Agricultural solutions

I have just watched a Euronews coverage of how enterprising solutions have enabled Algerian farmers to utilise the water table below the desert and renewable electricity to grow potatoes and other foods in specially cultivated areas. Watch at:

This made me think to look for more ideas around the world to help farmers. I will keep looking and adding to this page.

Sustainable farming in a drought without irrigation, California:

Imperial College, London, pointing out possible nature based solutions when combating the effects of climate change:

And we can avoid pesticides to clear weeds. Just use goats!

Those who live in poverty in Brazil are gardening their way to healthier eating:

Decontaminating soil before growing vegetables:

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does history tell us anything?

I read this recently in Ruth Ben Ghiat’s book, Strongmen:

“The Cold War made Mobutu’s long rule and luxurious lifestyle possible. The age of decolonization marked a shift in the economic order, with the end of European empires bringing the removal of European state capital and the influx of new private and institutional investors. Mobutu’s pro-Western anti-Communism set him up to be a primary recipient of funds from Europeans and Americans who sought to contain the left and continue their influence in a postcolonial age. Over the years his champions and investors included his lobbyists Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, US ambassador to Zaire Sheldon B. Vance, and the family of French president Giscard d’Estaing. In the 1980s, the d’Estaings controlled construction-related businesses that accounted for almost a third of Zaire’s foreign debt. The IMF and the United States Export-Import Bank also lent Mobutu money, even after IMF banker Erwin Blumenthal warned in 1982 that they would likely never recoup their funds. By the time Mobutu was forced into exile in 1997, he had amassed a $5 billion fortune. Zaire lost $12 billion in capital flight and gained $14 billion in debt, with a 699.8 percent average annual rate of inflation and more than 70 percent of the population living in poverty on an average daily wage of $1.4.”

Is your mind connecting the dots? Depending on your personal perspective you may draw different conclusions to me as we now contemplate our present global crises.

Poverty and the associated pain of hunger, disease and shortened lives, seem to me to be linked to manipulations by those who have a psychopathic pleasure in perpetuating outcomes like the above.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat explains:

“Corruption is a process as well as a set of practices, and the word’s Latin and Old French origins imply a change of state due to decay. As implied by popular sayings like “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” corruption has always been associated with contamination and degradation, whether of physical objects (like fruit and computer files) or the soul. This notion of corruption captures the operation of strongman regimes. They turn the economy into an instrument of leader wealth creation, but also encourage changes in ethical and behavioral norms to make things that were illegal or immoral appear acceptable, whether election fraud, torture, or sexual assault.”

Democratic Republic of Congo was renamed Zaire by Mobutu. It has a long history of being rich in resources but exploited to this day. See

Africa: the suffering of DR Congo peoples

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When we rebuild

Bertrand Piccard says we must develop wisdom and respect. He is collecting 1000 solutions which exist already, but then will promote them to attract greater investments. We can rebuild whilst not recreating the harmful environments of the past centuries.

Look for existing solutions yourself and try to work out how you can apply them wherever you live. For example, I just found this one today:

Hot sun drying up drinking water? This company have the answer (In the US)

Cleaning up steel industry slag heaps:

Cleaning up contaminants from hazardous industries:

Keep track and decontaminate military waste. This is what happens if you do not:

When the land is clean and healthy, only build green cities:

When industrial production and it’s waste was transferred to countries where labour was cheap and industrial regulation was weak, rich countries could clean up their environments and promote cleaner living conditions at the expense of poorer nations. The industrial harm worldwide must end.

Clean and safe water and sanitation for the world population is a priority:

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘You play with our world, like it’s your little toy’

Dylan put it into words. I am singing it now.

I cannot believe we are seeing a beautiful land and its people being attacked in the 21st century, with the most cruel weapons.

The industries that made these weapons are getting richer as more are ordered. Death will stalk this world whilst the battle for finite resources continues.

We build, you destroy. See Aleppo, then see Mariupol.

Pontiac Greeks in Mariupol

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Battle for Resources

In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s book ‘Strongmen’ she says geopolitics is when authoritarian regimes have a …. conception of the state as an organic entity with the right to defend itself from threats to its safety and the right to expand into foreign territory to secure the resources it needs.

