Are You Clothes Conscious?


“There is no darkness but ignorance”- William Shakespeare


Are you clothes conscious?

Are you mindful about health effects of apparel you buy?

Have you ever thought that the garment you are buying will touch your skin and what would your skin absorb from it?  

We feel bad when we eat lots of sugar or processed food because that is not going to leave a good effect on our health. We try to “neutralize” that by walking, exercising or drinking a smoothie etc. We being aware of  numerous ways, try to apply those ways to “nullify” the effect of the wrong we have done to our diet, and it helps.  

Thinking about our clothes in the same way would be a step forward towards a healthy lifestyle.

The problem here is, most of the people don’t know how to think healthy when they buy clothes. There is a little awareness on this subject and no easily available books and of course we don’t talk much about it.  That is one of the reason I chose to write this blog.

Everyone likes trees.  We go to parks and walk in the woods to inhale fresh air and let some oxygen in for our lungs. Then we go a step further and keep plants indoors for a good quality of air. Imagine for a minute, doing all that and then walking into your closet full of clothes and breathing toxic fumes released by chemicals on our clothes. It is happening in millions of closets right now. I have seen it, felt it and experienced in my closet too.

Why is that? Because the clothes we bought are loaded with chemicals and we are inhaling harmful toxins in our own closet. Deal with those toxic clothes for few minutes in your closet and I bet the sensitive nose people will walk out sneezing and feeling uncomfortable. That’s the first sign of your body telling you something is not right around here.

This happens because we never think of chemicals while buying clothes and clothing industry does not declare the names of chemicals used on the labels, as food labels does. We buy those clothes out of ignorance. We buy them to look good.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Toxins in our closets? So what are those toxins in our closets?

They are the synthetic clothes loaded with dyes and chemicals. Not only synthetic, many clothes made of natural fiber come loaded with lot of chemicals too. Read my articles on this blog to know about those toxic chemicals and why industry uses it and how can we save our skin from them.

Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN in their book “Killer Clothes” state, “Synthetic-fiber clothing is worn with an illusion of safety but hides invisible chemical and other dangers that clothing manufacturers and much of the world’s health-care industry ignores, or attempts to rationalize away” They further state that when toxins enter the body through the mouth and end up in the intestines, they are channeled by the blood in to liver, where detoxification naturally occurs. When toxins are absorbed through the skin, however, they bypass the liver.  

Greenpeace’s Toxic thread campaign state’s that a total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012 in 29 countries and regions worldwide from authorized retailers. The chemicals found included high levels of toxic phthalatesin four of the garments, and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes in two garments. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) were found in 89 garments (just under two thirds of those tested). In addition, the presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested. As inherently hazardous substances, any use of NPEs, phthalates, or azo dyes that can release cancer-causing amines, is unacceptable.

The dispersal of hazardous chemicals from our clothes into water systems – when they are manufactured and after they are sold – can only be addressed by the rapid and transparent elimination of their use at source. Following Greenpeace’s Detox campaign in 2011, a number of sportswear and fashion brands took up the Greenpeace Detox challenge109 and made individual commitments to zero discharge of hazardous substances by 1 January 2020.

The reality is, there are no “environmentally acceptable” or “safe” levels of use and discharge for inherently hazardous substances, and the sooner companies eliminate all uses, the better the environmental and health outcomes can be.

Now as a “no or little knowledge” consumer in this trade, below questions can pop up in our mind:

  • How do I know while buying a piece of a garment that it has harmful chemicals or not?
  • Does reading the label would tell?

Answer to above questions is:

  • We can know when buying a cloth that it may or may not have harmful chemicals. 
  • Answer to second question is yes and no. We can but not to the full extent.

The way food industry is regulated in United States, clothing industry is not. Food items need to declare its 100% content, so we know the ingredients. But clothing industry is regulated to just declare the composition of fiber. If we don’t have knowledge  or experience in textile and clothing industry, its nearly impossible to find out what kind of chemicals clothes carry.

Don’t worry. There are still ways to know. Read my articles to know how to read a label.

Remember, industry cares about profits and we have to be smart enough to save ourselves from the chemicals they want us to wear.

We go an extra mile to take care of our health by eating right. And when we eat that piece of awesome looking cake with icing, at least we know what we are eating. The ingredients are printed on the label.

Same should be with clothing. I don’t say stop buying all synthetic clothes right now. But my point is, consumer should be aware of the contents when they buy any garment. They should know (chemical contents) this might not be the right choice for them as far as health of their clothes is concerned and it can leave adverse effect on their health. Since the labels do not say that, we have to learn on our own to save our skin.

Eat right and wear healthy.

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