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Kandidatuppsatser i miljövetenskap 018-2019

Campus Gotland

Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet

Uppsala Universitet, Campus Gotland





Neema Tindwa

Kandidatuppsats i miljövetenskap 15 hp, 2019

Handledare: Magnus Larsson, Institutionen för teknikvetenskaper, Kvalitetsteknik Biträdande handledare: Sofia Scholler, Länsstyrelsen Gotland


The pictures on the front page depicts jeans on rack and jeans on shelf. Photographer: Neema Tindwa


1 CONTENTS ABSTRACT ... 2 SAMMANDRAG ... 2 INTRODUCTION ... 3 Agenda 2030 ... 4 Aim ... 5 Research questions ... 5 METHOD ... 5 RESULTS ... 5

What processes does the cultivation of cotton include? ... 5

How does the after treatments affect the textile workers health and local environment? ... 7

What possibilities as well as challenges does the recycling of denim face? ... 9







Neema Tindwa. Independent Project in Environmental Science, 15 ECTS.


The denim production has an environmental impact, in order to achieve the UN’s sustainability goal until year 2030, a lot has to change. During its early stages, denim

production is highly water intensive and large amounts of pesticides are also used. Those two combined affects the biodiversity locally as well as the health of the farmers badly. Other treatments such as sandblasting puts different chemical into the garment, due to lack of regulations and safety equipment the textile workers health is at stake. With a circular economy in mind, there are however certain options to reuse the denim products, both in the sense of recycling and re-selling in second hand. Society as a whole such as manufacturers and individuals have a responsibility to help achieve the twelfth goal and its targets goals. This could perhaps be achieved by regulations, a change in demand, increase of recycling and more information to the consumers about the production of denim and how to decrease its consequences.


Denimproduktionen har en stor miljöpåverkan, och för att uppnå FN:s globala mål för hållbar utveckling år 2030 måste en del förändras. Redan i de tidiga stadierna av denimproduktionen används enorma mängder vatten och bekämpningsmedel. Vilket i sin tur har sin negativa påverkan på den lokala biodiversiteten samt böndernas hälsa. Andra behandlingar såsom sandblästring tillför flera kemikalier till tyget, till följd av detta påverkas även textilarbetarnas hälsa. Med ett cirkulärt ekonomiskt flöde finns det flera möjligheter att återvinna och

återanvända denim. Samhället i det hela, näringslivet till enskilda individer har ett ansvar att uppnå det tolfte globala målet samt dess delmål. Detta kan möjligtvis uppnås genom riktlinjer, förändring i efterfrågan, ökad information för konsumenter om denim och dess



Denim is a cotton fabric made from coloured cotton threads, usually a shade of blue, weaved together with uncoloured, white, cotton threads. It is usually weaved in a twill, which make denim garments sturdy and suitable for all seasons, for working condition as well as for daily use. Those qualities are something that makes it a popular choice of fabric in garments (Annapoorani 2017). The Denim industry is a growing industry and has been growing since the early 1970’s. During the 1970’s the United States was the main producer of denim. However, during the last ten years the denim production has started to spread from high income countries to low income countries. This can be seen in the shift that China is now the main producer of denim with India on a second place. Asia is the main producer of denim and outside Asia the main production is done in Turkey as well as the United States (Amutha 2017). The denim industry is a profitable industry, which can be explained due to its

multifunctionality (WWF 2013). Additionally, cotton has an annual production of 25 million tonnes cotton (Esteve-Turrillas & Guardia 2016). Denim is mainly produced in fifteen different countries and annually capitalizes over several billions of American dollars. Year 2012 denim garments were sold for 51 billion American dollars. Chinas success of denim can be illustrated through the 3,5 billion meter which was produced year 2012 with a 9-billion-dollar revenue the same year (Amutha 2017).

The clothing industry in general is an industry which requires a lot of resources, resources that are usually used unsustainably. To finish a piece of garment, large quantities of water are used, and it usually requires anywhere between 7000 to around 30000 litres of water to produce a finished piece of clothing. (Naturvårdsverket 2018 b). This is something which affect all stages of the production chain, from crop growth to manufacture (Esteve-Turrillas & Guardia 2016). This is a double-edged sword considering the fact that fresh water is a limited resource, combined with the countries that cotton is cultivated requires a dry climate and usually already has a shortage of water to begin with (Esteve-Turrillas & Guardia 2016, Naturvårdsverket 2018 a). Most of the production also occurs outside of the EU, in places where there is a lack of regulation on how to handle waste water or how to handle certain chemicals. This is especially a problem in countries such as China or India where ground water is polluted combined with a lack of fresh water as well, partly due to the textile industry (Chen et al. 2012, Naturvårdsverket 2018b). From the beginning of the production chain, extensive use of water and pesticides are used in the phase of growth of cotton, with

additional water being used during the later stages of dyeing the denim garment (WWF 2013, Amutha 2017). Part of the water intensity are due to cotton which requires a lot of water. To grow one kilogram of cotton fibre around 20,000 litres are required, during the later stages whilst dyeing a pair of jeans requires approximately over 100 litres of water (Amutha 2017). Part of the problem of the consumption is the fact that the garments tore more easily due to the being produced in poor quality, which shortens the garments lifetime (Morgan & Birtwistle 2009, Naturvårdsverket 2018a). There are many factors that make the garments more usable under a long time, e.g. things like the quality of the fibres used during cultivation and how often the fibre is irrigated (McLoughlin et al 2015). Also, certain steps in the



treatments (Choudhury 2017, WWF 2013). This is due to child labour, lack of equipment and information, as well as overall unsafe working conditions (Amutha 2017).