Here we are in 2022, watching the world’s leaders scramble to do deals for their nations. Deals to pay oligarchs instead of once state owned resources for finite supplies of oil, gas, rare metals, wheat…..the list goes on, now are shifting to negotiations with other suppliers. Resources are now weaponised. The losers are always at the bottom of the pyramid.

Russia is the largest supplier of fertiliser in the world and shares being a major supplier of wheat with its neighbour, Ukraine.

The crippling situation in Ukraine has resulted in massive trade restrictions on top of disruptions in supply chains globally due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. Countries like Brazil are dependent on Russia for supplying fertiliser for their food security plans. Thousands are suffering famine due to continuing conflicts as countries such as Yemen, Sudan will not get vital wheat supplies, turning their situation more critical than it now is.

I have written about the harmful aspects of the fertiliser industry. Historically, land is grabbed to expand what was once individual plots for local farmers to create huge areas for industrial farming.

Britain’s land use has adapted over the centuries as war and conflict changed the ownership and farming practices. Arable farming is now a science, often discarding good understanding of retaining soil and allowing it to rest and restore its health after use. The Soil Association tries to encourage good practice but it is an uphill struggle against industrial heavyweights who promote harmful products to ‘improve soil and produce’.

Here are the ten countries who had the most arable land in 2016:

Here are the 10 countries with the most arable land:

  1. India (156,463,000 hectares)
  2. United States (152,262,500 hectares)
  3. Russia (123,121,820 hectares)
  4. China (118,900,000 hectares)
  5. Brazil (80,976,000 hectares)
  6. Australia (46,048,000 hectares)
  7. Canada (43,766,000 hectares)
  8. Argentina (39,200,000 hectares)
  9. Nigeria (34,000,000 hectares)
  10. Ukraine (32,776,000 hectares)

According to the FAO, in the year 2013, the world’s arable land amounted to 1,407 million hectares, or about 5.4 million square miles. Arable land worldwide has decreased by nearly one-third since 1961, because of re-forestation, soil erosion, and desertification caused by global climate change.

The United Nations FAO reminds us of the increasingly worrying world food security situation impacted by climate change and conflict over fewer resources. See their charts where they say

The FAO Food Price Index makes a giant leap to another all-time high in March (Release date: 08/04/2022)

Read more about arable land left toxic where toxic weapons have been used.

Our Parliament in the UK saw this tabled in 2018


EDM (Early Day Motion)1329: tabled on 04 June 2018

That this House recognises the problem of toxic contamination of war zones, particularly in Iraq; notes the research presented, in March 2018, by Dr Mozhgan Savabieasfahani at the European Environment Foundation; expresses concern at reports of uranium and thorium contamination in the tissues of children living near the US military base in the ancient city of Ur, with those children being seven times more likely to have birth defects; further notes a 2015 resolution by the American Public Health Association stating that parties involved in military activities have a post-conflict responsibility to decontaminate polluted areas; and calls on the Government to work with the US Administration on action to clean up areas polluted by the allied military forces and assist the Iraqi people with remedial health care.

And now we can read of environmental harm as it happens in Ukraine, a country renowned as tenth in the top ten list of countries with a high farming output across its 32,776,000 hectares of arable land. Look how optimistic Ukraine was about projected wheat harvests for 2019 here.

This paragraph is from the Emerging Europe website:

Ukraine’s favourable geographical location; it’s extremely fertile black soil; decent infrastructure and relatively cheap labour force make the country’s agribusiness sector highly competitive. A lot has been achieved in the country over the past 25 years to enable Ukraine to live up to its status as the “breadbasket of Europe” and to help, at least partly, address the global challenge of sustainable food supply and food security.

Why are supplies of sunflower oil running low in some countries?

About 80 per cent of sunflower oil exports come from Ukraine and Russia. Exports from Ukraine have fallen 95 per cent due to Russia’s attack, Ievgen Osypov at trading company Kernel told Bloomberg TV on 5 April. Russia is still exporting the oil, but has said it will impose a quota from 15 April.

Read more:

This was written in 2020:

“With the flood of grain coming off the fields, Ukraine’s silos will start bursting at their welds next month. Ukraine’s privately run farms are doing fine. Ukraine’s privately run ports are doing fine. In between, the creaking state railroad creates a big bottleneck between the farm gate and the port gate. The solution is to allow private locomotives on state tracks — a practice followed by all of Ukraine’s EU neighbours. In addition, cargo rates have to be raised to regional levels. At present, several well-known oligarchs are beggaring the public railroad for private gain,” UBN editor Jim Brooke said in a note.   

