production and materials and focusing on the life of the merino wool and TENCEL™ garment, the fact of being made of a fabric that combines two materials with excellent management of body vapor, thermoregulators and which limit the generation of water stagnation humidity and the proliferation of odors and bacteria also leads to the consequence that the garments do not require frequent washing as they would require if they were made of other materials, even and especially if they were produced with synthetic fibres.
A further water saving, which adds to the savings generated in the production phase.