Raising awareness - A Herculean task

There is a huge awareness raising task for all of us in the textile industry and around it.

We are developing a sustainable textile fibre as material scientists. Although we have wonderful brand partners to give us insight to their market, we wanted to find out about consumer attitudes towards sustainability in textiles on our own. With a sample of 1,500+ people from Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and the US, we did get some great insight.

What we learned was amazing news for our innovation’s future. It was not all positive though, and what we learned from the prejudices, is also very useful information. For example, when asked why the respondents would not find wood-based textiles appealing, some suspected that they would have “splinters”.

When asked the same question about waste-based cellulose that can be turned into textiles with emerging technologies like ours, some thought a waste raw material could be “unappealing” or, for example, “smelly”.

When asked whether the respondents pay attention to the material of the clothes they buy, only 30% of respondents said textile materials significantly affect their buying decisions. The rest seem to make their choices based on look, feel, and brand image only.

Sure, in the textile industry we can chuckle at the comments since we know materials, but that would be short-sighted. Truth is that for consumers to become more sustainable, they need a lot more information than they seem to have. That is crucial for the industry and the planet.

If less than a third of consumers read care labels to understand what their clothes are made of, there is a huge awareness raising task for all of us in the textile industry and around it. To be honest, this feels overwhelming sometimes. Something that has evolved over decades, needs a systemic change to reverse.

Raising awareness in the textile industry is a bit like chores in my household: nobody’s and everybody’s responsibility. Here, it has to be everyone's. Consumers need to start paying attention to textile materials, as well as personal consumption habits and volumes. Brands must have sustainable material goals they work hard to reach, and educate the consumer in what choices they can already make. Media must pay more attention to writing about the industry, its challenges, improvements, and innovations. Influencers who reach millions of people must use their power over people for the good.

As innovators, we do not have the exposure that big brands, media and influencers do, but we too try our very best. I would love for you to join us.

Stay sustained <3