Another point regarding the consumers and consumption of textile is the amount of clothing that are discarded in large amounts. In Sweden the average Swede consumes about 14

kilograms of textile each year, whilst 7 kilograms of these clothing’s bought are thrown away and are still usable (Naturvårdsverket 2018a). In order to achieve the twelfth sustainability goal, consumers also hold a responsibility of the care of the denim product. Things as the amount of times the denim garment is washed also has an effect on its lifetime (Choudhury 2017). The consumer also faces responsibility since consumer care require high energy impact as well as an impact on the environment (Choudhury 2017). During the life cycle of a pair of jeans around 1650 litres of water is used for washing the jeans (Amutha 2017).

Agenda 2030

In the year of 2015 UN established an agenda, with all its countries member, called Agenda 2030. Agenda 2030’s goal is to achieve three things which embodies the three important aspects of sustainable development; economic -, social - and ecological issues. To achieve sustainable development, there is a need of decrease in inequality as well, abolish extreme poverty and to solve the climatic crises, by the year of 2030. The responsibility lays on the society as whole, such as business sectors, companies, organisations and individuals. Agenda 2030 contains of 17 goals and each goal has a certain amounts of target goals. By achieving one sustainability goal makes it easier to achieve the others (Globala målen n.d.). Throughout this paper, a focus will be on the sustainable development goal 12. Sustainable development goal 12 represents “Responsible consumption and production”. This goal motivation is that environmentally beneficial production is not exclusively beneficial for the environment, but it also carries an economic and social weight. Economically it can provide an increase of

competitiveness and economic growth through an increase of employment. Socially it is beneficial for a better wellbeing and a decrease of poverty. These benefits are both included locally and also globally (Globala målen n.d. a).

The twelfth sustainability goal, which will be the only sustainability goal to be referred to in this thesis, is sustainable consumption and production. In brief this goal can be described as to support and encourage the usage of resources in an environmentally efficient way, encourage environmentally sustainable and ethical jobs, that will in turn promote a greater quality of life. The application of this goal will promote economic and social sustainability globally. Another aim is to have a sustainable supply chain during all the stages of a product, from the earliest stages of production to the latter stages of the consumer consuming the product. This

highlights the consumer as an important part of the supply chain, meaning that there is a need for the consumer to be educated and making information available for a sustainable lifestyle, such information may be presented through e.g. labels (SDG n.d.).


5 Aim

This paper will have a main focus on the ecological, social and a little bit of the economic impacts of the denim production. The aim of this study is to understand how certain stages of the denim production affects the environment. With a general overview this will be achieved through answering the research questions regarding the cultivation of cotton, aftertreatment as well as the possibilities and challenges to recycle denim. There will be delamination in the sense that this will not be a life cycle analysis, due to too many factors that has to be taken in consideration. Instead, there will be an overview of the most environmentally straining phases of the denim production. The research questions are formed with the sustainability goal 12 in mind, and the goal with the results will be discussed in the discussion part of this paper, to find possible solutions and conclusion to any possible problems. Even though other

sustainability goals; clean water and sanitation and good health and well-being can be related to this topic directly, focus will only be on sustainability goal responsible production and consumption.

Research questions

 What processes does the cultivation of cotton include?

 How does the after-treatments affect the textile workers health and local environment?  What possibilities as well as challenges does the recycling of denim face?


This is a literature study with information collected primarily from two collections from the Textile Institute Series published by Elseiver Science & Technology, and sources found through Uppsala University’s (UU) library services and Google Scholar. Additional sources were the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the non-governmental, non-profit organisations WWF and Greenpeace.


What processes does the cultivation of cotton include?

There is estimated 50 different types of wild as well as cultivated cotton species, however only four are commercially grown on a larger scale. (McLoughlin et al 2015) The two most common are Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbandense. The cotton that consist of 90% of the commercially grown is as mentioned earlier the Gossypium hirsutum, also named upland cotton which is considered to be more suitable for cotton production. (McLoughlin et al 2015) Upland cotton is more suitable due to upland cotton’s needing low maintenance yet a strong fibre (Homegrowncotton 2018). The other type of cotton that stands for 8% of the cotton production worldwide is Gossypium barbadense, this characterizes the cotton species, is a long cotton staple. (McLoughlin et al 2015) The cotton staple is the length of the cotton ball’s fibre which is harvested. Also depending on the length of the staple the cotton



in the soil in rows and are planted mechanically, machinery is also used when the cotton is already planted to remove weeds that compete with the cotton. The seed takes about two months to bloom and when it has bloom it takes an additional few days for the ball of cotton to ripen and for the cotton fibres to burst out of the cotton ball (McLoughlin et al 2015). The cotton is then usually harvested manually by hand, compared to machinery. E.g. out of 100 million bales of cotton that is annually cultivated, 70% out of these are harvested by hand compared to the rest which is plucked with machinery (McLoughlin et al 2015).