The likely replacement for sunflower oil will be the infamous palm oil from plantations which do such great ecological harm.

Brazil and Argentina will be growing their own wheat to feed livestock, destroying the Rainforest in order to supply burgers and beef to meet high demand. No wheat will be arriving from Ukraine any time soon.

Reducing the emphasis on meat eating and improving farming practices would free up produce to feed the world without much effort.

We must rethink how we use the food we grow, how we use the land to provide uncontaminated crops, how we make each plot of land sacred and tied to our human survival.

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recycling Plastic and Thinking Disassembly

This planet is drowning in plastic, the forever chemical made from oil.

Peak oil production was during the 1970s.

If we assume that consumption patterns continue at their current rate, we will need three times as many natural resources by the year 2050 compared to those used in the year 2000.

World Footprint: Today, we require the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. See Global Footprint Network, 2019

Industrial uses of oil to make polymers for textiles is slowly moving from new to recycled production.

Recycling is big business.

Plastic recycling machine

We now see clothing manufacturers, such as Craghoppers UK, informing us of how many plastic bottles it took to make a particular garment. Lifelong guarantees are issued for each garment produced in this way. The philosophy is that these forever chemicals have been recycled into clothing rather than allowed to end up in the oceans. But, even if the next generation can still wear these items of clothing, they will never safely biodegrade. Thus, like all forever chemicals used over the last two centuries, they all pose a threat to life on earth.

During the 2000s, designers like Stella McCartney, influenced the fashion world to avoid animal based fabrics and find alternatives. This was a response to the appalling billions of animals murdered cruelly for human fashion demands.

In this presently resource scarce world, young designers  propose a vision to eliminate, or at least minimize, the use of pure virgin materials.

In ‘Circular Fashion’ by Peggy Blum, we can see the ideas emerging in the fashion and textile industries to lead us out of the mire of constant planet harm. Instead we can be inspired and empowered to think differently.

We can all be designers of our personal creative expression. We can decide on the way forward to assist our ailing planet and aim to reduce our waste from extremely hazardous to harmless.

You can still have fast fashion if you select materials that decompose naturally. Just as we are seeing packaging becoming compostable, so we can wear compostable clothing.

She also informs us of another technique, drawn from the world of architecture

DISASSEMBLY IN DESIGN Design for disassembly takes its cue from sustainable architecture. It is one of the six core principles within the Cradle to Cradle Certified™/Built Positive movement, in which buildings and products are designed intentionally for material recovery, value retention, and meaningful next use. When designing for disassembly, materials, products, and components must be easily separated and then easily reassembled without damage so that they can be recovered, with their value retained, and then meaningfully recycled. There are three important rules for disassembly in design:

1. Careful selection and use of materials: If you check the label of a garment you are wearing right now, there is a high chance that the fabric is composed of a blend of different fibers, usually a mix of cotton and polyester. When designing for disassembly, it is recommended to use mono materials—materials that consist of one fiber, as these can be easily recycled.

2. Healthy and safe design of the components and product: Toxic dyes, glues, or finishes that may cause negative environmental impact should be avoided.

3. Simple selection and use of fasteners: Any hardware, trims, or notions should be easy to remove, so they can be recovered and reused. Currently this often has to be done by hand.

Consider how a garment can be designed for disassembly. Start by identifying each component (material, buttons, trims, linings, etc.) of the product, and then take into account how each component can be reused or recycled.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been involved in helping focus minds on reducing waste since its founder, the famous round-the-world yachtswoman, retired and dedicated herself to the cause.

This is from her website:

“Everything that surrounds us has been designed by someone: the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, even the way we get our food. The Montreal Design Declaration defines design as “the application of intent: the process through which we create the material, spatial, visual and experiential environments in a world made ever more malleable by advances in technology and materials, and increasingly vulnerable to the effects of unleashed global development.”

Put another way, design is the way we create products, services and systems, and is the mechanism by which we shape the material environment around us to meet our needs and desires.

