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An exploration of designers’ perspectives on human health and environmental impacts of interior textiles

An exploration of designers’ perspectives on human health and environmental impacts of interior... Fast fashion and fast furnishings contribute to the unsustainability of the textile industry in multiple ways, and the deleterious impacts of fast furnishings, in particular, have encouraged some companies to embrace more holistic and sustainable approaches to interior textile design. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore designers’ perspectives on if and how decisions made during the design process for interior textiles may impact human health and the environment throughout the product life cycle, and if and how these decisions may be influenced by the engagement with and/or responsibilities toward stakeholders. This research was informed by multiple frameworks, including the design for the environment (DfE), product life cycle assessment (LCA), and stakeholder theory. Data were collected using an interpretive, qualitative research method that involved in-depth interviews with 12 US designers/design managers who specialize in the development of residential and/or commercial interior textiles. Findings revealed that participants demonstrated professional understanding of human health and environmental issues during the preliminary stages of the life cycle, including raw material selection, textile fabrication, and finishes and treatments, whereas understanding of such issues at the later stages of the life cycle (packaging and transportation, consumer care, and post use) tended to be more theoretical rather than strategic. Findings also revealed differences among designers employed by DfE-oriented companies and designers employed at more conventional companies with respect to their apparent understanding of how decisions made during the design process may impact human health and the environment throughout the product life cycle. This research contributes to our understanding of the role that designers may play in mitigating the negative impacts of interior textiles throughout the product life cycle. A limitation of this study is the size of the sample; conclusions are based upon the insights gained from 12 designers of interior textile products, and thus may not be generalizable to all designers/companies in the residential and/or commercial interior textile industry. Background materials and chemical runoff during the manufacturing During the twentieth century, a manufacturing strategy process have a direct, negative impact on the environ- known as planned obsolescence was implemented to en- ment, which, in turn, may endanger the health of courage the design of products that decline in function workers, community members, and consumers. Within or go out of fashion after a relatively short period of use the global textile and clothing industry, planned obsoles- (Whiteley 1987). Although products designed using a cence is supported by growing consumer demand for planned obsolescence strategy provide some economic luxury goods and a quick response manufacturing model benefits for the manufacturer, such products have the (Niinim ki 2015). Planned obsolescence has become so potential to negatively impact human health and the commonplace in the industry over the last 20 years that environment through all stages of their life cycle. For the term fast fashion has been coined to specifically de- example, pesticides used during the cultivation of raw note low-cost clothing that imitates luxury fashion trends and encourages disposability (Joy et al. 2012). * Correspondence: Karen.Hyllegard@colostate.edu More recently, the term fast furnishings has been applied Department of Design and Merchandising, Colorado State University, 324 to the design of low-cost home/soft furnishings, which Gifford Bldg. (1574), Fort Collins, CO 80523-1574, USA © 2016 Calamari et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 2 of 16 similarly involves shortened cycles in the manufacturing, Few studies have addressed the human health and en- marketing, and consumption of residential and commer- vironmental impacts generated by textile products across cial interior textile products such as upholstery, window the product life cycle or how these impacts might be treatments, carpet/rugs, bedding, and decorative pillows, mitigated by the decisions made at the design stage of and likewise can have deleterious impacts on human the product life cycle, including decisions to recycle and health and the natural environment (Araji and Shakour reuse materials. Further, most of these studies have fo- 2013; Rastogi 2009; Wright et al. 2008). cused on apparel products or specifically on textile dyes The advent of fast fashion and fast furnishings con- and other finishes (Gam et al. 2011; Pammi et al. 2012; tributes to the unsustainability of the textile industry Wright et al. 2008). Dissemination of findings from the in multiple ways, including the overuse of natural re- present study may help to foster the integration of more sources, escalating pollution/waste, the presence of sustainable practices in the production and consumption toxins and carcinogens in fabrics, and the growing of interior textile products, which, in turn, will mitigate volume of clothing and textile goods that end up in some of the negative impacts of these products on hu- landfills or incinerators (Birtwistle and Moore 2007; man health and the environment. Jackson 2014; Whitehead 2014). It is the deleterious It is well documented that textile products generate impacts of fast furnishings, in particular, that have deleterious human health and environmental impacts encouraged some companies to embrace more holis- throughout the product life cycle, from raw material tic and sustainable approaches to interior textile cultivation to the disposal of finished goods (Gam and design. One such approach—design for the environ- Banning 2011; Gam et al. 2009; Giudice et al. 2005; ment (DfE)—is a design philosophy or process that Laitala and Boks 2012; Niinimäki and Hassi 2011; Stegall considers the economic, health, and environmental 2006). Such deleterious impacts often involve inputs and impacts associated with a product across its life outcomes specific to chemical use, indoor air quality, cycle and that emphasizes the use of safe and and energy and water consumption. For example, the sustainable materials, features, and processes (Kim production of conventional cotton involves the use of 2010; Fiksel 1996; Mackenzie 1991; Niinim ki 2006; large amounts of pesticides and insecticides, some of Ramani et al. 2010; Sun et al. 2003; Yang et al. which remain in the finished textile product throughout 2011). As such, the purpose of this study was to ex- its life cycle (Chen and Burns 2006). Additionally, textile plore designers’ understanding of, and consideration production processes, such as scouring, dyeing, and fin- for, sustainability (or DfE) as it relates to the design ishing, are often performed with chemicals that are and development of commercial and residential interior harmful to human health and the environment (Araji textiles. More specifically, the aim was to gain insight into and Shakour 2013; Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Thiry designers’ perspectives on if and how decisions made 2005). Chemical finishes and adhesives applied during during the design process for interior textiles may impact the production stage (e.g., stain and flame retardants) human health and the environment throughout the prod- may be released into the environment during the later uct life cycle and if and how these decisions may be influ- stages of product consumption and disposal. For ex- enced by engagement with and/or responsibilities toward ample, decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is a hazard- diverse stakeholder groups. ous chemical commonly used as a flame retardant finish This study contributes to our understanding of the for interior furnishings that can seep into the ground role that designers may play in mitigating the negative during its slow decomposition and thereby negatively impacts generated by interior textiles throughout the impact the health of humans and wildlife (Tremblay product life cycle, which is important owing to the size et al. 1999; Wright et al. 2008). Despite the regulation of and scope of the textile industry and its impact on hu- hazardous chemicals in the USA and Europe, much of man health and the environment. Driven by consumer the world’s textile manufacturing has moved to countries demand worldwide, the value of the global textile indus- where the environmental standards are less strict and try (i.e., yarns, fabrics, and finishes) continues to rise and hazardous chemicals are more likely to be used during will reach $791 billion ($US) in 2016 (Lu 2015). Simul- production (Abreu et al. 2012; Niinimäki and Hassi taneously, the industry has become one of the five lar- 2011). The use of these chemicals can be harmful to gest contributors to CO emissions in the USA and an workers who handle the fiber and fabrics during produc- even larger contributor in the developing world (Dev tion (Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Goldbach et al. 2009; Oecotextiles 2009). Research on the negative im- 2003) as well as to community members who may be ex- pacts of interior textiles has often focused on singular posed to contaminated water supplies owing to the lack outcomes, such as contamination of indoor air quality of proper water treatment facilities (Chen and Burns attributed to such products (e.g., Coggon 1996; Ip et al. 2006; Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Goldbach et al. 2003; Tremblay et al. 1999). 2003). Chemicals used in packaging textiles for transport Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 3 of 16 also may pose health risks to the workers who apply the including conventionally grown cotton (Muthu et al. chemicals, unload the shipment, and remove the prod- 2012). Similarly, desizing, scouring, bleaching, merceris- ucts for retail display (Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; ing, dyeing, printing, and finishing during the textile Preisser et al. 2012). Additionally, the transportation of manufacturing process requires vast amounts of water, materials from one factory (or country) to another and subsequently generates significant amounts of contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (Caniato et al. wastewater and the need for water recovery systems 2012). The use of potentially harmful chemicals during (Chen and Burns 2006). The growing demand for and the laundering process (e.g., toxic chemicals in fabric overconsumption of textile products, and the amount of softeners, dryer sheets, and dry cleaning solvents) fur- energy and water used to care for these products, further ther exacerbates the environmental impacts of interior contribute to the aggregate impact on human health and textiles (Chen and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; Laitala et al. the environment (Chen and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; 2011). Lastly, the disposal of textile goods results in 15.1 Laitala and Boks 2012; Laitala et al. 2011; Saxce et al. million tons of waste in the US landfills annually (US 2012). Over the past 20 years, the increased number of Environmental Protection Agency 2015), which is of sig- inexpensive home furnishing retailers in the marketplace nificant concern because as these textiles decompose, (e.g., IKEA, Home Goods) and the growing merchandise methane, a potent greenhouse gas, releases into the en- assortments in home furnishing found among mass mer- vironment and dyes and other chemicals leach into the chandisers, such as Walmart and Target, has heightened soil potentially harming humans and wildlife. Although consumer demand for fast furnishings. The production textile reuse and recycling can be less harmful to the en- of these goods, including the transportation of raw ma- vironment than the manufacturing of new products from terials and finished goods from one factory (or country) raw materials (Woolridge et al. 2006), the Environmental to another contributes to energy consumption (Caniato Protection Agency reports that only 15 % of all US et al. 2012). In addition to the volume of textile produc- textile waste (roughly 5 % of total municipal waste), tion and consumption, the amount of energy and water was recovered for recycling in 2013 (US Environmental used to care for interior textile products adds to the Protection Agency 2015). overall environmental impact of these products (Chen Another concern that arises during the use of interior and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; Laitala et al. 2011). textiles and fast furnishings is the negative impact on in- door air quality (Araji and Shakour 2013; Daisey et al. Conceptual framework 2003; Tremblay et al. 1999). Studies examining interior This research was informed by scholarly conceptuali- spaces with high concentrations of furniture, such as zations of sustainable product design processes that schools and offices, have found that poor indoor air incorporate principles of DfE, product life cycle as- quality also can cause “sick building syndrome” a phys- sessment (LCA), and stakeholder theory (Freeman ical reaction to indoor air quality usually in the form of 1984). DfE is a term that was introduced in the 1990s fatigue and respiratory problems (Jaakkola et al. 1999). to encourage environmental awareness and action Three key features of interior furnishings that contribute related to a company’s product development efforts to sick building syndrome are chemicals contained in (Fiksel 1996). Since that time, DfE has grown to em- the materials, chemicals on the surface of materials, and body a philosophy and practice that engages designers the release of chemicals during the “gas phase” through in the consideration and mitigation of the negative product usage (Uhdea and Salthammer 2007). Contam- impacts that a product creates on human health and ination may occur over time as interior furnishings com- the environment (Fiksel 1996; Fuad-Luke 2009; monly “off-gas,” that is, as they release chemicals into Graedel and Allenby 1996; Kim 2010; Mackenzie 1991; the indoor environment, in part, due to the chemical fin- Papanek 1995; Niinimäki 2006; Ramani et al. 2010; Stegall ishes applied during manufacturing (Jaakkola et al. 1999; 2006). DfE requires designers or engineers to consider the Thiry 2005). Further, textile wall coverings and carpet environmental impact of the product development can trap allergens such as mites and molds and may process across the product life cycle, with the understand- contain trace amounts of formaldehyde (Tremblay et al. ing that environmental concerns need to be addressed 1999). In combination with poor ventilation or environ- during the initial design stage of the process (Billatos and mental changes (e.g., humidity), these contaminants can Basaly 1997). To encourage a life cycle approach to prod- negatively impact human health (Jaakkola et al. 1999; uct development, various guidelines and comprehensive Uhdea and Salthammer 2007). models based upon DfE principles have been developed to The use of organic cotton in the production of textile reduce the environmental impacts caused by the product goods mitigates the environmental impact some; how- development process, as have systems or tools for evaluat- ever, the cultivation of organic cotton requires an enor- ing the impact of finished products (see Billatos and mous amount of water in comparison to other fibers, Basaly 1997; Bras 1997; Fiksel 1996; Fuad-Luke 2002; Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 4 of 16 Handfield et al. 2001; Kamide et al. 2013; Keoleian and model employed by Designtex specifically for interior Menerey 1993; Leal-Yepes 2013; Sun et al. 2003). Further, textiles (Environmental Design 2013) served as the inte- DfE principles tend to be implemented by large manufac- grated conceptual framework for this study. Together, turers that have the resources to engage in such efforts these models provided the basis for understanding how and the clout to require suppliers to comply with their ef- decisions made during the design process for interior forts as well as by the establishment of international stan- textiles may impact human health and the environment dards, such as International Standards Organization (ISO) throughout the product life cycle and how these 14000, that provide companies with specific tools for decisions may be influenced by an organization’s managing their environmental responsibilities (Bras 1997). engagement with and/or responsibilities toward its The notion that organizations have responsibilities to- stakeholders. Although multiple authors (e.g., Keoleian ward society that go beyond their legal obligations and and Menerey 1993; Mackenzie 1991; Pahl and Beitz 1988) economic interests (Carroll 1991) has prompted re- have contributed to our understanding of the conceptual searchers to explore social responsibility, sustainability, design and design for the environment dating back to and related terms (e.g., ethical fashion) in the context of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Handfield et al.’s the global textiles and clothing industry. Although defi- (2001) environmentally responsible design process nitions for these terms vary somewhat, they all address model was employed in the present study because it the social, environmental, and economic well-being of incorporates a DfE orientation that was specially applied multiple stakeholders and are often used interchangeably to a manufacturer of office furniture (a textile-related in the literature (Dickson and Eckman 2006; Joergens product category), and as such, it provided a context by 2006; Niinimäki 2006; Niinimäki 2015). Stakeholder the- which to explore the design process for interior textiles. ory posits that businesses have distinct obligations and The model is based upon three propositions about envir- responsibilities toward multiple groups that may influ- onmentally responsible or ecologically sustainable organi- ence managerial decision-making, including decisions zations (ESOs). First, designers are given environmental related to sustainability (Freeman 1984; Sun et al. 2003; objectives and goals for product design. Second, ESOs em- Zakhem et al. 2008). Establishing long-term relation- ploy systems to explicitly consider and measure environ- ships with various stakeholders—employees, suppliers, mental objectives or criteria at key points throughout the competitors, governments, NGOs, consumers, and product