Cotton is one of the world’s most profitable crop, besides from agricultural crops, with a coverage of 2,5% of the world’s arable areal. Therefore, the methods used during the production is crucial for its impact on the environment (WWF 2013). There is not much change in the techniques of cotton production, as it was first cultivated approximately 7000 years ago which it dates back to. The change that does have occurred is technological which can change the fibres characteristics (McLoughlin 2015). Out of the 115 tonnes cotton that are produced each year about 40-45% are used for clothing. In most cases, it is not possible to track where the cotton originated or to examine its supply chain due to different fibres are usually blended with different yarn, which in turn originates from different countries. There is however a possibility to trace the supply chain, more easily if the cotton is organically

certified. (WWF 2013). The amount of water cotton usually requires for its cultivation is environmentally straining. Only to water the cotton itself in the cultivation process usually amount to a total of 20 000 litres of fresh water for one kilogram of cotton, the amount of water may vary depending on temperature and quality of flower. One kilogram of cotton is the same amount as one pair of jeans requires (Pal et al 2017).

The production of cotton also causes loss of habitation as in deforestation (Richardsson 2011). This has occurred in Central America’s mangrove forest (WWF 2013). Mangroves provides various of ecosystem services, such as flood- and erosion control, nursery for fish which provides biodiversity also recreational aspects (Brander et al 2012). This has been the case for the Tugai Forest, where over 80% of the forest has been removed in the Amudaria Basin area. The Amudaria Basin area, localized in Central America, is an area with rich biodiversity, the deforestation has been done in order to make way for cultivation of cotton (WWF 2013). The soil is usually sensitive to begin with, due to the climate cotton is grown, especially since the soil is low quality and contains little organic mass. Rainfall and wind make the soil more prone to erosion. This creates a cycle of farmers using more pesticides and chemical treatments as fertilizers (WWF 2013). Due to continuous irrigation, dams have been

constructed. In turn, river deltas have been affected in reduced flow of water as well as natural reoccurrences due to the constructions, example of a natural reoccurrence are flooding events which in turn affect those aquatic organisms negatively that are dependent on inflows of water (WWF 2013).

Another major environmentally straining process is the use of pesticides that is needed during the cultivation phase (Pal et al 2017). To put into perspective, 10% of the worldwide

pesticide-use are used during the cultivation stage of cotton (WWF 2013). Not only do the pesticides and insecticides have a health impact it also has a negative effect on the

environment. The pesticides of chemicals usage contain a large amount of chemicals that are hazardous, that both affects the cotton worker’s health as well the environment nearby (WWF 2013, Ajayi & Akinnifesi 2007). Many of the chemicals used in the pesticides are classified by WHO as highly and extremely hazardous, which are the two highest ratings on the toxic scale classifications by WHO, and they are also illegal and not recommended (WWF 2013, WHO 2010, Khan et al 2014). Other factors that can affect the growth of the cotton is



through and to rivers and lakes, making them contaminated. In the long run the toxic substances accumulate in the soil over a longer time. (WWF n.d.) Due to the spreading of pesticides there has been reporting’s of contaminated groundwaters in the affected areas close to the cotton fields, and also contaminated seabed’s (WWF 2013). The pesticides used are usually a threat to biodiversity in the nearby areas, in both short and long-terms (WWF n.d.). Aside from cotton having an environmental impact it also has a strong social impact in relation to the cotton production. Cotton production employs a lot of people in developing countries, cotton production employs 7% out of the total work force (WWF 2013). The biggest effect the cotton cultivation has socially is on the farmer’s health, which is due to the use of pesticides, which puts the workers health at risk during the cultivation stages of cotton (WWF n.d).The continuation of hazardous pesticides is often because of lack of information available among farmers on how they shall be used. Another reason for the use of these pesticides are that they are an alternative that are not as expensive as the less toxic pesticides. Many of these pesticides that are in use usually contains chemicals such as organophosphates, which has a negative effect on the nervous system. Death rates due to cotton production are estimated to be between 20,000 to 40,000 annually, and half of farmers using pesticides has reported sickness and poisoning due to its use (WWF 2013). The working hours for the farmers in the field are long with low pay. The length of the work day is also dependent on what type of farmer it is. Migrants usually have the longest working hours that can range from 11-13 hours a day. Child labour is also a normal occurrence, ages between six and fourteen, with working hours on a range between 9-10 hours daily. In India the child labour is a frequent occurrence with a majority of girls working in the fields (WWF 2013). Women are also a high representative when it comes to cotton farmers in low income countries (Memon et al 2019).

How does the after treatments affect the textile workers health and local environment?

The dye is applied to the cotton after it is made into yarn (McLoughlin 2015). Usually the dye used is synthetic indigo dye, though there is still usage of natural indigo dye. The indigo colour originates and is extracted from the plant Indigofera Tinctoria. (Chavan 2015) It usually requires many gradual dyeings to build up for the wished shade of indigo blue, and for this there are different dyeing techniques to achieve the classic blue jean look (Chakraborty 2014). Direct denims are a type of way to apply the dye to the garment, which is not an indigo dye, and is not dyed gradually. Those dyes are usually directly applied to the garment, hence the name (Chavan 2015). Although indigo is the most used dye, it is not used exclusively and is often mixed with different types of dyes such as different sulphurs (Sanchez 2015). To dye a pair of jeans usually requires around 150 litres of water (Amutha 2017).

