According to an international report on market perceptions towards textile products and sustainability, 86 per cent of consumers consider wood a sustainable textile raw material, more so than cotton. Today, only one third of wood-based clothing is comfortable with this. Consumers think the image of brand sustainability is the single most significant indicator of a conscious purchasing choice.
The study was made in Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and the US in the spring of 2020. Wood was found to be the most resilient of textile raw materials currently available. Emerging, waste-based raw materials earned the highest sustainability award over wood. Nordic respondents were most pro wood; 90 per cent of Finns and 91 per cent of Swedes consider timber to be a raw material for sustainable textiles. Reasons for not finding wood-based textiles appealing were related to both environmental reasons and qualities of the textile material.
“When the Spinnova fiber is made of farmed wood, the raw material value chain is CO2 positive. This means the trees are a larger carbon sink than the lumbering, pulping and logistics combined emit. Therefore concerns over excessive lumbering and native forest use are mostly unnecessary,” said Spinnova’s CEO and co-founder Janne Poranen.
According to the report, hazardous chemicals are perceived to be the textile industry’s worst environmental problem; 64 per cent calling this a concern. Also 60% associated excessive water usage an industry concern, led by ocean microplastics, pollution, and CO2 emissions.
When asked the factors make up a product ‘s sustainable identity, the brand sustainability image earned the most responses, 54 per cent. Just 29 percent of respondents considered high prices to be a symbol of sustainable development. 48 per cent of environmental certificates is deemed a sustainability measure.
“This supports the idea that brand owners should be as transparent as possible about their sustainability efforts and even the environmental impacts of individual products,” Poranen suggested.
Despite the positive outlook on wood, only a third of all respondents had wood-based textiles knowledge, even though man-made cellulosic fibres had been around for decades. 55 per cent, however, considered the idea of wood-based clothing appealing. When asked the same question about plant-based waste clothing, as many as 76 per cent said they would find it an enticing option. Surprisingly, only a third of respondents said textile materials affect their buying decisions.
There was a lot of country variance in the attitudes, for example towards crude oil as a textile raw material. Whereas 1 percent of Finns thought it’s a sustainable raw material, the corresponding proportion of Americans was 26 percent. Also, 65 percent of French respondents think cotton is a sustainable raw material, whereas only 29 percent of Finns think so.
The research, “Consumer expectations of the quality of the garment industry and textile fibres,” was created by the environmental management student Fia Husu as a thesis dissertation for the University of Jyväskylä. It was conducted in Finland , Sweden, Germany, France and the United States, as a multimedia survey by Norstat. The sampling was in excess of 300 responses per nation, a total of 1,572. The age sampling of the study was 15-40 years.