design process. Third, ESOs integrate environ- communities—can support efforts toward sustainabil- mental considerations into the design process by measur- ity through the creation of new opportunities for ing environmental outcomes and incorporating outcomes businesses and greater value for stakeholders (Levi into strategic planning (Handfield et al. 2001). Strauss & Co. 2015; Niinim ki 2015; Sun et al. 2003). The present study was informed by the second prop- Behrendt et al. (1997) explained that three levels of stake- osition, which focuses directly upon product design/de- holders are involved in the life cycle design, and each level velopment and the idea that environmental objectives or is distinguished by the importance of the stakeholders’ criteria can be encouraged and evaluated throughout the involvement. The first level includes company personnel, design process; it is explained as a five-step process: con- such as product designers and developers, product cept, product design, process design, package design, managers, sales and marketing managers, and environ- and product launch (Handfield et al. 2001). Pahl and mental and safety experts. The second level of stake- Beitz (1988) characterized conceptual design as an inte- holders includes external parties that support the product gral part (i.e., primary phase) of the design process supply chain with respect to materials, production, pack- during which designers engage in abstract thinking to aging, distribution, etc. The third level includes cus- identify the essential problems and to achieve a principle tomers, governments, stockholders, and environmental solution (i.e., concept); referring to conceptual design as organizations. In the context of interior textile design, the part of the design process that “specifies the all levels of stakeholders may influence product life principle solution” (p. 159). Handfield et al. 2001 simi- cycle and sustainability, including product designers/ larly described this step in the process as the point when developers, sales and marketing managers, production designers engage in creative exploration to identify experts, fiber producers, textile mills, product finishers, potential environmental problems and to develop third-party organizations, such as the ISO and the Global DfE-oriented solutions. Product design involves deci- Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), government agencies, sions related to product specifications and may in- and clients or customers, as well as dry cleaners and clude raw material selection and end-of-life planning; product restorers/recyclers. for example, selecting materials that can easily be The environmentally responsible design process model recycled (Handfield et al. 2001). Process design in- developed by Handfield et al. (2001) and the environ- volves decisions related to the product manufacturing mental design criteria or product life cycle assessment and assembly. This step addresses human health and Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 5 of 16 environmental concerns associated with manufactur- lessen consumption or extend length of use) or by ing facilities and may include management of waste- choosing through the selection of materials that can be water and pollution. Package design involves decisions cleaned using non-toxic detergents. The end-of-use regarding how the finished product will be packed for stage refers to product post-use and disposal and often shipping for both purposes of protection and presen- involves goods ending up in landfills or incinerators; tation at retail and may include choosing materials however, designers can lessen the potential human that have little environmental impact, reducing the health and/or environmental impacts at this stage by amount of materials use, and/or modifying the manner in selecting materials that are biodegradable as well as which the product is transported. The final step in prod- avoiding finishes that may release harmful chemicals uct design/development is product launch, which involves or residue during decomposition. The final stage, the evaluation of environmental outcomes using a variety reutilization, involves the completion of the closed- of methods (e.g., established DfE assessment tools, LCA, loop product life cycle. This stage includes efforts to sustainability or regulatory experts, and cost analyses). repurpose products or components parts of products As the research demonstrates, product life cycle assess- for the creation of new products, thereby extending ment is essential to improving environmentally sustainable the life of the original product or product part and production, to reducing the cumulative impact of interior averting the disposal of products in landfills. textiles on human health and the environment, and to supporting engagement with external stakeholders to fur- Methods ther reduce such impacts (Caniato et al. 2012; Chiu and An interpretive, qualitative research method was employed Chu 2012; Goldbach et al. 2003; Levi Strauss & Co. 2015; to explore how professional designers demonstrate Ramani et al. 2010; Sun et al. 2003). Building upon the the understanding of and consideration for the poten- concepts developed by McDonough and Braungart (2002), tial human health and environmental impacts of in- the Designtex model outlines a seven-stage interior textile terior textile products throughout the product life product life cycle, as well as design criteria to be evaluated cycle. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 at each stage, that ensures a “closed loop” approach to in- designers/design managers who specialize in the de- terior textile design. This approach involves purposeful velopment of residential and/or commercial interior decision-making intended to divert resources from land- textiles. fills and to create products that can be recycled or reused, To address the challenge of identifying a representa- either biologically (i.e., composting) or through remanu- tive sample, multiple sampling frames were used to iden- facturing (Environmental Design 2013). tify potential participants for this study. First, Internet The first stage in the Designtex closed-loop cycle is websites and trade magazines dedicated to home fur- the selection of raw materials to be used in finished nishings and interiors were used to identify companies goods, and in order to minimize the negative impacts of and designers engaged in the development of interior finished goods, designers are encouraged to select mate- textiles. Second, trade organizations that list member rials that are renewable, recycled, and/or organic. The companies on their websites and two textile certification second stage of the textile product life cycle involves de- organizations, GOTS and OEKO-TEX (both of which cisions related to fabric construction (e.g., weaving, knit- provide lists of textile companies that comply with their ting) and finishing as well as evaluation to ensure that standards) also were used to identify potential partici- products achieve closed loop qualities. The third stage, pants. The sampling frames produced a list of 50 US production, focuses on the methods and resources used companies that met the criteria for inclusion (i.e., com- to make products and involves efforts/decisions to panies that employed an internal design team and did minimize the use of energy and water as well as to re- not sell materials that were designed out-of-house). Mul- duce the waste that occurs during manufacturing. The tiple attempts (via e-mail and telephone) were made to fourth stage, application, is specific to interior textile contact each company and to invite a design professional products because it involves decisions related to textile to participate in the study. Design professionals from 12 applications and the assembly of finished products (i.e., companies agreed to participate in the study. Represen- methods and materials). For example, the selected tatives from three companies originally agreed to partici- method of textile application or product assembly (e.g., pate and scheduled interview times but later canceled glued, sewn, stapled, or tacked) may dictate if and how and did not reschedule their interviews. Representatives the component parts may be recycled or reused. The from two companies declined to participate in the study fifth stage, useful life, refers to the purchase, use, and citing time constraints or lack of interest. Thirty-three care of textiles. Designers may influence negative im- companies did not respond to multiple invitations to pacts at this stage of the product life cycle by designing participate in the study; resulting in a final response rate multifaceted products (e.g., reversible pillow covers to of 24 %. Given the limited number of participants in this Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 6 of 16 study, findings may not be representative of, or organized through thematic analysis (Shank 2002). A generalizable, to all designers/companies in the resi- constant comparison approach was used to systematic- dential and/or commercial interior textile industry. ally code, categorize, and compare the data throughout All 12 participants were employed by US companies, the analysis process (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Glesne and their experiences varied somewhat with respect to 2011; Strauss and Corbin 1998). Notes taken during the job titles, professional backgrounds, and years in the tex- initial reading of each transcribed interview helped to tile design industry. Participants’ professional titles isolate important fragments of text or units of meaning included company owners, creative directors, design and to identify key concepts and categories in the data managers, and design assistants, and individual experi- (Guetzkow 1950), which were then used to establish a ence in the interior textile industry ranged from 1 to coding guide that was applied to all 12 interviews. As 40 years. At the time of data collection, participants data analysis progressed using the established coding played an integral role in, or had direct influence upon, guide, themes in the narratives were identified and com- the design and development of interior textile products. pared across the transcripts. An audit coder checked the Participants were recruited through company websites, researcher’s application of the coding guide to ensure ac- trade magazines, trade organizations, and industry certi- curacy and consistency in the data analysis. When dis- fication organizations. The companies represented in agreements occurred relative to the coding of the data, this study ranged from small wholesale businesses to differences in coding were negotiated until agreement large contract corporations. Products developed by these was achieved. companies included general use textiles, contract textiles, furniture, and home goods (i.e., bedding, Results and discussion tablecloths). Six of the companies demonstrated a The designer’s narratives provided insight into their DfE approach to the development of interior textile understanding of and consideration for the potential hu- products. man health and environmental impacts of interior tex- An introductory e-mail with an attached cover letter tiles throughout the product life cycle. Content analysis explaining the purpose of the research was sent to each of these designers’ narratives on the topic of sustainabil- textile designer inviting him/her to take part in the ity (or DfE) as it relates to the design and development study. Upon response to the e-mail and consent to take of commercial and residential interior textiles revealed part in the study, each designer was asked to provide six themes that coalesce around the stages of the prod- written responses (via e-mail) to questions pertaining to uct life cycle: raw material selection; textile fabrication; his/her educational background, years of experience textile finishes and treatments; product packaging and in interior textile design, and current employment transportation; consumer purchase, use, and care; and position. In-depth, semi-structured telephone inter- post-consumer use. The designers’ narratives also re- views (30–80 min in duration) were then conducted vealed how engagement with and/or responsibilities with each participant to obtain information about the toward stakeholders supported their efforts toward processes undertaken to design and develop interior creating sustainable interior textile products. textile products. Open-ended questions were used to best “capture the nature and meaning of creative Raw material selection experience from the perspective of the research par- Material selection, specifically choice of fibers, was a ticipants themselves” (Mace 1997, p. 226). Example common theme in the designer’s narratives on product interview questions included, “How would you de- design for interior textiles. When discussing material se- scribe the general steps you take, from start to finish, lection, multiple designers expressed concerns regarding to design a product?,”“What sustainable practices are in- the human health and environmental impacts of interior corporated at your company related to product design and textiles, although such concerns were not usually the development?,” and “What tools/aids/incentives are used primary or singular factor in their decision-making. For to facilitate the consideration of sustainability concerns in example, one participant explained that the decision to the design process?” (see Additional file 1 for the complete use natural and/or synthetic fibers in interior textiles in- interview schedule). volved environmental considerations as well as esthetic Interviews were audio-recorded, and participants’ re- or performance characteristics (i.e., drape): sponses to the interview questions were transcribed verbatim, resulting in three forms of data—written re- I found a completely recycled fabric…50 % organic sponses to questionnaire items, written transcriptions of cotton, 30 % organic hemp and some recycled audio-taped interviews, and the primary researcher’s polyester. There are a lot of folks who feel differently handwritten notes. Upon completion of the data collec- about polyester…but I knew having some polyester in tion, written transcriptions and notes were read and the fabric was going to help as far as draping…So I Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 7 of 16 folded it and tested it and looked at how it would (participant 1). Designers also conveyed understanding of drape. (Participant 1) how material selection may diminish the human health and environmental impacts of interior textiles at later For this designer, the selection of a material con- stages of the product life cycle. One participant stated that structed from organic fibers and recycled polyester pre- material selection was directly influenced by fiber decom- sented an ideal compromise because the desired esthetic position at the end-of-life stage of the product life cycle: or performance is achieved with minimal environmental impact, specifically through the reuse of waste material The materials I’ve chosen to use are kinds of materials through recycling. DfE designers participating in this that literally can be put into a landfill and biodegrade, study also expressed the idea that, at times, esthetic or they’re not just sitting there forever. (Participant 5) performance needs may limit the selection of sustainable raw materials, as conveyed in the following quote: In order to reduce the amount of product that ends up in landfills at the end-of-life stage of the product If we’re looking at a colorful panel, but we need to do life cycle, this designer chose materials that would be it in a recycled polyester…but then a post-industrial decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. recycled polyester doesn’t take color as well as a post-consumer recycled [polyester] might, so it might Textile fabrication: weaving, printing and dyeing deter us from using that yarn because we cannot get A second theme of discussion was textile fabrication, the colors we want. (Participant 6) which involves decisions related to weaving, printing, and dyeing processes. The designers’ narratives revealed This quote suggests that options for recycled raw ma- that textile fabrication methods are selected for a variety terials within the DfE framework may be influenced by of reasons, including market demand; preferences or re- original product use (i.e., industrial vs. consumer); how- quirements for esthetics, pattern design, and quality; a ever, this opinion on esthetic quality may have been in- designer’s experience with various processes, and envir- fluenced strictly by the designer’s individual experience. onmental impacts. Six of the participants represented The performance qualities of post-industrial and post- companies that strictly design woven textiles, whereas consumer recycled materials cannot be generalized be- the other six represented companies that engage in the cause the esthetic quality of the color would likely be design of printed textiles, or both woven and printed dependent upon the specific material and the specific textiles. dye technique. Another participant noted an esthetic With respect to textile fabrication, participants ad- concern with respect to printing on blended fibers. dressed the direct relationship between human health and environmental impact when discussing digital print- Because of the recycled (polyester) content in ing only. Two DfE-oriented designers specifically noted combination with the natural (fiber) content, you get an environmental benefit of using digital textile printing a lot of variation in the color of the fibers and you technology because, unlike screen printing, which re- also get a lot of little slugs in the fibers and because quires cutting large screens based on each design, a it’s only surface printing…if a little slug is raised then digital printer can quickly translate and produce patterns there is no printing there. (Participant 1) with little labor and less fabric for testing. As such, smaller yardage minimums are required for digital print- This designer experienced difficulty with both the ing production and designers are able to print small runs color consistency and the surface quality of a base cloth of their fabrics to sell according to demand, thus redu- due to the fiber choice. The concern evident in this cing the potential for waste in the form of unused fabric. quote is the impact the fiber choice may have on the Although most participants were not directly involved final product, especially when using a surface printing in the selection of textile dyes used in the printing pro- method. cesses, four