One of the most crucial parts when finishing the denim garment is the washing process (Choudhury 2017). After the indigo is applied to the garment it has to oxidize, in other words be in contact with air, directly after the dye is applied. Depending on what type of look the finished piece denim garment is going for, different processes are needed. These different “looks” can be categorized in a flat-look, tinted, washed out, grainy and soft feel (Choudhury 2017). The names of the looks describe the finished product e.g. the flat look means that the garment looks flat after it has been washed, therefore there is no need for ironing. The most environmental straining part out of these is the washed-out denim look, since this process requires a lot of water but also a lot of chemicals (Choudhury 2017).



sandblasting but also sometimes combined or used exclusively with the use of chemicals such silica or polypropylene (Choudhury 2017). These after-treatments also reduce the strength and quality to 50% or less (Choudhury 2017). Sandblasting is a method used to remove darker pigments on denim garments, through air pressure and sand, this is to achieve a worn-out look. Sandblasting can be executed in two ways either manually or non-manually. If the process is done non-manually, it is executed in cabinets mechanically. This method is claimed to be more “controlled”, but studies have shown workers still are exposed to hazardous silica dust, silica dust is released from the sand. However, this may be since usually if it is done non-manually the workers also have a lack of protection like ventilation. When it is done manually, a machine-type of gun is used with the pressure of air to the garment, with the pressure the sand hits the surface and removes parts of the dye (Choudhury 2017). The sand usually contains silica which makes the process more hazardous and causes a threat for the worker’s health. The use of silica is banned in the United Kingdom and is prohibited and several other countries, its use is also however restricted in the EU as well as the US. The types of restrictions that are implemented usually regard the type of sands that shall be used during sandblasting and usually include a major decrease of the use of silica sand (Choudhury 2017). The dust that comes from silica is stated as hazardous and may cause e.g. respiratory problems. Depending on if the worker has been affected to the dust long- or short term may also cause different types of problems, long-term exposure may cause silicosis or lung cancer (Choudhury 2017).

One of the biggest carbon dioxide emissions, from the production of denim garments,



Figure 1: This figure is satellite view from Google maps. The figure shows the waste water dumped in local

rivers in China, specifically a river in Xintang province. The figure’s dark blue river meets a bigger river called the East River (Greenpeace 2010).

Waters that has been tested in Xintang China, has been found to contain different types of chemicals (Nimkar 2016). Xintang has since the 1980’s been one of the main provinces of the denim productions of China, the province stands for 60% of the jeans production in the country. Workers are usually exposed to risk due to the lack of safety equipment. The chemicals exposed to the workers are hazardous, reporting’s have been made of women having fertility issues due to the dyes and treatments used. Child labour is also occurring in the dyeing plants. The heavy metals that has been detected from testing both waters and sediment are cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead and copper (Greenpeace 2010). Xintang are not alone in the matters of lack of regulations and use of heavy metals, in the year of 2010 over 130 textile manufactures similar to the one in Xintang exists (Greenpeace 2010, Chen et al 2012).

What possibilities as well as challenges does the recycling of denim face?

One of the biggest problems the denim production faces is that it is produced in large amounts, which also results in that they are disposed in huge quantities. The denim that is disposed is usually incinerated or ends up dumped in landfills (Luiken & Bouwhius 2015). The clothing industry needs to become circular in order to be more environmentally friendly, something which can be achieved from recycling (Naturvårdsverket 2018a). Currently



Figure 2: drawn by the author. After a product is manufactured and is consumed, rather than being discarded as

in linear economy a product has a stage of recycle. This figure is based on an Ellen MacArthur video about circular economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2011).

Recycling is usually done through shredding, this is more economically as well as ecological beneficial. This is achieved by transforming the garment to shreds for later. If it is a high-end recycling the shreds are reused as fibre, these fibres can be made to produce products that are used for lower quality products combined with new fibre. The lower quality is due to the wear and tear of the recycled garment. During the recycling process not, all parts are used from the garment, there is rather few parts used. There are certain parts of the garment, such as zippers and buttons made from metal that cannot be recycled. Labels made from leather or faux leather on e.g. a pair of jeans as well as sewn in labels, are difficult to recycle. Only the parts of merely fabric are recycled. High-end recycling is not common, it is more common for the denim products to be recycled to insulation in housing. As mentioned above, one of the main challenges with recycling clothes are the fact that they are usually blended with different types of materials. (Luiken & Bouwhius 2015)



Figure 3: figure created by author based on KEMI 2014. From the 20% collected; 40% of those are reused in

mainly in low income countries as well as reused in the EU. 10% out of the reused and recycled clothing ends up to waste. The clothing that is disposed is ends up in landfills or are incinerated (KEMI 2014).