Crucially, when something is designed important decisions are made that impact how it is manufactured, how it is used, and what happens when it is no longer needed or wanted. It is exceedingly difficult to go back and undo the effects of those decisions if they are later found to produce undesirable consequences.”

We can no longer let other people battle against these problems. As consumers, we can choose eco friendly, preferably biodegradable, products. We can buy products which have been designed for disassembly and recycling. We can watch YouTube re-purposing, upcycling videos to inspire us and learn how to turn items we have bought into further useful items. We can work extra hard to give lifelong use to what we already own and thus avoid sending to the last resort, landfill.

Find out what young people are doing to create sustainable products, example, this from waste produce.

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A to Z of Synthetic Fibers for Fashion

A fiber is defined as any product capable of being woven or otherwise made into a fabric. (See educational site).

Fibers created for the textile industry through:

Agricultural products: cotton or wool

Units: such as nylon or polyester manufactured in a chemical plant

The first commercial production of a manufactured fibre was achieved by French chemist, Count Hilaire de Chardonnet, who in 1889 caused a sensation in the Paris Exhibition when he showed his ‘artificial silk’.

Chemists have been responsible for creating many synthetic materials since the 19th century. The acceleration of environmental harm caused by chemicals began during the Industrial Age. Such was the innovation and perceived brilliance of polymaths since Robert Hooke in the two centuries earlier, that these minds were hailed and sought after by those who wanted to build industries based on their ideas.

Hooke determined that if proper liquid were squirted through a small aperture and allowed to congeal a fiber can be produced. This is how the life of man made fibers begins. They are a sticky liquid which is ‘spun’ or extruded through spinneret holes, forming streams that are solidified into fibers. Just as we know the Spinning Jenny transformed cloth production, so engineers have advanced the making of materials in the textile industry. As humans, we constantly marvel at these machines and systems and the constant improvements, innovations and intricacies of the manufacturing process. After all, the fashion industry is clothing us all, to suit all types, to suit all climates, often breathable fabrics without movement restrictions, fitting close to our skin or hanging elegantly to keep us cool. Now the textile industry is having to find alternatives to the seductive oil based resources, and this is a tall order.

During the last century oil has been the main resource for creating fibers. Our dependence on oil has sounded the death knell for the Planet, a major contributing factor of which we are all aware and have been for over a century. But corporates continue to expand and invest in ‘brilliant’ innovations which utilise oil based fibers in everything we humans deem is vital to our immediate, short term, survival. There is a view that we can intensify our use of fossil fuels in order to escape our dependence by building ‘green’ solutions such as wind turbines and solar panels. This is not a circular plan, it is a linear plan; and that is why it is hard to see the logic.

The Fashion Industry seeks cheap solutions with Fast Fashion churning out thousands of items marketed as wear and dispose. Companies like Zara are one of the biggest Fast Fashion suppliers most of us have heard of. If Fast Fashion encourages plastic based clothing into landfill, then it has to come to a Fast Halt.

Man Made Fibers we all recognise as being part of our wardrobe:

  • Acrylic: Cheap to produce, can be used to make fake fur, cloths and furnishings. It’s warm and resistant to dirt but can pill and get bobbly when rubbed.
  • Polyester: Strong and holds a pleat well. It can melt if heated too high. It is easy to wash and dry. Suitable for sportswear, sheets and curtains.
  • Elastane: A very stretchy fabric which is easy to care for. Washes and dries well, highly flammable. Used for leggings and tights, can be blended with other fabrics to make them stretch.
  • Microfibres: Microscopic fibres are knitted or woven into tight, strong materials which are warm and easy care. (Tactel, Tencell).

Here are some fabrics, many we have known as made from wool, cotton, silk but now are blended with oil based fibers:

Bunting is traditionally made from a lightweight wool, but alternative materials include plastic, synthetic fabrics, and paper. To find eco friendly bunting search online.

Challis is a lightweight woven fabric. It can be made from cotton, silk, or wool (or often a blend), but is now sometimes produced from man-made fabrics, such as rayon.

Chiffon is a lightweight and sheer fabric. Can be made from cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers

Elastane is a synthetic fiber that is stronger and more durable than rubber, while still retaining exceptional elasticity.

Faux-leather is a synthetic fabric that replicates the look of real leather.

Fleece and microfleece are made from PET, a plastic. Not to be confused with the fleece of a sheep or goat.