participants explicitly noted the role of dye The designers’ narratives demonstrated a rich under- and print professionals in improving product sustainabil- standing of the potential human health and environmen- ity, stating that they deliberately opted to work with tex- tal impacts of selected raw materials. When speaking tile mills that used “environmentally” or “water-based” about a textile wall covering, one participant provided a dyes. For example, when asked about the criteria for more comprehensive explanation for material selection, choosing a textile printer, one designer stated “it’s all stating that it “had a really nice sustainability profile, water based (dyes), not solvent based so it still fits my good recycle content, it didn’t contain PVC [polyvinyl parameters of being sustainable and eco” (participant 5). chloride], POAs [polyalphaolefins] or any harsh chemicals, Another designer, who worked in a screen print facility very low VOC [volatile organic compound] emissions” and was directly involved in dye decisions, explained Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 8 of 16 that water-based dyes are less toxic than other dyes, but When discussing textile fabrication, participants fre- noted that water-based dyes may include additives to quently addressed partnerships with NGOs, specifically improve the performance (e.g., colorfastness, stain resist- third-party organizations, such as the Association of ance) of the finished product: Contract Textiles (ACT), the GOTS, and the ISO, which provide standards, testing, certification for textiles, and/ Our pigments are water based and low tox[icity]… or monitoring of environmental and social records for base products are essentially a binder, a thickener and mills. Multiple participants cited third-party organiza- our base pigment, our saturated base pigment, and tions, including factory monitors/inspectors, as import- there are other variable elements…let’s just call them, ant stakeholders in their efforts to minimize the human for lack of a better word-chemicals, that you would health and environmental impacts of interior textile add to things to [create] different properties maybe, products. For example, the ISO’s production standards you add another additive when you print on an and certifications can be used to assess factory perform- already treated material and that helps it suck into the ance related to working conditions and environmental fiber which is kind of like rubbing alcohol. You might impacts: add a mildew [resistant] or UV [protectant] additive so the pigment lasts longer in direct sunlight. For In all honesty in my opinion within the world of most pigments you typically don’t add any of those textiles, whether it’s clothing or textiles it’snot a things, it’s water, it’s a binder, it’s a thickener and a very environmental idea, the dyes into yarn, you’re base color. (Participant 7) getting into factors that are not necessarily great for the environment. And I will not stand here and This quote demonstrates the variety of components say to you that I am fully versed in environmental that maybeintegratedintoadyeaswellasthe po- aspects of products. What I can tell you is that tential for additives to be integrated early in the life every mill that we work with goes through a very cycle of the textile product, including into dyes that strong background check from us in terms of being are considered to be less harmful to human health ISO 9000 certified, I believe is the number [for and the environment. clarification, ISO 14000 and 26000 are the numbers When discussing textile fabrication/product manufac- currently used by the ISO], and everyone is on turing, multiple participants addressed their partnerships board in terms of their practices, what happens in with a key stakeholder group—textile mills and/or pro- their mills, water consumption, recyclability, how duction factories. As noted by one participant, decisions they treat their employees. When we work with to work with mills or factories were often based upon a mills overseaslikeIndia,dotheyhavethe proper shared commitment to the environment: work environment? All of that is signed off on. (Participant 4) From a conscious level of being a provider of textiles we make sure that mills are behaving properly and As another participant noted, partnering with third that’s also on how they deal with their water, their parties provides a greater level of assurance with re- dyes, their machinery and down to are they using spect to the human and environmental impacts of recycled boxes. (Participant 4) production: This quote conveys the textile company’sholistic The (fabrics) are coming from a company that focuses sense of responsibility to ensuring that production on how the workers are treated, how the fibers are practices—all the way through to product packaging being grown, all those kinds of things, but to a certain methods—at the mills they choose to work with are degree you have to rely on third-parties for those aligned with their own company’s values. Another things. (Participant 1) participant, who works for a company that utilizes US manufacturing, touched on the difficulty of find- Explicit in these quotes is the reliance that these de- ing partners overseas that share the company’s signers place upon NGOs in evaluating and monitoring values: factory performance in support of sustainable textile production. As of now we have not done anything in Asia, it’s not With respect to the third-party standards employed out of the question we just haven’t by their own companies, participants’ narratives also found the right partner, there’s a lot of things we don’t revealed some limitations in the scope of current agree with when we try to do business out there. human health and environmental standards and (Participant 6) certifications: Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 9 of 16 It’s hemp that I focus on, you know you can’teven environmental…I think having that tool simplifies it for get hemp certified it’s just not in the parameters not only the mill but the developers…the consumers so [of GOTS]. (Participant 5) they really know what they're buying and having it simple and comprehensive. (Participant 8) The suggestion here is that some companies might be engaged in sustainable practices but do not engage in Finishes and treatments the third-party certification or labeling owing to the fact The third theme identified through content analysis was that not all materials or processes are addressed within textile finishes and treatments. Although textiles can be third-party standards. Further, it is implied that NGOs treated at different points throughout the weaving and could play an even greater role in advancing the devel- printing processes, a majority of the participants ad- opment and production of sustainable interior textile dressed finishes that were applied after the textile is products by expanding the scope of their certifications manufactured. The designers explained that chemical or regulations. One participant specifically noted that finishes are applied to the textiles for a variety of reasons his/her company worked to achieve higher standards including, but not limited to, industry imposed standards than those addressed in third-party certifications: (i.e., flame-retardant, antimicrobial) and market de- mands related to performance (i.e., UV protection, stain We look at third-party certifications as a bench resistance). One participant explained that contract mark of wherewewanttogofrom, we’re really textiles—textiles used in hospitals, offices, and trying to do better than to just hit that [benchmark]. schools—need to be high-performance materials (Participant 6) meaning that they need to be more durable, to with- stand cleaning by harsher chemicals, and to follow Although organizations such as ACT offer sustainabil- state and federal guidelines for safety: ity tools (e.g., checklists and certifications), some com- pliant companies may rely more on self monitoring and, We choose finishes based on the market that we want thus, may be incorporating sustainable practices that ex- to go after…for instance, we have a textile coming out ceed third-party standards. Also, the general lack of en- we want to market towards a higher education forcement of such standards was noted as problematic application and hospitality, both of those fields look with respect to how products are marketed: for high abrasion results and for stain resistance, and kind of bigger, more hefty [fabrics]. It’s probably not What I believe would help is more accountability…I going to get a lot of wear so we probably won’t finish think there should be a third-party team…(that) would it at all. (Participant 8) actually do something when people don’t do what they say they’re doing, putting things out there like Three DfE-oriented designers also discussed the im- vinyl which is a proven human carcinogen and putting portance of exploring nanotechnology, the science of it next to green vinyl or recycled vinyl. (Participant 6) modifying the fiber on a molecular level to increase performance, as an alternative to chemical finishes. This quote highlights the lack of oversight and author- Although these designers seem to suggest that the ap- ity among NGOs to prevent “greenwashing.” This may, plication of nanotechnology to textiles may reduce in part, be attributed to the voluntary nature of partner- negative impacts, it should be acknowledged that the ing with an NGO such as GOTS, wherein the NGO only full human health and environmental impacts of has the authority to certify a company that requests cer- nanomaterials are unknown (i.e., understudied) at this tification. Further, for voluntary certifications such as time (Nanotechnology textiles 2010; Rivera, Seely, and GOTS, the only discipline a company may face for non- Sutherland 2012). Almost all of the participants, how- compliance is the removal of the certification label. ever, acknowledged that the healthiest textiles are the Another participant alluded to the magnitude of fac- ones without any finish treatment: tors that need to be considered when attempting to as- sess sustainability and the need for comprehensive We are really big believers in no finish is the best evaluation system or tool would benefit product de- finish…there are many finishes that won’t allow signers/developers, mills, and consumers: bacteria to grow, but then the finish is bad for the environment, bad for you to inhale so we don’tgo Years down the road [sustainability] might be something that route. (Participant 6) that is more strictly enforced and be a standard…because there are so many different aspects, there are thousands This participant’s position demonstrates the dilemma (of) different aspects that make one textile look really associated with the use of some chemical treatments, Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 10 of 16 which is that although a finish may eliminate one prob- paper and recycled brown pages for my products…I lem, such as bacteria, it also may create other health and use recycled paper from [name omitted] if I’m environmental problems. Another participant echoed sending pages and pages of my eco data to someone. the notion that the “greenest” approach is to avoid (Participant 5) the use of finishes altogether, and explained how one stakeholder group—customers’ concerns over finishes The participants also tended to view the method of at the consumption stage of the product life transportation as outside the scope of their control or cycle—influenced the company’s decisions related to responsibility. One participant, however, addressed its product assortment: transportation issues in a comparison of carbon foot- prints when sourcing cotton fabric in India versus the A few companies offer greener options as far as USA: finishes…but the greenest way to finish a fabric honestly is not to finish it at all. And it really comes Three or four years ago I tried to analyze the carbon down to the market, for instance, in California, a lot footprint of India vs. U.S. production …in the United of people won’t use fabrics that have any finishes so States the fabric was bouncing around from so many we do warehouse a few of our popular fabrics that different locations [but it’s] fully vertical in India. The come with a standard finish, [or] without a finish. footprint in India was much larger, but not as drastic (Participant 8) as you would think. Trucking [U.S.] is so much more carbon intensive than boat, which is how the fabric Packaging and transportation gets to us [from India], by boat and then by train. Product packaging and transportation also was a theme in (Participant 3) the participating designers’ narratives on interior textile products. More than half of the participants indicated that The implication here is that US sourcing, which often their companies sourced materials or manufactured com- involves horizontally integrated production (i.e., weaving, ponent parts of the textile product through mills in the dyeing, and finishing occurring at separate locations), USA, Europe, and/or Asia. When discussing issues of compared to vertically integrated production in another waste, cost, carbon footprint, and chemicals related to country may generate a larger negative environmental sourcing and production, all participants expressed the de- impact during the production and distribution stages of sire to reduce the negative impacts of packaging and the product life cycle owing to greater reliance on truck transportation. However, the designers implied that the transportation throughout the production processes. A ways in which products are packed and shipped were out- study conducted by the US Environmental Protection side their personal control/responsibility, either because Agency (2013) indicating that heavy-duty trucks account the product was packaged at the mill or because it was for 22 %, aircraft accounts for 8 %, and boats account handled by another department in their company. One for only 3 % of the greenhouse gas emissions produced participant expressed awareness of package waste but also by the transportation sector lends some support to this implied that the amount of waste could only be deter- implication. mined at the end of the transportation chain and that the Another concern at the transportation phase of the in- responsibility for how things are packed was in the hands terior textile life cycle was the use of chemicals to pro- of another employee: tect freight while being shipped. One participant claimed that formaldehyde is frequently used in containers Some of our rugs, they’re in a bag inside a bag, inside shipped from countries such as China and India: a bag, and then we re-bag them. It’s something our warehouse manager has been looking at, but it takes Idon’t care if it was organic in India or organic in China looking at something after a container comes in and because it has then been sprayed with formaldehyde broken down and product put on shelves, the amount when it’s brought into this country so it’sreally no of waste is a lot. (Participant 10) longer organic and that is a really amazing awareness to have, especially when the marketplace advertised this as Another participant demonstrated a holistic approach such desired quality…in essence unless it’s been flown to using environmentally sensitive materials for daily in, that’sthe only thingthatpreventsitfrombeing operations, including business communications and sprayed with formaldehyde…that element is very product packaging: important because on top of the carbon footprint, which is huge because you’re shipping something from another I print all my [letter] head on it (hemp paper), I print country, you’re also exposing it to formaldehyde which my business cards on it, I use recycled brown tissue negates the organic element. (Participant 7) Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 11 of 16 Research suggests that fumigants are used in shipping This observation suggests that consumers are devel- containers and can be harmful to the health of workers, oping a more sophisticated understanding of the tex- even those who handle clothing; however, the claim spe- tile product supply chain that may, in turn, inform a cific to organic textiles is not addressed in the current more holistic assessment of the potential human research (Preisser et al. 2012). This quote raises yet an- health and environmental impacts throughout the other issue regarding the human health and environ- product life cycle among designers and consumers mental impact resulting from the selected method of alike. product transport, specifically the potentially harmful The participants also noted an increase in consumer chemicals or other substances that fabrics or products knowledge of issues surrounding the production of sus- might be exposed to during this phase. This participant’s tainable textiles; however, four participants addressed account of chemical use at the transport stage suggests the need to further educate consumers about the human that exposure to chemicals influences human health and health and environmental impacts of interior textile the organic nature of a product, and, therefore, textiles products. One participant specifically noted the need to should only be air freighted when sourced internation- educate consumers about the issue of off-gassing and ally. Further implied is that what happens during the poor indoor air quality, which can occur in the home transportation stage should be transparent to the con- environment through the use of glues and stain-resistant sumer, in particular, for credibility of an organic-labeled finishes on carpeting, upholstered furniture, and other product. textile products: Consumer purchase, use, and care You have the whole process of educating people on… The designers’ narratives with respect to creating more bringing materials into your home that may be off- sustainable interior textiles also addressed consumer gassing and how much time they spend inside. (Par- purchase, use, and care and included observations about ticipant 1) consumer demand, knowledge, and education related to interior textiles. Although the market for sustainable Another participant expressed the importance of con- textile products appears to be relatively small, analysis sumer education in the context of DfE-oriented design revealed a shared perception among participants regard- and specifically, and explicitly, addressed the designers’ ing an increase in consumer demand for, as well as a role as educators: growing availability of, DfE products and materials over time. As the following quote implies, consumers are I think my calling is probably education and doing playing an increasingly important