There are however some changes in bigger clothing chains that draws attention to the need of a circular consumption cycle. (I:CO n.d.) H&M for an example has started with an initiative, which makes it possible for their consumers to leave garments that H&M collects. This rewards the consumer through a gift card, which can only be used in their store for a purchase over at least 300 Swedish crowns, SEK (H&M n.d.). The clothing and textiles collected are then handled in three different ways depending on its state. Usually the textiles are not used to make new clothing, instead the textiles and garments can either be recreated for cleaning rags or used as fibres in insulation, as mentioned above. The third option is for the clothing to be sold in second hand stores. This initiative by H&M is worldwide and it is in partnership with a company called I:Collect hereafter called I:CO, which is the company that collects and recycles the material (H&M n.d., I:CO n.d. a). They have collected up to 90 000 tonnes of textiles and shoes since 2009, with partnerships with stores worldwide (I:CO n.d.).

KappAhl is another clothing store and company from Sweden that also collects textiles like H&M, with a partnership with I:CO. The incitement is the same as H&M regarding the 300 SEK. The clothing that are collected to KappAhl reports that half of the clothing that are collected are still usable and therefore re-sold again in second hand stores, which they also claim to be the best option environmentally (KappAhl n.d.). Another brand that sells a lot of denim is American Eagle, they use a similar, yet temporary, initiative with an incitement regarding denim (American Eagle 2019). American Eagle uses a different partnership with a company called Blue Jeans Go Green. This company resides in the United States and the recycled denim and denim waste is made into insulation used in e.g. buildings between walls. The insultation are created solely from the denim and are described and branded as

environmentally friendly, free from chemical irritants, itch-free and also more absorbent of sound than conventional insulation (BJGG n.d., BJGG n.d. a). The organization Blue Jeans Go Green has partnerships with schools and companies, but also accepts individual hand ins for an example by post or by parcel. (BJGG n.d. a).



My result suggests that there is still a lot of work to do in order to achieve a more sustainable cotton cultivation and denim production. The cotton cultivation might need to seek into the technological possibilities to be more sustainable, as target goal 12.2 states “by 2030

sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources” (UN n.d.). I did come across some researchers that suggested genetically modified cotton as an option for the future for a more sustainable management on cultivation of cotton (Mc Loughlin et al 2015). Perhaps the genetically modified cotton will reduce pesticide use and possibly reduce the use of water. I believe if the right technology is available, the genetically modified cotton may be less sensitive for low organic material in the soil and prevent erosion. There are however a couple of possible downsides of using genetically modified crops, one of the risks for genetically modified cotton is that it may turn into an invasive species, and it may develop a new kind of super weed. Super weed means that a weed adapts to the new kind of, in this case; cotton plant, making them more resistant to pesticides. This in turn means larger amounts are needed. Lastly, genetically modified organisms are also a rather new discovery and many of the risks may not be discovered or considered yet (Bawa & Anilkumar, 2012,

Vetenskapslandet n.d.).

Another thing I would like to suggest is to minimise the use of pesticides and insecticides by proper training for the workers, since a lot of the excessive pesticide use are caused by farmers that lack information on the usage of pesticide and lack of information about its possible dangers. I believe it may be necessary to minimise the effect of the heavy pesticide use or phase out the most hazardous pesticides. This requires not only responsibility of the farmers but mainly responsibility of the companies that employ the farmers. I therefore believe this is first and foremost a top down change. If that is done target goal 12.8, that is described as the importance of information that promotes sustainable lifestyle with nature, can be reached (UN n.d.).

In order to reach the essence of the sustainability goals, there must also be a change regarding child labour, long working hours and underpayment. This also puts a perspective since it is a lot of migrants as well as women and girls that are the works on the cotton fields. These two types of groups, girls or women and migrants, I consider to be vulnerable. Especially the case of children of girls in India, which I would state makes them twice as vulnerable to

mistreatment. The change is important, especially since the UN’s sustainability goals core focuses and aims are to reduce inequalities and extreme poverty. Worth noting is the fact that this may cause a wicked problem. A wicked problem can be described as a social problem that involves more than one stakeholder. This might mean there is no “right solution” and if a solution is reached, it may also mean a follow of multiple consequences (Incropera 2015). This can be interpreted as if pay will be increased manufacturers may have to fire some farmers, meaning they will not have an income. Also, as the case of India, if the children becomes unemployed this might mean they will have to turn to something else illegal to earn a living, which may be more dangerous for their wellbeing. A harsh example might be that these girls may have to turn to prostitution, a common problem in India (Willis & Levy 2002). Despite that, if the sustainability goals are met this may not be the case and hopefully the girls are given a fair and humane start at life. That type of wicked problem is not something I think is exclusive to the child labourers, but it may be the case for the underpaid workers and the migrants as well, although with a different outcome.



there are some quite easy steps to take for some of these procedures to be more sustainable, both for the environment and for the textile workers. Sandblasting in cabinets is supposed to be safer but if it is not used properly such results cannot be achieved. This is something I do not believe that textile workers themselves are solely responsible for, rather the manufacturer to provide safety equipment’s. However, this target goal is something that differs depending what country is in question. The EU has stronger regulation of use of silica as mentioned, but I believe such regulation would be preferable to be implemented all across the globe. Such aftertreatment also increases up to 50% tear due to these procedures. By that, I believe it is important for the consumer to be informed what types of procedures may affect the quality of the denim garment. This might be something different retailers may not want to share or even announce since the quality decreases. Without such information to the consumers, behaviour change towards a sustainable lifestyle will probably not be as easy, as target goal 12.8 states the importance for the public to be promoted sustainable lifestyles (Globala målen n.d. a). One solution regarding the misuse of practices of sandblasting and stone washing could be to use less dye (Choudhury 2017).

