Green trends in clothing and textiles – Toxic clothes: Part 2

Part 2 : Toxic clothes

In September 2012, I was on a holiday to Bangkok, Thailand. It was fun time with my family lazing around and our holiday was filled with shopping and experiencing Thai culture and good food. In one of my shopping expedition in MBK shopping center, I came across a stall selling ‘unbleached and undyed cotton’. I really got curious and wanted to know what it is all about. Their unbleached and undyed clothing range looked very trendy.  The company that was selling Green cotton was ‘Green cotton Thailand co ltd’. You can visit their website www.greencotton.co.th

About unbleached and undyed cotton:

Unbleached-undyed cotton is processed without bleaching with chlorine and dyes. Bleaching process with chlorine create highly toxic substance called “Dioxins”. Dioxins are the most toxic manufactured chemical ever tested on laboratory animals. Daily doses 1000 times below the lethal doses, the part per trillion ranges, cause profound delayed effects in mammals such as cancer, damage to the immune system and reproductive failure. Dioxins cannot be easily destroyed by simple separation, and proper destruction of dioxins is extremely expensive. They cannot be broken down once absorbed by soil or animal tissues. The use of unbleached cotton prevents production and emission of toxic dioxins.

Dyes can be of two types – synthetic and natural. Synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum products, specifically coal tar. Natural dyes are extracted from plant and animal sources. The entire dyeing process makes use of metal- based chemicals. By skipping the dyeing stage entirely, thousands of gallons of water and many kilowatt hours of electricity are conserved.

(The above information is partially extracted from the Seventh Generation Fact sheet, 1991)

Fancy a wrinkle free shirt?

Don’t we all love to procrastinate ironing our shirts and trousers?. An easy way out is to buy wrinkle-free shirts and polyester-cotton blend fabrics that need less ironing. But how many of us know that to make a wrinkle-free shirt, a resin made of toxic substance is used. Formaldehyde resin is used as a finish to keep fabrics wrinkle-free. 100% cotton textiles that are labeled “easy – care” or “no-iron” is also treated with this finish.

When formaldehyde is used to treat the textiles, it emits formaldehyde gas continuously. While washing permanent pressed clothes reduces the amount of gas that is emitted, the fabric does continue to give off vapors indefinitely. Insomnia, tiredness, headaches, respiratory illness and many other ill effects can be caused by formaldehyde gas.

When we buy unbleached-undyed-non -formaldehyde treated fabrics, it will not only protect the environment by reducing the pollutants in both water and air but us- the buyers and ultimately the workers involved in manufacturing the fabrics.

Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) and Phthales found in Big Brands Children Clothing:

Greenpeace’s latest report reveals that the clothes you or your kids are wearing may contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) – chemicals that are effectively banned in clothing manufacturing in Europe – which can break down in water to form nonylphenol (NP), a toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting substance. 52 out of 78 garments from 14 global clothing, brands tested positive for NPEs. (Source: http://www.safbaby.com/from-toxic-toys-to-toxic-clothes-phthales-and-nonylphenol-ethoxylates-found-in-kids-clothing)

Organic Cotton

Image courtesy : Greenpeace

Phthalates was found in printed T-shirts for kids from Gap and other brands.

Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/detoxthreads/

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Please also read other Greenpeace source/Links relating to Toxic clothes:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Toxics-reports/Big-Fashion-Stitch-Up/

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/the-toxic-tale-behind-your-clothing/blog/43044/

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/water/detox/

Like most of you think, it is not practical to buy only organic and green clothing and change our entire wardrobe. But it is good to be aware of the processes and chemicals that goes into manufacturing textiles. By becoming a conscious buyer, we make better choices.

Bye for now. With love from PetalDew Nature’s nurture.

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