stakeholder role in the more on that because I think what’s really missing is advancement of sustainable interior textiles: that the consumer doesn’t understand why it (sustainability) is important and unless somebody tells There’s more organic cotton, more choices in that story they’re not really going to know. construction of weaves, because customers (Participant 3) are asking for it, even interior designers ask for it. I’m amazed that they say “I’m coming in because you’re The implication here is that education about the offering an eco-fabric and I can’t find it around here”. importance of sustainability would likely be under- I never heard that when I started out, they were like stood and well received if it was provided in a man- “What does it mean? I thought organics were only in ner (i.e., story) that is relevant to the consumer. The food.” (Participant 5) designers’ narratives also conveyed a shared role and responsibility for educating consumers—for providing These designers also perceived an increase in con- the information and knowledge needed so that sumer demand for information about or knowledge of consumers may make fully informed choices relative the potential human health and environmental impacts to the selection of more sustainable interior textile of the textile manufacturing processes: products. Multiple participants addressed the potential im- The textile supply chain is a fairly deep and long one pacts of interior textiles during the use phase of the and accessing data from far upstream has become textile product life cycle, including concerns related more important to our end customers, there’s a lot of to chemicals in the home, indoor air quality, and demand for transparency whether that be around off-gassing. When addressing the question of sus- issues of …how employees are treated…chemical tainability in relation to interior textile product use, inputs and their potential health hazard, it could be one participant specifically noted human health related to energy and carbon aspect. (Participant 11) impacts: Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 12 of 16 It’s (about) making something that lasts that isn’t The U.S. consumer is really, really wasteful and, again, going to affect us in any harmful way, leaching it’s something in our company, we want to make things chemicals or off-gassing in my case. (Participant 5) that you’re going to pass down, we don’t sell products that you’re going to throw away (Participant 10). This participant’s use of the word “my” implies a sense of personal responsibility to create products that will not Explicit here is a commitment to product longevity—- negatively impact consumers’ health. producing products that will last for a long time and Participants’ narratives also addressed the issue of how that may be passed down through generations and consumers care for interior textile products. The major- therefore used and cared for in a treasured manner. ity of participants stated that they provide care recom- Similarly, one participant discussed disassembly as a way mendations for their products, and as demonstrated in by which to make the product last longer: the following quote, these recommendations often in- volved environmental considerations: If they [the furniture] need to be laundered or cleaned they can be dissembled, I kind of have my eye on We have washing instructions on our site which is archival concerns, because I want my work to last as basically using environmentally [friendly] detergent long as it can…I want it to totally be cleanable so like and hang dry when you can, all of our fabric can be most upholstered furniture, you can remove the fabric put in the dryer but for environmental reasons we and clean it. (Participant 2) recommend hang dry. (Participant 3) This designer recognizes the role of consumer care in Such recommendations may encourage consumers to creating a more sustainable product. Disassembling a embrace product care methods that will minimize the piece of furniture to clean the textile is a DfE strategy environmental impacts inherent in the laundering and contradictory to the notion of fast furnishing, which process, thereby engaging stakeholders in a company ef- encourages consumers to discard furniture pieces when fort to improve the sustainability of interior textile they appear dirty and used. products. Multiple participants also discussed product longevity The designers’ narratives further revealed that multiple as a means by which to reduce overconsumption and stakeholders may play a role in informing the establish- waste, using consumer demand for fast fashion to illus- ment of textile care instructions to minimize environ- trate the point: mental impacts: Nobody buys clothing anymore to sit in your closet I recommend that [customers] use an environmentally for ten years, they buy it and get rid of it. Think about friendly dry cleaner and…my drapery guy…doesn’t what that does for the environment, because they can even recommend you have your draperies dry cleaned buy for $10 versus investing in something that will unless you are a smoker, or unless you have animals last a long time. (Participant 4) or unless you have a lot of pollutants in the air that will damage the product. But I also tested the product The suggestion here is that consumers can help to to see if it would machine wash and go through those lessen the environmental impact of textile and clothing steps to try to figure out what I say about this products by buying better quality products that last product, a lot of people look at specifications, some longer. don’t. (Participant 1) Upcycling, the reuse of materials at the post-use stage of the life cycle, as a strategy for waste reduction was Post-consumer use not specifically mentioned by any participants; however, The final theme revealed in participants’ accounts was one participant did address a company-operated textile post-consumer use, which was discussed in terms of product return program as an alternative to post use product longevity, consumer waste, and product re- disposal: turn programs. As might be expected, participants’ discussions of post-consumer use emphasized the We have a responsible return program, you can send consumer as a key stakeholder at this stage of the it back and it will get burnt down and made into product life cycle. Two designers described their energy or something else in the polypropylene line. products as timeless and expressed the hope that (Participant 6) their products would never be disposed of, but rather might be given a second life; an idea that is conveyed In this program, a used textile may be manipulated in in the following quote: one of two ways—by creating energy utilized during Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 13 of 16 textile manufacturing or by reusing the material to social changes of the last 10 to 15 years have given rise create fibers for a new textile. A product return program to greater awareness of sustainability issues, specifically of this type suggests value in building a company- in the textile sector. consumer partnership to encourage the return (rather Although all participants demonstrated knowledge than the discard) of products after use, again helping to with respect to the first three stages of the life cycle, dis- lessen the environmental impact of interior textile cussions regarding human health and environmental im- products. pacts at the later stages of the life cycle (packaging and Another designer focused the discussion of post-use transportation, consumer care, and post-use) tended to strategies on creating new raw materials, the last step of be more theoretical rather than strategic in nature and a closed-loop life cycle: in some cases issues were perceived to be out of the de- signer’s realm of decision-making. Further, participants Our guiding principle of sustainability [is] that things did not directly address human health and environmen- should either be technical nutrients, you know tal impacts in relation to the application stage of the life traveling through a technical cycle or a repeatable cycle, even though this stage has been isolated as an im- technical cycle, or biological nutrients where that portant stage in the interior textile product life cycle product can go back through, can be biodegraded and based upon the Designtex environmental design criteria contribute to compost to feed the next generation of (Environmental Design 2013). wool and ramie for the [new] product. (Participant 12) Findings also revealed differences among the designers employed by DfE-oriented companies and the designers This designer isolated two different post-use strategies employed at more conventional companies with respect based upon type of material—inorganic vs. organic to their apparent understanding of how decisions made (McDonough and Braungart 2002). As this designer during the design process may impact human health and pointed out, inorganic materials may be placed within a the environment throughout the product life cycle. “repeatable cycle” (e.g., reuse or recycling), an approach The designers employed by DfE-oriented companies that may reduce the need to grow or manufacture new expressed more concerns over the human health and raw materials; whereas an organic compound may con- environmental impacts of interior textile products tribute to the growth of a new natural fiber. more often and more comprehensively than did the designers working at conventional companies. This Conclusions was particularly apparent in the discussions of raw Findings from this study provide insight into participat- materials; the designers working for DfE companies ing designers’ perspectives on sustainability with respect discussed fiber qualities with respect to sustainability to the design and development of commercial and resi- and sustainability measures. These designers also con- dential interior textiles. More specifically, findings pro- veyed a greater understanding of how decisions made vide insights into these designers’ understanding of and during the design stage, such as how fiber content, consideration for how decisions made during the design may influence the human health and environmental process for interior textiles may impact human health impacts of interior textiles throughout the product and the environment throughout the product life cycle life cycle. and how these decisions may be influenced by an orga- One key finding from this study was that the applica- nization’s engagement with and/or responsibilities to- tion of sustainable design, development, and production ward its stakeholders. methods, based upon consideration of potential impacts Content analysis revealed that all participants in this throughout the product life cycle, was present, but lim- study demonstrated knowledge of issues pertaining to ited, owing to industry standards and regulation, de- the human health and environmental impact of interior mand for DfE products, availability of products, and textiles at various stages of the product life cycle. Most production methods, and company size and resources. notably, participants demonstrated considerable under- In addition, product performance and quality were, at standing of human health and environmental issues dur- times, perceived to be more important to achieve than ing the preliminary stages of the life cycle, including raw reduced impacts to human health and the environment. material selection, textile fabrication, and finishes and This finding was consistent with the work of Handfield treatments. This finding differs from that of Handfield et al. (2001) in that the environmental impact of raw et al. (2001) who concluded that designers relied on en- materials was viewed as less important than cost and vironmental experts for information and demonstrated availability. very little knowledge of human health and environmen- Even though the human health and environmental im- tal issues as related to their process. One possible reason pacts of interior textile products appeared to be import- for this difference may be that the technological and ant to all participants, it also was apparent that all of Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 14 of 16 these designers worked within the limitations of their Findings provide both theoretical and practical impli- companies and the industry at large. The designer’s per- cations in regard to developing and/or implementing ceived ability to attend to issues of sustainability at indi- sustainable strategies to reduce human health and envir- vidual stages of the product life cycle was influenced by onmental impacts throughout the life cycle of interior company size (i.e., amount of employees, resources), textile products. First, findings provide support for with participants working for larger companies were stakeholder theory (Freeman 1984) in that participants more likely to have separate departments to investigate in this study demonstrated a capacity to implement and/ particular points in the life cycle, such as addressing the or enhance sustainable methods to product design and end of use stage by implementing responsible return development with the help of industry partners and at- programs and having in house remanufacturing capabil- tention to consumer demand and preferences. Further, ities. Participants also expressed frustration in their participants noted their reliance upon outside groups, inability to address issues at certain life cycle stages such as NGOs, to assist in holistic industry change, as owing to company policy despite demonstrating personal demonstrated through calls for enhanced third-party knowledge of human health and environmental impacts, standards, increased transparency, and enforced ac- as exhibited in one participant’s frustration of the over- countability to improve the current human health and use of plastic packaging for transport. environmental impacts of the textile industry. One gen- The designers’ narratives revealed company engage- eral implication of this study is that interior textile de- ment with and/or responsibilities toward stakeholders, signers possess considerable knowledge with respect to primarily consumers, textile mills, and NGOs. Perceived the human health and environmental issues related to responsibilities toward consumers were particularly ap- product design, development, and production as well as parent when addressing fabric finishes and treatments. increased understanding of the role that designers may To this end, some companies provided textiles with and play in mitigating the negative impacts of interior tex- without finishes to comply with consumer demand, and tiles throughout the product life cycle. Application of the designers who chose not to use performance- this knowledge and understanding to decision-making enhancing finishes expressed the need to educate con- during the design process has the potential to provide sumers about the human health and environmental dan- economic and social benefits to companies and stake- gers of textile finishes. At times, engagement with holders alike. Another, more specific, implication is that stakeholders both supported and hindered company ef- designers and companies engaged in the development of forts toward creating sustainable interior textile prod- interior textile products may enhance overall product ucts. For example, companies often rely on third-party sustainability by giving more attention to how decisions organizations for textile testing in support of sustainable made during the design process impact human health measures; however, existing limitations in testing may and the environment at the later stages of the life cycle, restrict overall efforts to improve upon sustainability. especially the application stage of the life cycle. For instance, as one participant noted, GOTS does not One limitation of this study is the size of the sample; provide a standard for hemp. conclusions are based upon insights gained from only 12 Engagement with and/or responsibilities toward stake- designers of interior textile products. As such, findings holders was in part influenced by the size of the com- from this study may not be representative of or pany’s financial resources and product demand. Because generalizable to all designers/companies in the residen- smaller DfE-oriented companies were producing less tial and/or commercial interior textile industry. A chal- material, and therefore could not meet the higher mini- lenge to gathering data for the present study was gaining mum required by some mills, they had fewer choices access to individuals or companies in the residential with respect to mill and sourcing partnerships and less and/or commercial interior textile industry. The use of opportunity to engage in research and development. As multiple sampling frames to identify participants was a result, the consideration of human health and environ- imperfect owing to the fact that a single, exhaustive list mental impacts within the designer’s decision-making of US residential and/or commercial interior textile tended to be influenced more by the limited selection of companies was not available. Also, no response from materials and manufacturing partners. Further, the de- some companies and decision not to participate in the signers employed at DfE-oriented companies appeared study owing to time constraints or lack of interest by to place greater emphasis on relationships with stake- other companies limited the size of the sample. A larger holders, including fiber producers, textile mills, and sample may have provided additional perspectives on product printers, and the role that these entities play in the how decisions made during the design process for minimizing the human health and environmental im- interior textiles may impact human health and the envir- pacts of interior textile product than did the designers onment throughout the product life cycle and how these working at conventional companies. decisions may be influenced by an organization’s Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 15 of 16 engagement with and/or responsibilities toward its Birtwistle, G, & Moore, CM (2007). Fashion clothing—where does it all end up? International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, stakeholders. Another limitation of this study is that all 35(3), 210–216. of the findings are based upon self-reported data, most Bras, B (1997). 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An exploration of designers’ perspectives on human health and environmental impacts of interior textiles

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Springer Journals
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Copyright © 2016 by Calamari et al.