By having an increase of information on how to adapt a more sustainable lifestyle, consumers can reduce their impact on their environment by properly treat the denim products used (Globala målen n.d. a). This may be of importance since there is a lack of knowledge regarding where clothing ends up (Birtwistle & Moore 2007). Increased information can be achieved by washing the clothing less, by using a pair of jeans ten times before washing it lengthens its life-cycle and also reduces the use of water. By all the carbon dioxide emission produced from a pair of jeans the care of the consumer stands for 37%. There are however differences when it comes to the care of denim products and it varies between regionally (Choudhury 2017). There are several different strategies to promote behavioural change regarding pro-environmental change. One of those strategies is provision of information. Provision of information may not be enough to completely change the general people’s

behaviour (Steg et al 2012). But it can be achieved by tailored and prompted information, e.g. signs in clothing stores with information of the garment. The information can be tailored as well, depending on age or gender. It could say how to care for the jeans in order to be able to use it for a longer time span. Regardless, I can assume that with other external factors as provision of information may encourage and make behavioural change, therefor it can be effective. Provision of information is not a guarantee for behaviour change, but it will most likely increase the consumer’s awareness. However, it is proven to be more efficient when the information is tailored to the target audience (Steg et al 2012).

Target goal 12.5 “… substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse” is partly adapted, but it has to be adapted in a bigger scale, especially in mind that people consume about 14 kilograms of clothing annually (UN n.d.). Despite that, the EU’s directive is a step in the right direction to reduce waste. Another wicked problem that arises regarding the recycling aspect, is that many of the clothes that are donated or rejected from higher income countries ends up in thrift shops in lower income country (Guardian 2015, Morgan & Birtwistle 2009). This may in turn ruin local businesses, as well as make it difficult for them to survive and revive. This since the clothing ending up in low-income countries outside the EU are sold for a cheaper price than the local textiles and clothing. (The Guardian 2015). Which in a sense distances from the purpose of the

sustainability goal that it needs sustainable development whilst promoting economic growth (UN n.d. a). Local textile industries may have the possibility to boost the local economy and grant people a better living in the affected areas. I believe low-income countries has to become more independent and that is perhaps the only way to abolish poverty. Worth



are dependent on these cheap clothes (The Guardian 2015). To abolish extreme poverty as well as promote economic growth are one of the core goals of the sustainability goal 12, therefore recycling in excessive amount may be counter-productive. Studies has also shown that reusing rather than recycling may be more environmentally beneficial (Sandin & Peters 2018).

Lastly, I believe more research is needed in order to be able to achieve sustainability goal 12, research regarding technology use, such as GMO and also less harmful pesticides and after-treatments. Social research is equally important in my opinion, as in how to improve the working conditions for the farmers and textile workers. Another important factor is to research possible wicked problems and how to prevent them. The possibility to reduce

consumption may be achieved by a higher price tag. A price tag that includes the use and cost of the natural resources in the finished denim products and other textiles, something which is not the case today (Larsson et al 2012). However, it can be challenging to value a natural resource therefore I think the most effective solution would be to consume less as well for manufactures to take responsibility for a sustainable development.


I want to dedicate a special thanks for my two supervisors Magnus Larsson and Sofia Scholler for their time and being there throughout this work, providing me with insight and advice. Another thank I would like to dedicate is to the course co-ordinator Karin Bengtsson for input and being available if any questions was needed.


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Denimproduktion och hållbar utveckling

Denim är ett tyg som består av två olikfärgade bomullstrådar, de ena av dessa trådar är vanligtvis blåa och de andra trådarna är vanligen ofärgade och vita. Trådarna är vävda tillsammans i en kypertbindning vilket skapar ett slittåligt bomullstyg. Denimindustrin är en industri som har växt sedan det tidiga 1970-talet, under den tiden var USA den främsta producenten av denim något som har förändrats på de senaste tio åren. Under dessa tio år har produktionen av denim spridit sig från höginkomstländer till låginkomstländer. Kina är ledande producent av denim och den främsta denimproduktionen sker inom Asien. Denims popularitet är något som kan kopplas till dess multifunktionalitet. Av alla 25 miljoner ton bomull som odlas står denimproduktion för 10% av det, och årligen industrin omsätter mångmiljardbelopp. Däremot är klädindustrin generellt resurskrävande, att producera ett färdigt plagg kräver allt från 7000 till 30 000 liter vatten. Den största delen klädproduktionen sker också i Asien, där klädindustrin förorenat grundvatten, något som är problematiskt då det råder brist på färskvatten i dessa länder. Konsumtion och konsumenter har också en

energikrävande påverkan på miljön. Låg kvalité på kläder och efterbehandlingar som stentvätt tär på plaggen och gör de mer benägna för slit. Något som i sin tur kan leda till

överkonsumtion. Denimproduktionen orsakar dessutom flera olika hälsoproblem i dess olika skeden för textilarbetarna, exempelvis användning av bekämpningsmedel eller särskilda efterbehandlingar. År 2015 skapade FN tillsammans med dess medlemsländer agenda 2030 som har som mål att uppnå hållbar utveckling genom att ha fokus på ekonomiska,

miljömässiga och sociala frågor. Agenda 2030 består av 17 globala mål med flera olika delmål, som ska uppnås innan år 2030. Detta examensarbete har fokus på mål 12; hållbar konsumtion och produktion. Motiveringen för detta mål är att hållbar produktion är inte endast fördelaktigt för miljön utan också ekonomiskt och socialt.

