Is Your Clothing Toxic? It Could Be, But Don't Go Trading Your Wardrobe In For Dresses Made Of Banana Leaves Just Yet
Recently, I came across an interesting and ongoing series of reports and stories about the presence of toxins and toxic chemicals in clothing. Of course, there are plenty of up and coming (and sometimes hard-to-find) eco-friendly fashion brands, but what about the big global brands? Well, environmental group Greenpeace is continuing its Detox Fashion campaign, publishing reports and updates about the toxic chemicals in clothing and which brands are working to remove them. I totally, totally get that this notion invites a huge question that evokes an immediate emotional response: Are your clothes toxic? They might be, but don't panic. It's not a simple situation.
There's no need to run out and replace your entire wardrobe with burlap dresses. These toxin levels are super small, but their very presence is still something that Greenpeace is working to eradicate for a larger good. After all, any chemical residue can build up over time and present a threat to the environment and the precious water supply. So, it's nowhere near an epidemic that should induce crazy fear, but it is something to keep in mind.
Many major clothing companies are already working to remove toxins from the textile supply chain and from products, thanks to the efforts and pressure of Greenpeace.
Here's the full story: Since 2011, Greenpeace has launched multiple investigations regarding hazardous chemicals from textile manufacturing facilities in China, Mexico, and Indonesia which supply major brands. The group tested garments and found the presence of these potentially harmful substances in the fabric.
Again, I know, that sounds like a huge reason to freak the hell out, but don't. As stated, the levels are non-appreciable in everyday life. They do not pose a direct health risk to those who wear the clothing items. You won't put on a shirt, inhale, and find yourself with a collapsed lung the next day.
However, that doesn't mean everything is safe and sound. There is the future generation to think about. The problem, according to the reports, is that the chemicals, which can be released into the environment during the production process, can eventually have effects on general health and on other organisms when interacting with the environment or the water supply.
The conventional wisdom is that it's probably best to not use chemicals with hazardous effects and those should be replaced with safer alternatives, which takes time, money, and a reliance on science.
The good news is that several brands are participating in the Greenpeace Detox campaign, "detoxing" their garments and working to remove the chemicals from the supply chain and products by 2020. Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, Zara, and Victoria's Secret are among the brands working with the initiative. Chances are you have one or two (or 57) items from these brands in your closet. Greenpeace continues to work to get other brands to follow suit.
If this is an issue that you'd like to further familiarize yourself with or that concerns you, I suggest supporting Greenpeace's efforts and making careful, conscientious purchases by at least bookmarking their information pages so that you can make more informed decisions. It takes some education and some time to learn and understand, but in the end, it could and should be worth it.
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