Subject
Chemistry; Textile Engineering; Environmental Management; Sustainable Development; Industrial Chemistry/Chemical Engineering; Characterization and Evaluation of Materials; Engineering Economics, Organization, Logistics, Marketing
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10.1186/s40689-016-0020-7
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Abstract

Fast fashion and fast furnishings contribute to the unsustainability of the textile industry in multiple ways, and the deleterious impacts of fast furnishings, in particular, have encouraged some companies to embrace more holistic and sustainable approaches to interior textile design. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore designers’ perspectives on if and how decisions made during the design process for interior textiles may impact human health and the environment throughout the product life cycle, and if and how these decisions may be influenced by the engagement with and/or responsibilities toward stakeholders. This research was informed by multiple frameworks, including the design for the environment (DfE), product life cycle assessment (LCA), and stakeholder theory. Data were collected using an interpretive, qualitative research method that involved in-depth interviews with 12 US designers/design managers who specialize in the development of residential and/or commercial interior textiles. Findings revealed that participants demonstrated professional understanding of human health and environmental issues during the preliminary stages of the life cycle, including raw material selection, textile fabrication, and finishes and treatments, whereas understanding of such issues at the later stages of the life cycle (packaging and transportation, consumer care, and post use) tended to be more theoretical rather than strategic. Findings also revealed differences among designers employed by DfE-oriented companies and designers employed at more conventional companies with respect to their apparent understanding of how decisions made during the design process may impact human health and the environment throughout the product life cycle. This research contributes to our understanding of the role that designers may play in mitigating the negative impacts of interior textiles throughout the product life cycle. A limitation of this study is the size of the sample; conclusions are based upon the insights gained from 12 designers of interior textile products, and thus may not be generalizable to all designers/companies in the residential and/or commercial interior textile industry. Background materials and chemical runoff during the manufacturing During the twentieth century, a manufacturing strategy process have a direct, negative impact on the environ- known as planned obsolescence was implemented to en- ment, which, in turn, may endanger the health of courage the design of products that decline in function workers, community members, and consumers. Within or go out of fashion after a relatively short period of use the global textile and clothing industry, planned obsoles- (Whiteley 1987). Although products designed using a cence is supported by growing consumer demand for planned obsolescence strategy provide some economic luxury goods and a quick response manufacturing model benefits for the manufacturer, such products have the (Niinim ki 2015). Planned obsolescence has become so potential to negatively impact human health and the commonplace in the industry over the last 20 years that environment through all stages of their life cycle. For the term fast fashion has been coined to specifically de- example, pesticides used during the cultivation of raw note low-cost clothing that imitates luxury fashion trends and encourages disposability (Joy et al. 2012). * Correspondence: Karen.Hyllegard@colostate.edu More recently, the term fast furnishings has been applied Department of Design and Merchandising, Colorado State University, 324 to the design of low-cost home/soft furnishings, which Gifford Bldg. (1574), Fort Collins, CO 80523-1574, USA © 2016 Calamari et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 2 of 16 similarly involves shortened cycles in the manufacturing, Few studies have addressed the human health and en- marketing, and consumption of residential and commer- vironmental impacts generated by textile products across cial interior textile products such as upholstery, window the product life cycle or how these impacts might be treatments, carpet/rugs, bedding, and decorative pillows, mitigated by the decisions made at the design stage of and likewise can have deleterious impacts on human the product life cycle, including decisions to recycle and health and the natural environment (Araji and Shakour reuse materials. Further, most of these studies have fo- 2013; Rastogi 2009; Wright et al. 2008). cused on apparel products or specifically on textile dyes The advent of fast fashion and fast furnishings con- and other finishes (Gam et al. 2011; Pammi et al. 2012; tributes to the unsustainability of the textile industry Wright et al. 2008). Dissemination of findings from the in multiple ways, including the overuse of natural re- present study may help to foster the integration of more sources, escalating pollution/waste, the presence of sustainable practices in the production and consumption toxins and carcinogens in fabrics, and the growing of interior textile products, which, in turn, will mitigate volume of clothing and textile goods that end up in some of the negative impacts of these products on hu- landfills or incinerators (Birtwistle and Moore 2007; man health and the environment. Jackson 2014; Whitehead 2014). It is the deleterious It is well documented that textile products generate impacts of fast furnishings, in particular, that have deleterious human health and environmental impacts encouraged some companies to embrace more holis- throughout the product life cycle, from raw material tic and sustainable approaches to interior textile cultivation to the disposal of finished goods (Gam and design. One such approach—design for the environ- Banning 2011; Gam et al. 2009; Giudice et al. 2005; ment (DfE)—is a design philosophy or process that Laitala and Boks 2012; Niinimäki and Hassi 2011; Stegall considers the economic, health, and environmental 2006). Such deleterious impacts often involve inputs and impacts associated with a product across its life outcomes specific to chemical use, indoor air quality, cycle and that emphasizes the use of safe and and energy and water consumption. For example, the sustainable materials, features, and processes (Kim production of conventional cotton involves the use of 2010; Fiksel 1996; Mackenzie 1991; Niinim ki 2006; large amounts of pesticides and insecticides, some of Ramani et al. 2010; Sun et al. 2003; Yang et al. which remain in the finished textile product throughout 2011). As such, the purpose of this study was to ex- its life cycle (Chen and Burns 2006). Additionally, textile plore designers’ understanding of, and consideration production processes, such as scouring, dyeing, and fin- for, sustainability (or DfE) as it relates to the design ishing, are often performed with chemicals that are and development of commercial and residential interior harmful to human health and the environment (Araji textiles. More specifically, the aim was to gain insight into and Shakour 2013; Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Thiry designers’ perspectives on if and how decisions made 2005). Chemical finishes and adhesives applied during during the design process for interior textiles may impact the production stage (e.g., stain and flame retardants) human health and the environment throughout the prod- may be released into the environment during the later uct life cycle and if and how these decisions may be influ- stages of product consumption and disposal. For ex- enced by engagement with and/or responsibilities toward ample, decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is a hazard- diverse stakeholder groups. ous chemical commonly used as a flame retardant finish This study contributes to our understanding of the for interior furnishings that can seep into the ground role that designers may play in mitigating the negative during its slow decomposition and thereby negatively impacts generated by interior textiles throughout the impact the health of humans and wildlife (Tremblay product life cycle, which is important owing to the size et al. 1999; Wright et al. 2008). Despite the regulation of and scope of the textile industry and its impact on hu- hazardous chemicals in the USA and Europe, much of man health and the environment. Driven by consumer the world’s textile manufacturing has moved to countries demand worldwide, the value of the global textile indus- where the environmental standards are less strict and try (i.e., yarns, fabrics, and finishes) continues to rise and hazardous chemicals are more likely to be used during will reach $791 billion ($US) in 2016 (Lu 2015). Simul- production (Abreu et al. 2012; Niinimäki and Hassi taneously, the industry has become one of the five lar- 2011). The use of these chemicals can be harmful to gest contributors to CO emissions in the USA and an workers who handle the fiber and fabrics during produc- even larger contributor in the developing world (Dev tion (Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Goldbach et al. 2009; Oecotextiles 2009). Research on the negative im- 2003) as well as to community members who may be ex- pacts of interior textiles has often focused on singular posed to contaminated water supplies owing to the lack outcomes, such as contamination of indoor air quality of proper water treatment facilities (Chen and Burns attributed to such products (e.g., Coggon 1996; Ip et al. 2006; Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; Goldbach et al. 2003; Tremblay et al. 1999). 2003). Chemicals used in packaging textiles for transport Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 3 of 16 also may pose health risks to the workers who apply the including conventionally grown cotton (Muthu et al. chemicals, unload the shipment, and remove the prod- 2012). Similarly, desizing, scouring, bleaching, merceris- ucts for retail display (Cobbing and Ruffinengo 2013; ing, dyeing, printing, and finishing during the textile Preisser et al. 2012). Additionally, the transportation of manufacturing process requires vast amounts of water, materials from one factory (or country) to another and subsequently generates significant amounts of contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (Caniato et al. wastewater and the need for water recovery systems 2012). The use of potentially harmful chemicals during (Chen and Burns 2006). The growing demand for and the laundering process (e.g., toxic chemicals in fabric overconsumption of textile products, and the amount of softeners, dryer sheets, and dry cleaning solvents) fur- energy and water used to care for these products, further ther exacerbates the environmental impacts of interior contribute to the aggregate impact on human health and textiles (Chen and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; Laitala et al. the environment (Chen and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; 2011). Lastly, the disposal of textile goods results in 15.1 Laitala and Boks 2012; Laitala et al. 2011; Saxce et al. million tons of waste in the US landfills annually (US 2012). Over the past 20 years, the increased number of Environmental Protection Agency 2015), which is of sig- inexpensive home furnishing retailers in the marketplace nificant concern because as these textiles decompose, (e.g., IKEA, Home Goods) and the growing merchandise methane, a potent greenhouse gas, releases into the en- assortments in home furnishing found among mass mer- vironment and dyes and other chemicals leach into the chandisers, such as Walmart and Target, has heightened soil potentially harming humans and wildlife. Although consumer demand for fast furnishings. The production textile reuse and recycling can be less harmful to the en- of these goods, including the transportation of raw ma- vironment than the manufacturing of new products from terials and finished goods from one factory (or country) raw materials (Woolridge et al. 2006), the Environmental to another contributes to energy consumption (Caniato Protection Agency reports that only 15 % of all US et al. 2012). In addition to the volume of textile produc- textile waste (roughly 5 % of total municipal waste), tion and consumption, the amount of energy and water was recovered for recycling in 2013 (US Environmental used to care for interior textile products adds to the Protection Agency 2015). overall environmental impact of these products (Chen Another concern that arises during the use of interior and Burns 2006; Hu 2012; Laitala et al. 2011). textiles and fast furnishings is the negative impact on in- door air quality (Araji and Shakour 2013; Daisey et al. Conceptual framework 2003; Tremblay et al. 1999). Studies examining interior This research was informed by scholarly conceptuali- spaces with high concentrations of furniture, such as zations of sustainable product design processes that schools and offices, have found that poor indoor air incorporate principles of DfE, product life cycle as- quality also can cause “sick building syndrome” a phys- sessment (LCA), and stakeholder theory (Freeman ical reaction to indoor air quality usually in the form of 1984). DfE is a term that was introduced in the 1990s fatigue and respiratory problems (Jaakkola et al. 1999). to encourage environmental awareness and action Three key features of interior furnishings that contribute related to a company’s product development efforts to sick building syndrome are chemicals contained in (Fiksel 1996). Since that time, DfE has grown to em- the materials, chemicals on the surface of materials, and body a philosophy and practice that engages designers the release of chemicals during the “gas phase” through in the consideration and mitigation of the negative product usage (Uhdea and Salthammer 2007). Contam- impacts that a product creates on human health and ination may occur over time as interior furnishings com- the environment (Fiksel 1996; Fuad-Luke 2009; monly “off-gas,” that is, as they release chemicals into Graedel and Allenby 1996; Kim 2010; Mackenzie 1991; the indoor environment, in part, due to the chemical fin- Papanek 1995; Niinimäki 2006; Ramani et al. 2010; Stegall ishes applied during manufacturing (Jaakkola et al. 1999; 2006). DfE requires designers or engineers to consider the Thiry 2005). Further, textile wall coverings and carpet environmental impact of the product development can trap allergens such as mites and molds and may process across the product life cycle, with the understand- contain trace amounts of formaldehyde (Tremblay et al. ing that environmental concerns need to be addressed 1999). In combination with poor ventilation or environ- during the initial design stage of the process (Billatos and mental changes (e.g., humidity), these contaminants can Basaly 1997). To encourage a life cycle approach to prod- negatively impact human health (Jaakkola et al. 1999; uct development, various guidelines and comprehensive Uhdea and Salthammer 2007). models based upon DfE principles have been developed to The use of organic cotton in the production of textile reduce the environmental impacts caused by the product goods mitigates the environmental impact some; how- development process, as have systems or tools for evaluat- ever, the cultivation of organic cotton requires an enor- ing the impact of finished products (see Billatos and mous amount of water in comparison to other fibers, Basaly 1997; Bras 1997; Fiksel 1996; Fuad-Luke 2002; Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 4 of 16 Handfield et al. 2001; Kamide et al. 2013; Keoleian and model employed by Designtex specifically for interior Menerey 1993; Leal-Yepes 2013; Sun et al. 2003). Further, textiles (Environmental Design 2013) served as the inte- DfE principles tend to be implemented by large manufac- grated conceptual framework for this study. Together, turers that have the resources to engage in such efforts these models provided the basis for understanding how and the clout to require suppliers to comply with their ef- decisions made during the design process for interior forts as well as by the establishment of international stan- textiles may impact human health and the environment dards, such as International Standards Organization (ISO) throughout the product life cycle and how these 14000, that provide companies with specific tools for decisions may be influenced by an organization’s managing their environmental responsibilities (Bras 1997). engagement with and/or responsibilities toward its The notion that organizations have responsibilities to- stakeholders. Although multiple authors (e.g., Keoleian ward society that go beyond their legal obligations and and Menerey 1993; Mackenzie 1991; Pahl and Beitz 1988) economic interests (Carroll 1991) has prompted re- have contributed to our understanding of the conceptual searchers to explore social responsibility, sustainability, design and design for the environment dating back to and related terms (e.g., ethical fashion) in the context of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Handfield et al.’s the global textiles and clothing industry. Although defi- (2001) environmentally responsible design process nitions for these terms vary somewhat, they all address model was employed in the present study because it the social, environmental, and economic well-being of incorporates a DfE orientation that was specially applied multiple stakeholders and are often used interchangeably to a manufacturer of office furniture (a textile-related in the literature (Dickson and Eckman 2006; Joergens product category), and as such, it provided a context by 2006; Niinimäki 2006; Niinimäki 2015). Stakeholder the- which to explore the design process for interior textiles. ory posits that businesses have distinct obligations and The model is based upon three propositions about envir- responsibilities toward multiple groups that may influ- onmentally responsible or ecologically sustainable organi- ence managerial decision-making, including decisions zations (ESOs). First, designers are given environmental related to sustainability (Freeman 1984; Sun et al. 2003; objectives and