Syftet med detta arbete är att utreda denimproduktionens påverkan miljömässigt, socialt och delvis ekonomiskt. En generell översikt skall göras över de mest miljöbelastande faserna av denimproduktionen. Frågeställningarna är utformade med globala målet 12 i åtanke, något som ska diskuteras senare i resultatet.


Vilka processer innefattar odlingen av bomull?

Hur påverkar efterbehandlingarna textilarbetarnas hälsa och den lokala miljön? Vad finns det för möjligheter samt utmaningar att återvinna denim?

Detta är en litteraturstudie, där informationen i första hand är samlad från Uppsala Universitets bibliotekstjänster.

Vilka processer innefattar odlingen av bomull?



används 15% av all världens bekämpningsmedel. Gifterna från bekämpningsmedlen sprider sig genom sjöar och floder, vilket gör att mängder av gift ackumuleras i marken under en längre tid och leder till grundvatten blir förgiftade. Det påverkar även biodiversitet i

närstående områden både på lång- och kort sikt. Produktionen av bomull leder även till habitat förlust och avskogning på grund av ökade bomullsodlingar, i och med detta förloras olika biom och ekosystemtjänster. Bomullsodlingar har också en påverkan på det sociala planet, bland annat har det en påverkan på bomullsfältens arbetare, främst på grund av de toxiska ämnena från bekämpningsmedlen men också på grund av bristande kunskap hur vissa

bekämpningsmedel bör användas. Även om vissa bekämpningsmedel är förbjudna används de fortfarande eftersom det är billigare än nya mindre toxiska medel. Dödsiffror för

bomullsarbetare räknas ligga mellan 20 000 och 40 000 årligen. Arbetet på fältet är även lågbetalt. Barnarbete är även vanligt förekommande på fälten, speciellt i Indien, med arbetstider mellan 9–10 timmar dagligen. Migranter arbetar även också på fält och där är arbetstiden längre, mellan 11–13 timmar totalt.

Vilka typer av efterbehandlingar är de mest vanliga, orsakar dessa någon eventuell skada för textilarbetarna?

Indigofärg används på garnet, indigofärgen är oftast syntetiskt däremot används fortfarande naturlig indigofärg. Oftast blir garnet färgat stegvis innan det blir den önskade blåfärgen. Det finns även andra färgtekniker som gör det möjligt att färga tyget direkt. Det finns lite olika färgtekniker beroende på vilken slutprodukt man vill få av sitt denimplagg. En hög efterfrågan är det om denimplagg som ser ut att vara utnött och använda. Det vanligaste sättet att uppnå det är genom stentvätt eller sandblästring. Dessa behandlingar kan minska plaggets kvalité upp till 50%. Sandblästring går ut på att ta bort de mörka pigmenten från denimplagget och det kan utföras på två olika sätt, antingen manuellt eller genom att använda maskin. Om det sker maskinellt sker det inom en kabin, som ska fungera som en mer kontrollerad och säker miljö. Däremot utsätts textilarbetarna för dammet som är giftig från sandblästringen. Detta kan bero på bristande skydd för textilarbetarna. Då sandblästring görs manuellt utförs med hjälp av en liten pistolmaskin, som trycker luft mot tyget. Kiseldioxid används ofta i

kombination med sanden något som gör det riskfullt för textilarbetarnas hälsa. Användningen av kiseldioxid är begränsad inom EU och USA, det finns även förbud mot det i

Storbritannien. Då sanden andas in under en längre period kan det orsaka olika hälsoproblem som silikos eller lungcancer. Stentvätt är den andra metoden som görs för att ta bort pigment från denimplagg, detta är något som orsakar mest koldioxidutsläpp under produktionen av denim. Att koldioxidutsläppen är höga beror på att pimpsten, en vulkanisk bergart, används under tvättningen och att få tag på det kräver gruvbrytning. Stenarna stoppas i maskinerna som tvättar denimplaggen, samtidigt som plagget blir nött. Pimpsten innehåller kiseldioxid som blir till pulver och sprids även här i luften. Vattnet återanvänds tills det inte längre går och sedan släpps det ut direkt till lokala vattendrag som floder. De vatten som använts för stentvätt innehåller flera ämnen kemikalier. I regionen Xintang som ligger i Kina finns en av världens främsta regioner av jeansproduktion där efterbehandlingar som stentvätt tillämpas. Tester som genomförts inom regionens vattendrag har påvisats innehålla flera olika

tungmetaller som är skadliga för hälsa och miljön.