Gabardine is a tough fabric with a tight weave. Traditionally worsted wool, but can be cotton, polyester, or a blend. Used for suits, overcoats, uniforms.

The allure of these amazing materials which influenced us such as Lurex, with Elvis making his famous lurex suit the memorable image of the 1950s, is why it is so hard to turn ourselves away from purchasing items like lurex (made from a polyester fiber with a vaporized layer of aluminium applied).

For a more detailed alphabetical list of fabrics, see this glossary by the NY Fashion Center. So many times you will read of a familiar fabric which is now blended with a synthetic fiber. These blends bring improvements and advantages to the cloth, (such as durability, stretch, stain resistance and cost efficiency) but the introduction of oil based fibers has brought us to the endgame for our beautiful planet.

Looking down the list of fabrics we still have some recognisable material which has not been blended with synthetics, but so often it originates as cotton or wool, and previous blogs explain why there are environmental issues with those most popular sources. We have seen animals driven to extinction when they were our first choice for clothing, so oil based yarn developments have rescued many from the edge of extinction. Now we are all threatened with extinction with our dependence on oil.

The Fashion Industry is going to have to lead us out of this mess where we dispose of our clothing into landfill, where it will not biodegrade ever. Oil is a forever chemical. As consumers we have to educate ourselves about alternatives and biodegradable Everything. We can support all companies which are working to offer us a way forward, but we must not be fooled by marketing lies.

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

B for Bamboo. When is Bamboo clothing not Bamboo? When it is Viscose.

I have quoted Owlcation for some of the following details.

China and India are the main sources of this grass, which can grow tall, looking like trees in a forest. It does not attract pests, so does not require treatment with pesticides. This is a massive plus for the Planet.

Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries in Europe have begun to cultivate bamboo. The plant is also quickly spreading to Africa and America.

In 2002, renewed cellulosic bamboo fiber was first manufactured by Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Co.

The cross-section of the single bamboo fiber is round with a small lumen. Bamboo fibers have a high breaking strength as well as good absorbability properties, but they have low elongation.

The main components of bamboo are cellulose, heme-cellulose, and lignin. The secondary components of bamboo are resins, wax, and inorganic salts. Bamboo contains other organic components in addition to cellulose and lignin. It contains about 2% oxidant polysaccharide, 2-4% fat, 2-6% starch and 0.8-6% protein.

The bamboo carbohydrate content plays an important role in its durability. The strength of bamboo against the attack of mold and fungi is closely related to their chemical composition.

Safe Environmental Mechanical Process of making Bamboo Linen:

In mechanical processing, harvested and crushed bamboo wood is initially treated with natural enzymes that break down bamboo into a soft material. Next, natural fibers can be mechanically combed to obtain individual fibers, followed by yarn spinning. The fabric manufactured through this process is often called bamboo linen, and this process is considered environmentally friendly because no harmful chemicals are used.

But Bamboo woven with cotton can produce an attractive fabric. See here.


Super soft 100% organic double cloth bamboo cotton blend – the warp is cotton, the weft is bamboo. It is made by weaving two layers of cloth simultaneously, with a third binding weft to create the squares that hold the two layers together. It is a lovely breathable fabric perfect for adults and babies alike. The bamboo adds a silkiness to the touch and look of the fabric and makes this fabric very luxurious for shirts, dresses, tops and loungewear. You could also use it for pillowcases and quilt backing. Please note that the weave will appear skewed due to rolling but washing will straighten it out.

52% GOTS certified organic cotton (warp) 48% organic bamboo (weft).

The Chemical Process is not good for the environment. The bamboo cellulose is used to make all types of rayon, including viscose, modal, and lyocell.