goals for product design. Second, ESOs em- Zakhem et al. 2008). Establishing long-term relation- ploy systems to explicitly consider and measure environ- ships with various stakeholders—employees, suppliers, mental objectives or criteria at key points throughout the competitors, governments, NGOs, consumers, and product design process. Third, ESOs integrate environ- communities—can support efforts toward sustainabil- mental considerations into the design process by measur- ity through the creation of new opportunities for ing environmental outcomes and incorporating outcomes businesses and greater value for stakeholders (Levi into strategic planning (Handfield et al. 2001). Strauss & Co. 2015; Niinim ki 2015; Sun et al. 2003). The present study was informed by the second prop- Behrendt et al. (1997) explained that three levels of stake- osition, which focuses directly upon product design/de- holders are involved in the life cycle design, and each level velopment and the idea that environmental objectives or is distinguished by the importance of the stakeholders’ criteria can be encouraged and evaluated throughout the involvement. The first level includes company personnel, design process; it is explained as a five-step process: con- such as product designers and developers, product cept, product design, process design, package design, managers, sales and marketing managers, and environ- and product launch (Handfield et al. 2001). Pahl and mental and safety experts. The second level of stake- Beitz (1988) characterized conceptual design as an inte- holders includes external parties that support the product gral part (i.e., primary phase) of the design process supply chain with respect to materials, production, pack- during which designers engage in abstract thinking to aging, distribution, etc. The third level includes cus- identify the essential problems and to achieve a principle tomers, governments, stockholders, and environmental solution (i.e., concept); referring to conceptual design as organizations. In the context of interior textile design, the part of the design process that “specifies the all levels of stakeholders may influence product life principle solution” (p. 159). Handfield et al. 2001 simi- cycle and sustainability, including product designers/ larly described this step in the process as the point when developers, sales and marketing managers, production designers engage in creative exploration to identify experts, fiber producers, textile mills, product finishers, potential environmental problems and to develop third-party organizations, such as the ISO and the Global DfE-oriented solutions. Product design involves deci- Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), government agencies, sions related to product specifications and may in- and clients or customers, as well as dry cleaners and clude raw material selection and end-of-life planning; product restorers/recyclers. for example, selecting materials that can easily be The environmentally responsible design process model recycled (Handfield et al. 2001). Process design in- developed by Handfield et al. (2001) and the environ- volves decisions related to the product manufacturing mental design criteria or product life cycle assessment and assembly. This step addresses human health and Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 5 of 16 environmental concerns associated with manufactur- lessen consumption or extend length of use) or by ing facilities and may include management of waste- choosing through the selection of materials that can be water and pollution. Package design involves decisions cleaned using non-toxic detergents. The end-of-use regarding how the finished product will be packed for stage refers to product post-use and disposal and often shipping for both purposes of protection and presen- involves goods ending up in landfills or incinerators; tation at retail and may include choosing materials however, designers can lessen the potential human that have little environmental impact, reducing the health and/or environmental impacts at this stage by amount of materials use, and/or modifying the manner in selecting materials that are biodegradable as well as which the product is transported. The final step in prod- avoiding finishes that may release harmful chemicals uct design/development is product launch, which involves or residue during decomposition. The final stage, the evaluation of environmental outcomes using a variety reutilization, involves the completion of the closed- of methods (e.g., established DfE assessment tools, LCA, loop product life cycle. This stage includes efforts to sustainability or regulatory experts, and cost analyses). repurpose products or components parts of products As the research demonstrates, product life cycle assess- for the creation of new products, thereby extending ment is essential to improving environmentally sustainable the life of the original product or product part and production, to reducing the cumulative impact of interior averting the disposal of products in landfills. textiles on human health and the environment, and to supporting engagement with external stakeholders to fur- Methods ther reduce such impacts (Caniato et al. 2012; Chiu and An interpretive, qualitative research method was employed Chu 2012; Goldbach et al. 2003; Levi Strauss & Co. 2015; to explore how professional designers demonstrate Ramani et al. 2010; Sun et al. 2003). Building upon the the understanding of and consideration for the poten- concepts developed by McDonough and Braungart (2002), tial human health and environmental impacts of in- the Designtex model outlines a seven-stage interior textile terior textile products throughout the product life product life cycle, as well as design criteria to be evaluated cycle. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 at each stage, that ensures a “closed loop” approach to in- designers/design managers who specialize in the de- terior textile design. This approach involves purposeful velopment of residential and/or commercial interior decision-making intended to divert resources from land- textiles. fills and to create products that can be recycled or reused, To address the challenge of identifying a representa- either biologically (i.e., composting) or through remanu- tive sample, multiple sampling frames were used to iden- facturing (Environmental Design 2013). tify potential participants for this study. First, Internet The first stage in the Designtex closed-loop cycle is websites and trade magazines dedicated to home fur- the selection of raw materials to be used in finished nishings and interiors were used to identify companies goods, and in order to minimize the negative impacts of and designers engaged in the development of interior finished goods, designers are encouraged to select mate- textiles. Second, trade organizations that list member rials that are renewable, recycled, and/or organic. The companies on their websites and two textile certification second stage of the textile product life cycle involves de- organizations, GOTS and OEKO-TEX (both of which cisions related to fabric construction (e.g., weaving, knit- provide lists of textile companies that comply with their ting) and finishing as well as evaluation to ensure that standards) also were used to identify potential partici- products achieve closed loop qualities. The third stage, pants. The sampling frames produced a list of 50 US production, focuses on the methods and resources used companies that met the criteria for inclusion (i.e., com- to make products and involves efforts/decisions to panies that employed an internal design team and did minimize the use of energy and water as well as to re- not sell materials that were designed out-of-house). Mul- duce the waste that occurs during manufacturing. The tiple attempts (via e-mail and telephone) were made to fourth stage, application, is specific to interior textile contact each company and to invite a design professional products because it involves decisions related to textile to participate in the study. Design professionals from 12 applications and the assembly of finished products (i.e., companies agreed to participate in the study. Represen- methods and materials). For example, the selected tatives from three companies originally agreed to partici- method of textile application or product assembly (e.g., pate and scheduled interview times but later canceled glued, sewn, stapled, or tacked) may dictate if and how and did not reschedule their interviews. Representatives the component parts may be recycled or reused. The from two companies declined to participate in the study fifth stage, useful life, refers to the purchase, use, and citing time constraints or lack of interest. Thirty-three care of textiles. Designers may influence negative im- companies did not respond to multiple invitations to pacts at this stage of the product life cycle by designing participate in the study; resulting in a final response rate multifaceted products (e.g., reversible pillow covers to of 24 %. Given the limited number of participants in this Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 6 of 16 study, findings may not be representative of, or organized through thematic analysis (Shank 2002). A generalizable, to all designers/companies in the resi- constant comparison approach was used to systematic- dential and/or commercial interior textile industry. ally code, categorize, and compare the data throughout All 12 participants were employed by US companies, the analysis process (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Glesne and their experiences varied somewhat with respect to 2011; Strauss and Corbin 1998). Notes taken during the job titles, professional backgrounds, and years in the tex- initial reading of each transcribed interview helped to tile design industry. Participants’ professional titles isolate important fragments of text or units of meaning included company owners, creative directors, design and to identify key concepts and categories in the data managers, and design assistants, and individual experi- (Guetzkow 1950), which were then used to establish a ence in the interior textile industry ranged from 1 to coding guide that was applied to all 12 interviews. As 40 years. At the time of data collection, participants data analysis progressed using the established coding played an integral role in, or had direct influence upon, guide, themes in the narratives were identified and com- the design and development of interior textile products. pared across the transcripts. An audit coder checked the Participants were recruited through company websites, researcher’s application of the coding guide to ensure ac- trade magazines, trade organizations, and industry certi- curacy and consistency in the data analysis. When dis- fication organizations. The companies represented in agreements occurred relative to the coding of the data, this study ranged from small wholesale businesses to differences in coding were negotiated until agreement large contract corporations. Products developed by these was achieved. companies included general use textiles, contract textiles, furniture, and home goods (i.e., bedding, Results and discussion tablecloths). Six of the companies demonstrated a The designer’s narratives provided insight into their DfE approach to the development of interior textile understanding of and consideration for the potential hu- products. man health and environmental impacts of interior tex- An introductory e-mail with an attached cover letter tiles throughout the product life cycle. Content analysis explaining the purpose of the research was sent to each of these designers’ narratives on the topic of sustainabil- textile designer inviting him/her to take part in the ity (or DfE) as it relates to the design and development study. Upon response to the e-mail and consent to take of commercial and residential interior textiles revealed part in the study, each designer was asked to provide six themes that coalesce around the stages of the prod- written responses (via e-mail) to questions pertaining to uct life cycle: raw material selection; textile fabrication; his/her educational background, years of experience textile finishes and treatments; product packaging and in interior textile design, and current employment transportation; consumer purchase, use, and care; and position. In-depth, semi-structured telephone inter- post-consumer use. The designers’ narratives also re- views (30–80 min in duration) were then conducted vealed how engagement with and/or responsibilities with each participant to obtain information about the toward stakeholders supported their efforts toward processes undertaken to design and develop interior creating sustainable interior textile products. textile products. Open-ended questions were used to best “capture the nature and meaning of creative Raw material selection experience from the perspective of the research par- Material selection, specifically choice of fibers, was a ticipants themselves” (Mace 1997, p. 226). Example common theme in the designer’s narratives on product interview questions included, “How would you de- design for interior textiles. When discussing material se- scribe the general steps you take, from start to finish, lection, multiple designers expressed concerns regarding to design a product?,”“What sustainable practices are in- the human health and environmental impacts of interior corporated at your company related to product design and textiles, although such concerns were not usually the development?,” and “What tools/aids/incentives are used primary or singular factor in their decision-making. For to facilitate the consideration of sustainability concerns in example, one participant explained that the decision to the design process?” (see Additional file 1 for the complete use natural and/or synthetic fibers in interior textiles in- interview schedule). volved environmental considerations as well as esthetic Interviews were audio-recorded, and participants’ re- or performance characteristics (i.e., drape): sponses to the interview questions were transcribed verbatim, resulting in three forms of data—written re- I found a completely recycled fabric…50 % organic sponses to questionnaire items, written transcriptions of cotton, 30 % organic hemp and some recycled audio-taped interviews, and the primary researcher’s polyester. There are a lot of folks who feel differently handwritten notes. Upon completion of the data collec- about polyester…but I knew having some polyester in tion, written transcriptions and notes were read and the fabric was going to help as far as draping…So I Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 7 of 16 folded it and tested it and looked at how it would (participant 1). Designers also conveyed understanding of drape. (Participant 1) how material selection may diminish the human health and environmental impacts of interior textiles at later For this designer, the selection of a material con- stages of the product life cycle. One participant stated that structed from organic fibers and recycled polyester pre- material selection was directly influenced by fiber decom- sented an ideal compromise because the desired esthetic position at the end-of-life stage of the product life cycle: or performance is achieved with minimal environmental impact, specifically through the reuse of waste material The materials I’ve chosen to use are kinds of materials through recycling. DfE designers participating in this that literally can be put into a landfill and biodegrade, study also expressed the idea that, at times, esthetic or they’re not just sitting there forever. (Participant 5) performance needs may limit the selection of sustainable raw materials, as conveyed in the following quote: In order to reduce the amount of product that ends up in landfills at the end-of-life stage of the product If we’re looking at a colorful panel, but we need to do life cycle, this designer chose materials that would be it in a recycled polyester…but then a post-industrial decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. recycled polyester doesn’t take color as well as a post-consumer recycled [polyester] might, so it might Textile fabrication: weaving, printing and dyeing deter us from using that yarn because we cannot get A second theme of discussion was textile fabrication, the colors we want. (Participant 6) which involves decisions related to weaving, printing, and dyeing processes. The designers’ narratives revealed This quote suggests that options for recycled raw ma- that textile fabrication methods are selected for a variety terials within the DfE framework may be influenced by of reasons, including market demand; preferences or re- original product use (i.e., industrial vs. consumer); how- quirements for esthetics, pattern design, and quality; a ever, this opinion on esthetic quality may have been in- designer’s experience with various processes, and envir- fluenced strictly by the designer’s individual experience. onmental impacts. Six of the participants represented The performance qualities of post-industrial and post- companies that strictly design woven textiles, whereas consumer recycled materials cannot be generalized be- the other six represented companies that engage in the cause the esthetic quality of the color would likely be design of printed textiles, or both woven and printed dependent upon the specific material and the specific textiles. dye technique. Another participant noted an esthetic With respect to textile fabrication, participants ad- concern with respect to printing on blended fibers. dressed the direct relationship between human health and environmental impact when discussing digital print- Because of the recycled (polyester) content in ing only. Two DfE-oriented designers specifically noted combination with the natural (fiber) content, you get an environmental benefit of using digital textile printing a lot of variation in the color of the fibers and you technology because, unlike screen printing, which re- also get a lot of little slugs in the fibers and because quires cutting large screens based on each design, a it’s only surface printing…if a little slug is raised then digital printer can quickly translate and produce patterns there is no printing there. (Participant 1) with little labor and less fabric for testing. As such, smaller yardage minimums are required for digital print- This