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Textiles for survivability & sustainability in COVID

Nov 12, 2020
Textiles for survivability & sustainability in COVID

No other time in history has the spotlight shined so much on textiles for its role in saving lives than at the present times. Textile materials’ capability to filter and destabilise SARS-CoV-2 is attracting a lot of attention, as well as sustainable fibres like cotton for many advanced applications.
 
Coimbatore, India-based Bharathiar University is organising a seven-day international virtual conference to highlight the functional and environmental impacts of textiles. About 300 people have registered for the event, which has speakers from Hong Kong, Finland, United States, India, and Ireland.
 
It was such a pleasure for me to offer a few words of special address on textiles as lifesavers this morning albeit being wee hours (4 AM CST). Professor P Kaliraj, Vice-Chancellor of Bharathiar University, while inaugurating the event emphasised the importance of textiles to developing nations and also its environmental and societal impacts.
 
Today, I introduced 4Es towards textile sustainability taking into consideration the current coronavirus situation. In my opinion, sustainability has to take into account: environment; energy; economy, and employment. The textile sector has to forge ahead looking at interdisciplinary approaches to develop value-added sustainable products such as viral barriers, medical filters, etc.
 
Professor Venkatachalam Arunachalam, a highly respected academic with 42 years of research and teaching experience in the Coimbatore area, who participated in the event stated, “Materials sector should look into cotton and other fibers to develop cost-effective advanced products that can save lives and protect the environment.”
 
The conference will feature topics such as life-saving cotton products, fashion in a circular economy, consumer preferences for ecofriendly products, life cycle analysis, to name a few. It is certain that even with a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2, masks are going to play an important role. And, as such the textile sector has a useful role to play both in the current pandemic well in the future towards the safety of human beings and the planet.

By Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University