The viscose manufacturing process is summed up in five steps:

  1. The plant is chipped into a wood pulp and dissolved chemicals like sodium hydroxide, forming a brown wood pulp solution. (The hazard of sodium hydroxide for the environment is caused by the hydroxide ion (pH effect). A high concentration in water will result in toxic effects for aquatic organisms e.g. fish.)
  2. This brown wood pulp is then washed, cleaned, and bleached. (Bleach also puts wildlife at risk; its byproducts have been linked to cancer in studies on laboratory animals. Environmental toxins created by bleach have lowered the populations of several species of birds and fish. Bleach is especially damaging to the environment because it lingers for many years.)
  3. To create the fibers, the pulp is treated with carbon disulfide and then dissolved in sodium hydroxide to create the solution referred to as “viscose.”(Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to carbon disulfide has caused changes in breathing and chest pains. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, mood changes, lethargy, blurred vision, delirium, and convulsions have also been reported in humans acutely exposed by inhalation.)
  4. The viscose solution is forced through a spinneret, which is a machine that creates filaments, called regenerated cellulose.
  5. This regenerated cellulose is spun into yarn, which can then be woven or knit into viscose rayon fabric.
Viscose Rayon, though beautiful, is not biodegradable, which pure bamboo would be

But most of that clothing has historically been made from viscose rayon, which is created from bamboo or wood pulp processed in a toxic soup of chemicals that generates significant pollution. Today, a lot of experts believe that the “bamboo” label on rayon clothing is fundamentally a misrepresentation.

The main suppliers of viscose, rayon and the like are in China and India, and toxic processes are common in these countries, the sacrifice of the labour force to boost the economy is a priority. It follows the pattern of the Industrial Revolution, despite clear understanding of what the harm to the environment has been, and the legacy remains. Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Co. remains the leading supplier.

Lyocell is a type of Rayon made using the Lyocell process. It is a semi-synthetic fabric made using wood or bamboo cellulose

Rayon was the first manufactured fiber, developed in the late 19th century and commercially produced in the US starting in 1910. It was originally marketed as artificial silk due to its softness, nice drape, and luster. It quickly rose in popularity because its price point was significantly lower than silk and cotton.

According to the European Man-Made Fibres Association (CIRFS), in 2016 manufactured cellulosic made up 6.6% of the global market, roughly 5.3 million metric tons. The Textile Exchange estimated that viscose made up 91% of cellulosic production, only 29% of which was sourced sustainably. (Followed by lyocell at 6% and modal at 3%.)

Rayon can have significant negative impacts on people, the environment, and biodiversity along its lifecycle. The wood pulp used to make rayon can be sustainably harvested, but often it isn’t. According to Canopy Planet, roughly a third come from ancient and endangered forests.

However, such is the attractiveness of Viscose made with Bamboo there are companies working hard to assure us they are minimising the chemical harm to the environment, and offsetting the carbon footprint by growing bamboo plantations and not adding to deforestation for the wood pulp. One of these companies is BAM. There is no doubt they have put a great deal of effort into reassuring us of their green credentials.

Rayon fabrics like Bamboo and Cupro (made from a bi-product of the cotton plant, cotton linters) are often incorrectly marketed as sustainable because the raw material is sustainably harvested (bamboo grows quickly without chemicals and a lot of water, and cotton linters are often called “waste” from cotton production despite having their own market). The production of fabric from these materials can be done in a more sustainable manner, but usually it still goes through the chemical-intensive and polluting viscose process- so be wary and really vet your sources. (Cuprammonium rayon is no longer made in the US because its producers could not meet air- and water-quality requirements.) See Bamboo.

Rayon production is dangerous for workers

  • Workers can be seriously harmed by the chemicals used to make most rayon. Carbon disulfide in particular can cause reproductive harm and damage to the nervous system (carbon-disulfide-based viscose is no longer made within the U.S.). Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, can cause corrosion and chemical burns to workers who handle it frequently and without protection.
  • Also, work accidents can occur from explosions or leakages in chemical storage areas.
  • According to Paul D. Blanc, who teaches occupational and environmental medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and wrote Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon, throughout most of the 20th century, viscose rayon manufacturing was inextricably linked to widespread, severe and often lethal illness among those employed in making it. For workers in viscose rayon factories, poisoning caused insanity, nerve damage, Parkinson’s disease, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Do you want to wear a garment which has been processed in such a way that a fellow human being has suffered illnesses as a direct result of their labour? Read more here.

It is not easy to find clothing which has not caused health issues when being created and sewn in factories. It is up to each of us to take responsibility and search for items which we know caused NO HARM.

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A for Acrylonitrile and a move to Circular Fashion

Due to raised awareness of brutality to animals in order to provide us with clothing, we have sought alternatives. Vegans demand no animals be used to make Fashion Industry products, but non-vegans, whilst enjoying eating meat, have also become aware of the protests against animal cruelty and similarly many do not want such products.