designer experienced difficulty with both the ing production and designers are able to print small runs color consistency and the surface quality of a base cloth of their fabrics to sell according to demand, thus redu- due to the fiber choice. The concern evident in this cing the potential for waste in the form of unused fabric. quote is the impact the fiber choice may have on the Although most participants were not directly involved final product, especially when using a surface printing in the selection of textile dyes used in the printing pro- method. cesses, four participants explicitly noted the role of dye The designers’ narratives demonstrated a rich under- and print professionals in improving product sustainabil- standing of the potential human health and environmen- ity, stating that they deliberately opted to work with tex- tal impacts of selected raw materials. When speaking tile mills that used “environmentally” or “water-based” about a textile wall covering, one participant provided a dyes. For example, when asked about the criteria for more comprehensive explanation for material selection, choosing a textile printer, one designer stated “it’s all stating that it “had a really nice sustainability profile, water based (dyes), not solvent based so it still fits my good recycle content, it didn’t contain PVC [polyvinyl parameters of being sustainable and eco” (participant 5). chloride], POAs [polyalphaolefins] or any harsh chemicals, Another designer, who worked in a screen print facility very low VOC [volatile organic compound] emissions” and was directly involved in dye decisions, explained Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 8 of 16 that water-based dyes are less toxic than other dyes, but When discussing textile fabrication, participants fre- noted that water-based dyes may include additives to quently addressed partnerships with NGOs, specifically improve the performance (e.g., colorfastness, stain resist- third-party organizations, such as the Association of ance) of the finished product: Contract Textiles (ACT), the GOTS, and the ISO, which provide standards, testing, certification for textiles, and/ Our pigments are water based and low tox[icity]… or monitoring of environmental and social records for base products are essentially a binder, a thickener and mills. Multiple participants cited third-party organiza- our base pigment, our saturated base pigment, and tions, including factory monitors/inspectors, as import- there are other variable elements…let’s just call them, ant stakeholders in their efforts to minimize the human for lack of a better word-chemicals, that you would health and environmental impacts of interior textile add to things to [create] different properties maybe, products. For example, the ISO’s production standards you add another additive when you print on an and certifications can be used to assess factory perform- already treated material and that helps it suck into the ance related to working conditions and environmental fiber which is kind of like rubbing alcohol. You might impacts: add a mildew [resistant] or UV [protectant] additive so the pigment lasts longer in direct sunlight. For In all honesty in my opinion within the world of most pigments you typically don’t add any of those textiles, whether it’s clothing or textiles it’snot a things, it’s water, it’s a binder, it’s a thickener and a very environmental idea, the dyes into yarn, you’re base color. (Participant 7) getting into factors that are not necessarily great for the environment. And I will not stand here and This quote demonstrates the variety of components say to you that I am fully versed in environmental that maybeintegratedintoadyeaswellasthe po- aspects of products. What I can tell you is that tential for additives to be integrated early in the life every mill that we work with goes through a very cycle of the textile product, including into dyes that strong background check from us in terms of being are considered to be less harmful to human health ISO 9000 certified, I believe is the number [for and the environment. clarification, ISO 14000 and 26000 are the numbers When discussing textile fabrication/product manufac- currently used by the ISO], and everyone is on turing, multiple participants addressed their partnerships board in terms of their practices, what happens in with a key stakeholder group—textile mills and/or pro- their mills, water consumption, recyclability, how duction factories. As noted by one participant, decisions they treat their employees. When we work with to work with mills or factories were often based upon a mills overseaslikeIndia,dotheyhavethe proper shared commitment to the environment: work environment? All of that is signed off on. (Participant 4) From a conscious level of being a provider of textiles we make sure that mills are behaving properly and As another participant noted, partnering with third that’s also on how they deal with their water, their parties provides a greater level of assurance with re- dyes, their machinery and down to are they using spect to the human and environmental impacts of recycled boxes. (Participant 4) production: This quote conveys the textile company’sholistic The (fabrics) are coming from a company that focuses sense of responsibility to ensuring that production on how the workers are treated, how the fibers are practices—all the way through to product packaging being grown, all those kinds of things, but to a certain methods—at the mills they choose to work with are degree you have to rely on third-parties for those aligned with their own company’s values. Another things. (Participant 1) participant, who works for a company that utilizes US manufacturing, touched on the difficulty of find- Explicit in these quotes is the reliance that these de- ing partners overseas that share the company’s signers place upon NGOs in evaluating and monitoring values: factory performance in support of sustainable textile production. As of now we have not done anything in Asia, it’s not With respect to the third-party standards employed out of the question we just haven’t by their own companies, participants’ narratives also found the right partner, there’s a lot of things we don’t revealed some limitations in the scope of current agree with when we try to do business out there. human health and environmental standards and (Participant 6) certifications: Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 9 of 16 It’s hemp that I focus on, you know you can’teven environmental…I think having that tool simplifies it for get hemp certified it’s just not in the parameters not only the mill but the developers…the consumers so [of GOTS]. (Participant 5) they really know what they're buying and having it simple and comprehensive. (Participant 8) The suggestion here is that some companies might be engaged in sustainable practices but do not engage in Finishes and treatments the third-party certification or labeling owing to the fact The third theme identified through content analysis was that not all materials or processes are addressed within textile finishes and treatments. Although textiles can be third-party standards. Further, it is implied that NGOs treated at different points throughout the weaving and could play an even greater role in advancing the devel- printing processes, a majority of the participants ad- opment and production of sustainable interior textile dressed finishes that were applied after the textile is products by expanding the scope of their certifications manufactured. The designers explained that chemical or regulations. One participant specifically noted that finishes are applied to the textiles for a variety of reasons his/her company worked to achieve higher standards including, but not limited to, industry imposed standards than those addressed in third-party certifications: (i.e., flame-retardant, antimicrobial) and market de- mands related to performance (i.e., UV protection, stain We look at third-party certifications as a bench resistance). One participant explained that contract mark of wherewewanttogofrom, we’re really textiles—textiles used in hospitals, offices, and trying to do better than to just hit that [benchmark]. schools—need to be high-performance materials (Participant 6) meaning that they need to be more durable, to with- stand cleaning by harsher chemicals, and to follow Although organizations such as ACT offer sustainabil- state and federal guidelines for safety: ity tools (e.g., checklists and certifications), some com- pliant companies may rely more on self monitoring and, We choose finishes based on the market that we want thus, may be incorporating sustainable practices that ex- to go after…for instance, we have a textile coming out ceed third-party standards. Also, the general lack of en- we want to market towards a higher education forcement of such standards was noted as problematic application and hospitality, both of those fields look with respect to how products are marketed: for high abrasion results and for stain resistance, and kind of bigger, more hefty [fabrics]. It’s probably not What I believe would help is more accountability…I going to get a lot of wear so we probably won’t finish think there should be a third-party team…(that) would it at all. (Participant 8) actually do something when people don’t do what they say they’re doing, putting things out there like Three DfE-oriented designers also discussed the im- vinyl which is a proven human carcinogen and putting portance of exploring nanotechnology, the science of it next to green vinyl or recycled vinyl. (Participant 6) modifying the fiber on a molecular level to increase performance, as an alternative to chemical finishes. This quote highlights the lack of oversight and author- Although these designers seem to suggest that the ap- ity among NGOs to prevent “greenwashing.” This may, plication of nanotechnology to textiles may reduce in part, be attributed to the voluntary nature of partner- negative impacts, it should be acknowledged that the ing with an NGO such as GOTS, wherein the NGO only full human health and environmental impacts of has the authority to certify a company that requests cer- nanomaterials are unknown (i.e., understudied) at this tification. Further, for voluntary certifications such as time (Nanotechnology textiles 2010; Rivera, Seely, and GOTS, the only discipline a company may face for non- Sutherland 2012). Almost all of the participants, how- compliance is the removal of the certification label. ever, acknowledged that the healthiest textiles are the Another participant alluded to the magnitude of fac- ones without any finish treatment: tors that need to be considered when attempting to as- sess sustainability and the need for comprehensive We are really big believers in no finish is the best evaluation system or tool would benefit product de- finish…there are many finishes that won’t allow signers/developers, mills, and consumers: bacteria to grow, but then the finish is bad for the environment, bad for you to inhale so we don’tgo Years down the road [sustainability] might be something that route. (Participant 6) that is more strictly enforced and be a standard…because there are so many different aspects, there are thousands This participant’s position demonstrates the dilemma (of) different aspects that make one textile look really associated with the use of some chemical treatments, Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 10 of 16 which is that although a finish may eliminate one prob- paper and recycled brown pages for my products…I lem, such as bacteria, it also may create other health and use recycled paper from [name omitted] if I’m environmental problems. Another participant echoed sending pages and pages of my eco data to someone. the notion that the “greenest” approach is to avoid (Participant 5) the use of finishes altogether, and explained how one stakeholder group—customers’ concerns over finishes The participants also tended to view the method of at the consumption stage of the product life transportation as outside the scope of their control or cycle—influenced the company’s decisions related to responsibility. One participant, however, addressed its product assortment: transportation issues in a comparison of carbon foot- prints when sourcing cotton fabric in India versus the A few companies offer greener options as far as USA: finishes…but the greenest way to finish a fabric honestly is not to finish it at all. And it really comes Three or four years ago I tried to analyze the carbon down to the market, for instance, in California, a lot footprint of India vs. U.S. production …in the United of people won’t use fabrics that have any finishes so States the fabric was bouncing around from so many we do warehouse a few of our popular fabrics that different locations [but it’s] fully vertical in India. The come with a standard finish, [or] without a finish. footprint in India was much larger, but not as drastic (Participant 8) as you would think. Trucking [U.S.] is so much more carbon intensive than boat, which is how the fabric Packaging and transportation gets to us [from India], by boat and then by train. Product packaging and transportation also was a theme in (Participant 3) the participating designers’ narratives on interior textile products. More than half of the participants indicated that The implication here is that US sourcing, which often their companies sourced materials or manufactured com- involves horizontally integrated production (i.e., weaving, ponent parts of the textile product through mills in the dyeing, and finishing occurring at separate locations), USA, Europe, and/or Asia. When discussing issues of compared to vertically integrated production in another waste, cost, carbon footprint, and chemicals related to country may generate a larger negative environmental sourcing and production, all participants expressed the de- impact during the production and distribution stages of sire to reduce the negative impacts of packaging and the product life cycle owing to greater reliance on truck transportation. However, the designers implied that the transportation throughout the production processes. A ways in which products are packed and shipped were out- study conducted by the US Environmental Protection side their personal control/responsibility, either because Agency (2013) indicating that heavy-duty trucks account the product was packaged at the mill or because it was for 22 %, aircraft accounts for 8 %, and boats account handled by another department in their company. One for only 3 % of the greenhouse gas emissions produced participant expressed awareness of package waste but also by the transportation sector lends some support to this implied that the amount of waste could only be deter- implication. mined at the end of the transportation chain and that the Another concern at the transportation phase of the in- responsibility for how things are packed was in the hands terior textile life cycle was the use of chemicals to pro- of another employee: tect freight while being shipped. One participant claimed that formaldehyde is frequently used in containers Some of our rugs, they’re in a bag inside a bag, inside shipped from countries such as China and India: a bag, and then we re-bag them. It’s something our warehouse manager has been looking at, but it takes Idon’t care if it was organic in India or organic in China looking at something after a container comes in and because it has then been sprayed with formaldehyde broken down and product put on shelves, the amount when it’s brought into this country so it’sreally no of waste is a lot. (Participant 10) longer organic and that is a really amazing awareness to have, especially when the marketplace advertised this as Another participant demonstrated a holistic approach such desired quality…in essence unless it’s been flown to using environmentally sensitive materials for daily in, that’sthe only thingthatpreventsitfrombeing operations, including business communications and sprayed with formaldehyde…that element is very product packaging: important because on top of the carbon footprint, which is huge because you’re shipping something from another I print all my [letter] head on it (hemp paper), I print country, you’re also exposing it to formaldehyde which my business cards on it, I use recycled brown tissue negates the organic element. (Participant 7) Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 11 of 16 Research suggests that fumigants are used in shipping This observation suggests that consumers are devel- containers and can be harmful to the health of workers, oping a more sophisticated understanding of the tex- even those who handle clothing; however, the claim spe- tile product supply chain that may, in turn, inform a cific to organic textiles is not addressed in the current more holistic assessment of the potential human research (Preisser et al. 2012). This quote raises yet an- health and environmental impacts throughout the other issue regarding the human health and environ- product life cycle among designers and consumers mental impact resulting from the selected method of alike. product transport, specifically the potentially harmful The participants also noted an increase in consumer chemicals or other substances that fabrics or products knowledge of issues surrounding the production of sus- might be exposed to during this phase. This participant’s tainable textiles; however, four participants addressed account of chemical use at the transport stage suggests the need to further educate consumers about the human that exposure to chemicals influences human health and health and environmental impacts of interior textile the organic nature of a product, and, therefore, textiles products. One participant specifically noted the need to should only be air freighted when sourced internation- educate consumers about the issue of off-gassing and ally. Further implied is that what happens during the poor indoor air quality, which can occur in the home transportation stage should be transparent to the con- environment through the use of glues and stain-resistant sumer, in particular, for credibility of an organic-labeled finishes on carpeting, upholstered furniture, and other product. textile products: Consumer purchase, use, and care You have the whole process of educating people on… The designers’ narratives with respect to creating more bringing materials into your home that