Vad finns det för möjligheter samt utmaningar att återvinna denim?

Ett av de största problemen med denimproduktionen är att det produceras i stora mängder, vilket också innebär att det slängs i stora mängder. De denimplagg som slängs bränns oftast upp eller blir dumpade i deponier. Klädindustrin måste bli mer cirkulär för att bli mer

miljövänlig, något som kan uppnås med återvinning. För tillfället är klädindustrin till stor del linjär, vilket innebär då ett plagg är tillverkat och det använts slängs det. Då denimplagg återvinns rivs plagget för att få tillgång till fiber. Endast vissa delar går att återvinna,



produkt av lägre kvalité. I Sverige konsumeras 14 kilogram kläder per person och år och utav dessa kläder slängs hälften. Även dessa hamnar majoriteten direkt till deponier. När dessa kläder bränns finns det en risk att gaser sprids i luften och påverkar närliggande ekosystem. Av alla kläder som slängs samlas ungefär 20% medan 80% slängs. Av de samlade kläderna återanvänds 40% i ”utvecklingsländer” medan 25% slutar upp i EU. Resten blir återvunna, antingen som trasor eller isolering. Både butikskedjorna KappAhl och H&M har börjat med initiativ som erbjuder kunder att lämna in kläder i gentemot en rabattkupong som endast kan användas i deras butiker. Båda dessa företag samarbetar med I:Collect, som återvinner det inlämnade materialet från kunderna. I Nederländerna och Tyskland finns det ett koncept som erbjuder jeans som kan hyras. Denna hyrestid kan vara under ett år, efter den tiden får kunden välja om de ska lämnas tillbaka, beroende på skick kan de lånas ut igen eller återvinns

jeansen. En av de största utmaningarna med att återvinna kläder är att de är blandade med flera olika material, dessutom försämras kvalitén när material återanvänds.



Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet

Uppsala Universitet, Campus Gotland


Kandidatuppsatser i miljövetenskap vid Uppsala Universitet, Campus Gotland.

1. John, Julia. 2018. Hållbara offentliga uterum: En studie om multifunktionsmoduler för Helsingborg drivna av Öresundskraft. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU och Catharina Wingren, Öresundskraft.

2. Nilsson, Hanna. 2018. Ekosystemtjänster i svenska kommuner: Implementering av begreppet i dagligt arbete och beslutsfattande. (15 hp). Handledare: Malgorzata Blicharska, UU.

3. Andersson, Robin. 2018. Mat för idag och imorgon: Utmaningar och möjligheter för hållbara livsmedelssystem. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU.

4. Granback, Jesper. 2018. Återförvildning (rewilding) som naturvårdsmetod i Europa. (15 hp). Handledare: Bertil Widbom, UU.

5. Klostermann, Emelie. 2018. Dumpning och återvinningscentralers tillgänglighet: En undersökning om samband mellan dumpningar av skräp och återvinningscentralers tillgänglighet i svenska kommuner. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU och Stefan Hållberg, Britta Lönn, stiftelsen Håll Sverige Rent.

6. Simonsson, Jennifer. 2018. Möjligheter och hinder för produktion av blandskog i södra Sverige. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU.

7. Björkenstig, Caroline. 2019. Analysresultat från enskilda brunnar på Gotland: Tillgängliggörande och användningsområden. (15 hp). Handledare: Roger Herbert, UU och Frida Eklund, Länsstyrelsen Gotland.

8. Lundgren, Elida. 2019. Evaluating camera monitoring of breeding seabirds. (15 hp). Handledare: Anders Nissling, UU och Jonas Hentati-Sundberg, SLU.

9. Plötz, Pauline. 2019. The role of biogas in the energy transition on Gotland. (15 hp). Handledare: Gunilla Rosenqvist, UU.

10. Louise Bergqvist. 2019. Ridsportens miljö- och klimatpåverkan: Miljöarbete bland Sveriges ridklubbar. (15 hp), Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU.

11. Sunniva Maria Robbestad. 2019. Potentialen för vågkraft i svenska och norska havsvatten. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU.

12. Sundlin, Emelie. 2019. Luftmiljövård i Sverige: En fallstudie från Västmanland. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU och Robert Axelsson, Länsstyrelsen i Västmanlands län.

13. Dvizac, Nino. 2019. Turismens utsläpp på Gotland. (15 hp). Handledare: Ulrika Persson-Fischier, UU.

14. Vainio, Viveka. 2019. Gröna tak: Funktioner ur hållbarhetsperspektiv och universitetsstudenters inställning. (15 hp) Handledare: Erik Jönsson, UU.

15. Fast, Adam. 2019. Climate change, an additional factor for considering the threat level of the snow leopard, Panthera

uncia. (15 hp). Handledare: Shannon Bower, UU.

16. Olausson, Henrik. 2019. Almens populationsstatus i bestånd på Gotland. (15 hp). Handledare: Karin Bengtsson, UU och Inga-Lena Östbrant, Länsstyrelsen Gotland.

17. Snöbohm, Johanna. 2019. Geografisk kartering av rörligt friluftsliv: Möjligheter att bidra till en vägledning. (15 hp). Handledare: Malgorzata Blicharska, UU.



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