There is now another concern added to this one. We do not want our consumer waste to be harmful to the Planet on which we live.

Watch this shocking video of illegal dumping of synthetic Fast Fashion items in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Unfortunately, in order to find alternatives to animal sources for fashion items, we now use synthetic fibers, and they are sophisticated and often misleadingly labelled with greenwashing phrases, like ‘recycled’, or ‘vegan’. Using ‘vegan’ is misleading as it has taken decades to get the Fashion Industry to use alternatives to animal skins. But Vegans tend also to be people who care about Cimate Change and Environmental Pressures caused by Human Activity. We have to search for true alternatives which do not involve polluting the environment. We have to be like detectives sorting the truth from the fakery, misleading eco friendly greenwashing marketing and the like. Few products are what they seem.

Let us find out more using an alphabetical listing. Starting with A for Acrylonitrile.

The history of Acrylic fiber is found here.

Like many other synthetic textile fibers, the American DuPont Corporation originally developed acrylic fiber. This firm had already become famous around the world for the development of nylon and the mainstreaming of polyester production, and when acrylic fiber was invented in the 1940s, the world saw this development as simply the next step in DuPont’s rapid ascent to a dominant position in the world’s textile markets.

However, acrylic fiber didn’t become notably popular until the 1950s. It’s possible that the success of DuPont’s other synthetic textiles contributed to this slow mainstreaming of acrylic fiber; this company had already replaced silk with nylon and cotton with polyester, which may have reduced consumer receptivity to this company’s new wool replacement, acrylic.

See my blog about DuPont.

Ineos Nitriles is the 21st century main global supplier of Acrylonitrile: It is the Asian countries who now provide the clothing made from this fiber.

Acrylonitrile-based acrylic fibres, a popular substitute for cotton and wool, are used to make clothing, carpeting and blankets. Rugged and durable, ABS plastic derived from Acrylonitrile is chosen for its toughness and dimensional stability over other engineering resins. Other applications for Acrylonitrile include Nitrile rubber for hoses and gaskets.

Also find

  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic: used in refrigerator liners, medical devices, auto parts, small household appliances, toys, and luggage.
  • Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN) plastic: used for food containers, tableware, bathroom fittings, and optical fibers..

Widespread use, yet Acrylonitrile has shortcomings:

  • Weatherability (damaged by sunlight)
  • Solvent Resistance
  • Hazardous When Burned
  • Limited Uses in Association with Food Industry
  • Higher Price Than Polystyrene or Polyethylene

Acrylonitrile is manufactured by combining propylene, ammonia, and air in a process called ammoxidation. During ammoxidation, propylene, ammonia and air are fed through a catalyst at a high temperature. … This provides a large catalyst surface area for maximum exposure to the reactants.

Propylene is used mainly to produce polypropylene plastics for injection molding and fibers and for manufacturing cumene (used in phenol production). Propylene is also used to make propylene oxide, acrylic acid, oxo alcohols and isopropanol.

Propylene is probably the oldest petrochemical feedstock in the gas industry. Propylene, also known as 1-propene, is one of the smallest stable unsaturated hydrocarbon molecules used in the gas industry.

The propylene molecule is produced as a co-product of ethylene production through the steam cracking (steam pyrolysis) of hydrocarbon feedstocks. Feedstocks used for steam cracking range from ethane to naphtha and gas oils. Propylene is also produced as a by-product of petroleum refining. Propylene is sold in three separate quality grades: refinery (~70%), chemical (~92-96%) and polymer (99.5%). Chevron Phillips Chemical sells refinery and polymer grades.

The production of ammonia from natural gas is conducted by reacting methane (natural gas) with steam and air, coupled with the subsequent removal of water and CO2. The products of this process are hydrogen and nitrogen, which are the feedstock for the main ammonia synthesis.

Acrylic Fleeces – yes, I have many. I agree what this site says:

What is Fleece?

Fleece is a man-made wonder product, if there is such a thing. Despite being named after the ‘fleece’ coat on a sheep, it’s 100% synthetic and derived from plastic rather than a fluffy sheep’s coat – despite being fuzzy to the touch. The super soft, warm and breathable nature of this magic material makes it perfect for outerwear and all things cosy.