may be off- sustainable interior textiles also addressed consumer gassing and how much time they spend inside. (Par- purchase, use, and care and included observations about ticipant 1) consumer demand, knowledge, and education related to interior textiles. Although the market for sustainable Another participant expressed the importance of con- textile products appears to be relatively small, analysis sumer education in the context of DfE-oriented design revealed a shared perception among participants regard- and specifically, and explicitly, addressed the designers’ ing an increase in consumer demand for, as well as a role as educators: growing availability of, DfE products and materials over time. As the following quote implies, consumers are I think my calling is probably education and doing playing an increasingly important stakeholder role in the more on that because I think what’s really missing is advancement of sustainable interior textiles: that the consumer doesn’t understand why it (sustainability) is important and unless somebody tells There’s more organic cotton, more choices in that story they’re not really going to know. construction of weaves, because customers (Participant 3) are asking for it, even interior designers ask for it. I’m amazed that they say “I’m coming in because you’re The implication here is that education about the offering an eco-fabric and I can’t find it around here”. importance of sustainability would likely be under- I never heard that when I started out, they were like stood and well received if it was provided in a man- “What does it mean? I thought organics were only in ner (i.e., story) that is relevant to the consumer. The food.” (Participant 5) designers’ narratives also conveyed a shared role and responsibility for educating consumers—for providing These designers also perceived an increase in con- the information and knowledge needed so that sumer demand for information about or knowledge of consumers may make fully informed choices relative the potential human health and environmental impacts to the selection of more sustainable interior textile of the textile manufacturing processes: products. Multiple participants addressed the potential im- The textile supply chain is a fairly deep and long one pacts of interior textiles during the use phase of the and accessing data from far upstream has become textile product life cycle, including concerns related more important to our end customers, there’s a lot of to chemicals in the home, indoor air quality, and demand for transparency whether that be around off-gassing. When addressing the question of sus- issues of …how employees are treated…chemical tainability in relation to interior textile product use, inputs and their potential health hazard, it could be one participant specifically noted human health related to energy and carbon aspect. (Participant 11) impacts: Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 12 of 16 It’s (about) making something that lasts that isn’t The U.S. consumer is really, really wasteful and, again, going to affect us in any harmful way, leaching it’s something in our company, we want to make things chemicals or off-gassing in my case. (Participant 5) that you’re going to pass down, we don’t sell products that you’re going to throw away (Participant 10). This participant’s use of the word “my” implies a sense of personal responsibility to create products that will not Explicit here is a commitment to product longevity—- negatively impact consumers’ health. producing products that will last for a long time and Participants’ narratives also addressed the issue of how that may be passed down through generations and consumers care for interior textile products. The major- therefore used and cared for in a treasured manner. ity of participants stated that they provide care recom- Similarly, one participant discussed disassembly as a way mendations for their products, and as demonstrated in by which to make the product last longer: the following quote, these recommendations often in- volved environmental considerations: If they [the furniture] need to be laundered or cleaned they can be dissembled, I kind of have my eye on We have washing instructions on our site which is archival concerns, because I want my work to last as basically using environmentally [friendly] detergent long as it can…I want it to totally be cleanable so like and hang dry when you can, all of our fabric can be most upholstered furniture, you can remove the fabric put in the dryer but for environmental reasons we and clean it. (Participant 2) recommend hang dry. (Participant 3) This designer recognizes the role of consumer care in Such recommendations may encourage consumers to creating a more sustainable product. Disassembling a embrace product care methods that will minimize the piece of furniture to clean the textile is a DfE strategy environmental impacts inherent in the laundering and contradictory to the notion of fast furnishing, which process, thereby engaging stakeholders in a company ef- encourages consumers to discard furniture pieces when fort to improve the sustainability of interior textile they appear dirty and used. products. Multiple participants also discussed product longevity The designers’ narratives further revealed that multiple as a means by which to reduce overconsumption and stakeholders may play a role in informing the establish- waste, using consumer demand for fast fashion to illus- ment of textile care instructions to minimize environ- trate the point: mental impacts: Nobody buys clothing anymore to sit in your closet I recommend that [customers] use an environmentally for ten years, they buy it and get rid of it. Think about friendly dry cleaner and…my drapery guy…doesn’t what that does for the environment, because they can even recommend you have your draperies dry cleaned buy for $10 versus investing in something that will unless you are a smoker, or unless you have animals last a long time. (Participant 4) or unless you have a lot of pollutants in the air that will damage the product. But I also tested the product The suggestion here is that consumers can help to to see if it would machine wash and go through those lessen the environmental impact of textile and clothing steps to try to figure out what I say about this products by buying better quality products that last product, a lot of people look at specifications, some longer. don’t. (Participant 1) Upcycling, the reuse of materials at the post-use stage of the life cycle, as a strategy for waste reduction was Post-consumer use not specifically mentioned by any participants; however, The final theme revealed in participants’ accounts was one participant did address a company-operated textile post-consumer use, which was discussed in terms of product return program as an alternative to post use product longevity, consumer waste, and product re- disposal: turn programs. As might be expected, participants’ discussions of post-consumer use emphasized the We have a responsible return program, you can send consumer as a key stakeholder at this stage of the it back and it will get burnt down and made into product life cycle. Two designers described their energy or something else in the polypropylene line. products as timeless and expressed the hope that (Participant 6) their products would never be disposed of, but rather might be given a second life; an idea that is conveyed In this program, a used textile may be manipulated in in the following quote: one of two ways—by creating energy utilized during Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 13 of 16 textile manufacturing or by reusing the material to social changes of the last 10 to 15 years have given rise create fibers for a new textile. A product return program to greater awareness of sustainability issues, specifically of this type suggests value in building a company- in the textile sector. consumer partnership to encourage the return (rather Although all participants demonstrated knowledge than the discard) of products after use, again helping to with respect to the first three stages of the life cycle, dis- lessen the environmental impact of interior textile cussions regarding human health and environmental im- products. pacts at the later stages of the life cycle (packaging and Another designer focused the discussion of post-use transportation, consumer care, and post-use) tended to strategies on creating new raw materials, the last step of be more theoretical rather than strategic in nature and a closed-loop life cycle: in some cases issues were perceived to be out of the de- signer’s realm of decision-making. Further, participants Our guiding principle of sustainability [is] that things did not directly address human health and environmen- should either be technical nutrients, you know tal impacts in relation to the application stage of the life traveling through a technical cycle or a repeatable cycle, even though this stage has been isolated as an im- technical cycle, or biological nutrients where that portant stage in the interior textile product life cycle product can go back through, can be biodegraded and based upon the Designtex environmental design criteria contribute to compost to feed the next generation of (Environmental Design 2013). wool and ramie for the [new] product. (Participant 12) Findings also revealed differences among the designers employed by DfE-oriented companies and the designers This designer isolated two different post-use strategies employed at more conventional companies with respect based upon type of material—inorganic vs. organic to their apparent understanding of how decisions made (McDonough and Braungart 2002). As this designer during the design process may impact human health and pointed out, inorganic materials may be placed within a the environment throughout the product life cycle. “repeatable cycle” (e.g., reuse or recycling), an approach The designers employed by DfE-oriented companies that may reduce the need to grow or manufacture new expressed more concerns over the human health and raw materials; whereas an organic compound may con- environmental impacts of interior textile products tribute to the growth of a new natural fiber. more often and more comprehensively than did the designers working at conventional companies. This Conclusions was particularly apparent in the discussions of raw Findings from this study provide insight into participat- materials; the designers working for DfE companies ing designers’ perspectives on sustainability with respect discussed fiber qualities with respect to sustainability to the design and development of commercial and resi- and sustainability measures. These designers also con- dential interior textiles. More specifically, findings pro- veyed a greater understanding of how decisions made vide insights into these designers’ understanding of and during the design stage, such as how fiber content, consideration for how decisions made during the design may influence the human health and environmental process for interior textiles may impact human health impacts of interior textiles throughout the product and the environment throughout the product life cycle life cycle. and how these decisions may be influenced by an orga- One key finding from this study was that the applica- nization’s engagement with and/or responsibilities to- tion of sustainable design, development, and production ward its stakeholders. methods, based upon consideration of potential impacts Content analysis revealed that all participants in this throughout the product life cycle, was present, but lim- study demonstrated knowledge of issues pertaining to ited, owing to industry standards and regulation, de- the human health and environmental impact of interior mand for DfE products, availability of products, and textiles at various stages of the product life cycle. Most production methods, and company size and resources. notably, participants demonstrated considerable under- In addition, product performance and quality were, at standing of human health and environmental issues dur- times, perceived to be more important to achieve than ing the preliminary stages of the life cycle, including raw reduced impacts to human health and the environment. material selection, textile fabrication, and finishes and This finding was consistent with the work of Handfield treatments. This finding differs from that of Handfield et al. (2001) in that the environmental impact of raw et al. (2001) who concluded that designers relied on en- materials was viewed as less important than cost and vironmental experts for information and demonstrated availability. very little knowledge of human health and environmen- Even though the human health and environmental im- tal issues as related to their process. One possible reason pacts of interior textile products appeared to be import- for this difference may be that the technological and ant to all participants, it also was apparent that all of Calamari and Hyllegard Textiles and Clothing Sustainability (2016) 2:9 Page 14 of 16 these designers worked within the limitations of their Findings provide both theoretical and practical impli- companies and the industry at large. The designer’s per- cations in regard to developing and/or implementing ceived ability to attend to issues of sustainability at indi- sustainable strategies to reduce human health and envir- vidual stages of the product life cycle was influenced by onmental impacts throughout the life cycle of interior company size (i.e., amount of employees, resources), textile products. First, findings provide support for with participants working for larger companies were stakeholder theory (Freeman 1984) in that participants more likely to have separate departments to investigate in this study demonstrated a capacity to implement and/ particular points in the life cycle, such as addressing the or enhance sustainable methods to product design and end of use stage by implementing responsible return development with the help of industry partners and at- programs and having in house remanufacturing capabil- tention to consumer demand and preferences. Further, ities. Participants also expressed frustration in their participants noted their reliance upon outside groups, inability to address issues at certain life cycle stages such as NGOs, to assist in holistic industry change, as owing to company policy despite demonstrating personal demonstrated through calls for enhanced third-party knowledge of human health and environmental impacts, standards, increased transparency, and enforced ac- as exhibited in one participant’s frustration of the over- countability to improve the current human health and use of plastic packaging for transport. environmental impacts of the textile industry. One gen- The designers’ narratives revealed company engage- eral implication of this study is that interior textile de- ment with and/or responsibilities toward stakeholders, signers possess considerable knowledge with respect to primarily consumers, textile mills, and NGOs. Perceived the human health and environmental issues related to responsibilities toward consumers were particularly ap- product design, development, and production as well as parent when addressing fabric finishes and treatments. increased understanding of the role that designers may To this end, some companies provided textiles with and play in mitigating the negative impacts of interior tex- without finishes to comply with consumer demand, and tiles throughout the product life cycle. Application of the designers who chose not to use performance- this knowledge and understanding to decision-making enhancing finishes expressed the need to educate con- during the design process has the potential to provide sumers about the human health and environmental dan- economic and social benefits to companies and stake- gers of textile finishes. At times, engagement with holders alike. Another, more specific, implication is that stakeholders both supported and hindered company ef- designers and companies engaged in the development of forts toward creating sustainable interior textile prod- interior textile products may enhance overall product ucts. For example, companies often rely on third-party sustainability by giving more attention to how decisions organizations for textile testing in support of sustainable made during the design process impact human health measures; however, existing limitations in testing may and the environment at the later stages of the life cycle, restrict overall efforts to improve upon sustainability. especially the application stage of the life cycle. For instance, as one participant noted, GOTS does not One limitation of this study is the size of the sample; provide a standard for hemp. conclusions are based upon insights gained from only 12 Engagement with and/or responsibilities toward stake- designers of interior textile products. As such, findings holders was in part influenced by the size of the com- from this study may not be representative of or pany’s financial resources and product demand. Because generalizable to all designers/companies in the residen- smaller DfE-oriented companies were producing less tial and/or commercial interior textile industry. A chal- material, and therefore could not meet the higher mini- lenge to gathering data for the present study was gaining mum required by some mills, they had fewer choices access to individuals or companies in the residential with respect to mill and sourcing partnerships and less and/or commercial interior textile industry. The use of opportunity to engage in research and development. As multiple sampling frames to identify participants was a result, the consideration of human health and environ- imperfect owing to the fact that a single, exhaustive list mental impacts within the designer’s decision-making of US residential and/or commercial interior textile tended to be influenced more by the limited selection of companies was not available. Also, no response from materials and manufacturing partners. Further, the de- some companies and decision not to participate in the signers employed at DfE-oriented companies appeared study owing to time constraints or lack of interest by to place greater emphasis on relationships with stake- other companies limited the size of the sample. 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Published: Jul 7, 2016

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