Just as I cannot replace my existing plastic products in my home, I could not keep warm without all these synthetic fibers in my clothing. But no manufacturer has innovated to produce an equally attractive and warm fibre without resorting to harmful petrochemical processes.

The Grangemouth Refinery in Scotland is a vital part of the infrastructure here. Ineos is a massive global company with its petrochemical activities. Whilst we are being told petrochemicals are bad for the environment, the industry is booming.

Petrochemical facilities are energy-intensive and dump an enormous amount of carbon pollution into the air. … After they are produced, petrochemical products continue to fuel the climate crisis. For example, nearly 12% of plastic waste is incinerated, releasing more greenhouse gases as well as dangerous toxins

There is no doubt there is no forthcoming replacement for all the billions of items we create using petrochemicals. But we consumers can question whether we should be purchasing fabrics which have been created with the help of the petrochemical industry. We can educate ourselves about Circular Fashion and ‘demand designing waste and pollution out of our clothes’, suggested in the book (as shown below) 20 years ago. We are behind the curve. We need to get ahead of it.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002)


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Published in 2002, Cradle to Cradle is widely acknowledged as one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time.

And just as I upload this blog I see a bill in the US being presented:

Senate Bill S7428

2021-2022 Legislative Session

Requires fashion retail sellers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies; establishes a community benefit fund

I would urge all US citizens to support this bill, but act independently in your judgements when buying products with poor environmental and human rights histories. Please send a message of disgust to the offending companies by avoiding further purchases. For more information click here.

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fast Fashion Fuelling Extinction

A few years back I wrote about climate and how the lives of the Inuit had to change as a result. They have been major users of animal skins since they first arrived after generations of travel from Africa, as nomads, in the coldest of landscapes, thousands of years ago.

But now, the Fast Fashion Industry still uses animal skins, not for essential use, but for fleeting wearability. Wherever cattle can be bred, not just for excessive meat eating but for their skins, the land is cleared to make way for such procurement, even if Rainforests are destroyed and with it essential habitat for flora and fauna. Around the world exotic creatures are increasingly farmed under cruel conditions to feed the Fast Fashion Industry.

A simple search on the Internet will soon bring up pitiful images of human cruelty to animals to meet the supply demand of the Fashion Industry:

The Arctic Fox:

Headline in Daily Mail: “

The pitiful Arctic foxes that shame the fashion world: Beautiful creatures are cramped in tiny cages and deliberately bloated to produce two million fur pelts for Britain each year

  • While the UK banned fur farming 15 years ago, shoppers are still able to buy imported pelts
  • Over the past five years more than £2.5 million of fur items have been imported into the UK from Finland 

Without the demand from thoughtless shoppers, this trade would not exist.

The short miserable lives of animals raised/ranched for their fur are finally ended when they are killed by gas, strangulation, neck breaking or anal electrocution. Read more, here.

In a world where fur is becoming increasingly déclassé because of repeated campaigns by animal rights activists — with luxury houses like Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors and Versace recently pledging to ban fur altogether — is the use of feathers any more ethical? According to Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns at PETA, the answer is an emphatic no. “It’s unnecessary and it’s cruel, and it’s not ethical,” she asserts.

The ten most endangered animals used by the Fashion Industry are described in full here. These animals suffer terribly because the profits are high at the top end of the luxury fashion market.

The list tells us of:

Crocodilians comprise a vast number of large reptile species, including crocodiles, alligators, caiman, and gharials around the world. Australia is one of the worst countries producing crocodile skins for the luxury market. “The high-end French fashion brand Hermès wants to build one of Australia’s biggest crocodile farms in the Northern Territory that would hold up to 50,000 saltwater crocodiles to be turned into luxury goods such as handbags and shoes.”

Australian Kangaroo

African Ostriches

North American Beaver

Big Wild Cats

Python leather

Short-tailed Chinchilla

Seal Leather

Antelope Species

Bear Fur

As extinction progresses and increasingly rare animals are cruelly farmed, people are becoming aware of the hostile environment for the diversity of animals we have been exploiting for centuries in increasingly fast fashion trading processes. It does not make sense to wear garments briefly then send them to landfill. It does make sense to consider where the items we purchase come from and if animal cruelty was involved, or were animals even necessary in the making of our clothes?

Posted in anthropocene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment