Organic Cotton: Future of Clothing

 


“I want to get the message out to as many people as possible…I want to sell as much organic cotton as possible because this helps the farmers. If they can sell organic cotton rather than conventional, it improves their lives immeasurably as they don’t have to spend all their money on chemical pesticides and fertilizers and can finally afford to feed, clothe, house their families, educate their children and afford healthcare, which is not the case if they farm conventionally.” British designer-activist Katharine Hamnett


Organic Cotton: Future of Clothing- Knitting and Weaving its Way Into Our Closets

There is no doubt that cotton clothing feels best on our skin. It’s soft, safe, breathes on our skin and lets our skin breathe. But industrialization has done a huge harm to farming community, earth and environment by adding toxic pesticides to cotton crops. “Nature’s Miracle”- naturally grown cotton, is contaminated.

Until the 1920’s, all agriculture was generally organic. Farmers used natural means to feed the soil and to control pests. It was not until the Second World War that farming methods changed dramatically. It was when research on chemicals designed as nerve gas showed they were also capable of killing insects.

Consumers beware; pick your cotton carefully. Grown with pesticides, colored with synthetic dyes and chemicals, topped with toxic finishes and lack of transparency on labels has made cotton clothing not so natural any more.

While still cotton might be a better choice as compared to synthetic wear, it’s high time now to educate ourselves on not only what we eat but on what we wear too. It’s time to “Care What You Wear”.

We know very well how industry has contaminated our food. There is high awareness and rise in demand for organic food. You can find organic food in Wal-Mart and Aldi’s now. Organic Cotton clothing is next.

Industrial cotton takes a heavy toll on the environment:

  • Cotton is responsible for 25% of global insecticide use yet accounts for 3% of the world’s crops.
  • The average conventional cotton t-shirt uses almost half a pound of toxic chemicals in its production.
  • It takes 500 gallons of water to produce just one t-shirt made of conventional cotton. In some areas, conventional cotton is contributing heavily to water scarcity.

This is significant because cotton makes up 50 percent of the world’s fiber needs. With 29 million tons produced annually around the world, cotton is among the most powerful cash crops in the world. A widespread shift from traditional to organic cotton would have major impacts due to the sheer size of the cotton industry. As it currently stands, traditional cotton consumes more chemical pesticides than any other crop.

 Organic cotton is catching up fast. People are slowly but surely getting aware about the use of pesticides in conventional cotton and toxic chemicals while dyeing and finishing cotton textiles.

Based in Washington D.C., Organic Trade Association highlights; organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.

Organic fashion and textiles are getting popular day by day. It makes lot of sense to wear organic cotton made clothes as they are safer on skin and kinder to the planet.

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), is a powerful organization in Europe. GOTS was developed through collaboration by leading standard setters with the aim of defining requirements that are recognized world-wide and that ensure the organic status of textiles from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labeling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.

Soil Association, UK’s leading food and farming charity and organic certification body, is a founding member of GOTS, highlights several reasons why organic textiles are kinder, cleaner and better:

  • Organic fibers are grown without using harmful pesticides or genetically modified organisms so promote a healthier farm and environment.
  • Soil Association and GOTS do not allow harmful manufacturing chemicals in organic textile production, so it’s better for wildlife and workers.
  • Social conditions are high in organic textile factories, and organic cotton production can help farmers find a way out of poverty.
  • Animal welfare is at the heart of organic systems, so is better for animals growing our fibers.
  • Organic textiles manufactured under Soil Association and GOTS approved factories does not contain allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemicals.

The apparel industry is currently walking an ethical tightrope, with the media circus master cracking the whip at the chemical-laced fashion beast. But as the environmental and human toll mounts, we are on the verge of a cotton revolution

Cheap clothing made of conventional cotton externalizes many costs, including environmental degradation and worker abuse. The benefits of organic cotton clothing include clean production, fair treatment of workers, and no toxic chemicals in your clothes.

In 2011 organic fiber sales in the United States grew by 17.1 percent over the previous year, to reach $708 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey. The future looks promising, with organic fiber products appearing in more mainstream outlets, led by large and small U.S. textile retailers alike.

Organic cotton has not reached everywhere yet. Apparel industry is responsible for approximately 10 percent of the global carbon footprint, serious efforts has to be made to reduce the environmental impact of our clothing.

Read further on Organic Trade Association website on what are organic fiber products and how can you identify genuine organic clothing in the United States.

Resources:

https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/health-beauty-textiles/organic-textiles/http://ota.com/sites/default/files/indexed_files/OrganicCottonFacts2015_0.pdfhttp://www.global-standard.org/http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mattias-wallander/organic-cotton-threading-_b_4784430.html

Main image courtesy: survivalrenewableenergy.com

 

 

Polyester Versus Cotton

 


Know The Fiber That Covers your Skin


Polyester

Cotton

Ø  Synthetic fiber derived from petroleum, basically plastic.

Ø  Polyester is hydrophobic in nature and hardly allows moisture through the fabric. When we sweat, sweat drop begin to deposit on our skin as garment is unable to regain moisture. The polyester garment wearer can feel discomfort and sweaty.

Ø  Polyester is non breathable and resists water on its surface. Moisture vapor transmission is relevant to the nature of the fiber. Polyester doesn’t allow moisture on its surface therefore it cannot pass vapor easily through the pore of the fabric.

Ø  Polyester is highly sensitive to static electricity and polyester clothes remain cling next to skin causing discomfort. Small gap between garments and skin traps hot air, as polyester is a less air permeable fiber, discomfort can cause. Human dry skin & hair is charged positively whenever it rubbed with other materials like polyester.

Ø  Friction of polyester with the skin creates some sort of sound that can create discomfort wearing polyester. Polyester can cause discomfort like itchy, tickling, harsh feeling and rashes.

Ø    Polyester is harsh on hand feel

Ø   Polyester produces negative charge while abrasion

Ø  Non breathable polyester cannot release the air trapped between the polyester clothes and the skin. Air getting body temperature retains heat. This increase the temperature and discomfort.

Ø  Polyester is synthetic fiber and originates from petrochemical

Ø  Polyester is neither biodegradable not sustainable.

Ø  Polyester weights light, has a better thermal insulation for winter clothing

Ø  Polyester has a fair wind resistance

Ø  Polyester has 4% shrinkage (100 wash results)

Ø  Polyester takes short time to dry

Ø  Polyester has 8% loss of strength

Ø  Polyester is recyclable

Ø  Polyester needs less water to produce

Ø  Polyester uses oil and gas reserves. Its life cycle starts with oil extraction

Ø  Polyester is not landfill biodegradable

 

Ø  A natural fiber from cotton plant, cellulose based.

Ø  Cotton fiber is absorbent, owing to the countless polar -OH groups in its polymers; these attracts water molecules. Cotton can absorb our perspiration leaving the cotton garment wearer with a comfortable feel.

Ø  Cotton is breathable. Due to the hydrophilic nature of cotton it attracts moist vapor in its surface and then begins to transfer the vapor though the garments. When a fabric allows the transport of water vapor at a faster rate, it is said to be a breathable fabric.

Ø  Cotton is the neutral in static charge. That means it does not react with other matters when it is rubbed with other materials. Cotton is best for non-static clothes.

Ø  Cotton gives a better sensorial comfort, which means a better effect of fabric properties on human skin. Cotton creates a smooth and gentle fabric. It is uncommon to get allergic reactions when wearing cotton clothes (untreated to various finishes like “repellent” or “retardant”). Cotton is less hazardous.

Ø  Cotton is soft on hand feel

Ø  While abrasion, cotton does not produce any charge

Ø  Cotton clothes has a better contact with the skin and due to its breathable property, cotton releases air between the cotton garment and skin into the environment helping skin stay cool.

Ø  Cotton crop uses lot of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, unless it is grown organically

Ø  Cotton is sustainable, renewable and biodegradable

Ø  Cotton weights medium and has a lower thermal insulation for winter clothing.

Ø  Cotton has a good wind resistance

Ø  Cotton has 7% shrinkage (100 washes)

Ø  Cotton takes long time to dry

Ø  Cotton has 17% loss of strength after 100 washes

Ø  Cotton is recyclable

Ø  Cotton crop needs higher amount of water

Ø  Cotton grows on plant. Crop uses pesticides and fertilizers, unless organic

Ø  Cotton is landfill biodegradable

 

 

Resources:

Are Your Cleaning Products Clean?


“If you change nothing, nothing will change”- Unknown


Are Your Cleaning Products Clean? Detox Your Laundry

American family launders about three hundred loads of clothes each year, according to a survey done by Proctor & Gamble, the laundry products we choose have a huge potential impact on our personal and collective well-being.

Cleaning products play an essential role in our daily lives. By safely and effectively removing soils, germs and other contaminants, they help us to stay healthy, care for our homes and possessions, and make our surroundings more pleasant, provided cleaning products are clean (safe) at first place.

Many years back when someone talked to me about toxic contaminants, I always thought about traffic pollution, outdoor fumes, industrial waste, garbage choked waterways. But then I learned, there is much more to it.

Majority of people spend most of their time indoors.  In fact, the typical home in the US contains anywhere from 3 to 10 gallons of contaminants from glass and bathroom cleaners to garden pesticides and fertilizers. There lye many chemicals in your closets too. Wonder what? Read my articles to find out.

Doing our routine things, these days, can expose us and our families to potential dangers of toxic chemicals, like wearing toxic clothes and doing laundry with toxic detergents.

Whatever liquid or powder you’re pouring into your washing machine week after week, how do you know how safe any of these detergents are… or are not?

Laundry detergents usually contain chemicals that are dangerous to the health and irritating to the skin. A residue of these chemicals remains on clothing after it is washed. Clear evidence of this can be found in scented products, because chemical fragrances would be useless if they were simply washed out. Chemical fragrances are especially bad, and are known for aggravating asthma.

European Union has addressed this issue by enforcing legislative changes to protect sensitized consumers. 26 key fragrance allergens were identified, detergent and cosmetic products containing these chemicals above specific threshold concentrations (10 p.p.m. for leave on products; 100 p.p.m. for rinse off products) are now labelled with the relevant nomenclature. Clear product labeling would therefore allow fragrance-sensitive individuals to make an informed choice.

No such labeling requirements exist in the United States.

Listed below are a few out of twenty-four common fragrances that are added to detergents, based on a list published in July 2006 article in the journal “Contact Dermatitis”:

Amyl cinnamic aldehyde, benzyl salicylate, citral, farnesol, gamma methyl ionone and many more.

Detergent manufacturers in United States, by law, are not required to list the ingredients on labels. The information we see on the labels is just to give us a false sense of security by using commonly generic language like “Ingredients includes surfactants”.

Dr. Samuel Epstein, co-author of The Safe Shoppers Bible says, “Since 1965 more than 4 million distinct chemical compounds have been reported in the scientific literature; of these, 70,000 are in commercial production and have been completely untested or inadequately tested, which raises questions about their safety.”

Dr. Samuel Epstein is eminent toxicologist and founder of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, identified some of the new surfactants in laundry soap:

  • Diethanolamine and triethanolamine are synthetic surfactants, designed to neutralize acid, are carcinogens. These are most dangerous chemicals as they are known to be hormone disruptors.
  • ETDA (ethylenediaminetraacetic acid), used to reduce water hardness, can disrupt the hormones of human and wildlife.
  • PEG (polyethylene glycol) made from ethylene oxide, is a potent carcinogen and slow to biodegrade in environment.
  • Quaternium-15 is a surfactant and disinfectant that releases formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.

Many of above mentioned compounds can also be found in shampoos and skin lotions.

It does not end here. Scented laundry products release toxins and many fabric softeners have harmful chemicals.

The information of “indoor chemicals” is mind boggling.

Dr. Samuel Epstein further state “There are many ways to ingest toxic household chemicals; even if we scrub the bath with the window open we would still inhale some of the fumes, and simply by holding a rag or sponge cloth doused with cleaner ensures absorption through the skin. The innocuous act of eating off plates washed with conventional detergents is potentially harmful due to detergent residues contaminating the food. Similarly, residues from washing detergents can be absorbed through the skin from clothes”.

Researcher Alfred Zam suggests “If you can’t eat it don’t breathe it.”

Many pre-war household cleaning items were made from foodstuffs e.g. vinegar, borax, lemon juice, beeswax

In fall 2011 Women’s Voices for Earth commissioned lab tests on 20 cleaning products and found that “problematic” levels of 1,4-dioxane were detected in original formula Tide detergent as well as fragrance-free Tide Free & Clear. Findings were provided to Procter & Gamble and action demanded. Company’s response was “There’s no reason to freak out. We are many, many levels of magnitude below the levels that are considered any level of safety risk,” Tim Long, a Procter & Gamble toxologist said.

If it is so, why is it so hard for the companies to label the ingredients. Is there anything to hide?

Safe Laundry Makes Home Safe.  Below safe methods can be incorporated to save our skin:

  • Use nontoxic laundry detergents created by green technology
  • Use soap nuts (dried berries) like regular detergent. Available at health food stores, they come from a tree native to Asia. Use whole or grind them and throw them in the washing machine. They release saponin that gets in the water and helps to dissolve dirt and stains from clothes. A soap nut liquid detergent can also be made by boiling them in the water. They are 100% bio-degradable as well. Click here to see some recipes.
  • Special magnates are available which can be thrown in the washing machine. When in laundry, they help to remove dirt from clothes. They don’t need to be replaced and can be used repeatedly. Learn more.
  • Do it Yourself. Make your own laundry detergent. Take two cups of grated gentle soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s, mix it well with one cup of washing soda and one cup of borax. Add one fourth cup of the mixture to each load of laundry. Add white vinegar during the rinse cycle to brighten the appearance of clothes.
  • If you want to make a natural detergent, borax free, learn here
  • Check out this useful detergent determinant
  • Check our Laundering supplies in EWG database
  • Say good bye to fabric softener. Say hello to white vinegar. It softens clothes and remove sour smell from wet clothes that stay in the machine for long.
  • Instead of dryer sheets, use wool dryer balls. Wool dryer balls are antibacterial, reduce drying time and reduce static cling.
  • Avoid taking your clothes to a drycleaner (sorry drycleaners- welcome to organic world). Dry cleaning chemicals are heavy toxic. If you really want something to be dry cleaned, look for organic and natural dry cleaners. They are out there and deserve your business. Help them and help yourselves.

Good Riddance of Bad Chemicals

Note: We do not endorse any of the products listed above and we are not associated with them. This information is made available for health cautions readers as an alternate healthier choice. Further research is encouraged to find the best natural products.

Resources:

Wear, Donate, Recycle

recycle-clothes


Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. – New England proverb


Council for Textile Recycling, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Bel Air, Maryland, explains in a simple language, “When your clothing, footwear, household textiles, and accessories are out of style, worn, torn, stained, or just no longer useful, donate or recycle them. It’s really that easy”.

The Council’s goal is to achieve zero textile waste going to landfills by 2037. To achieve this, the CTR plans to focus its efforts on three key areas:

  1. In the next few years, generating the resources needed to fund a multi-media Public Service Announcement campaign centered around a simple message: “Wear. Donate. Recycle.”
  2. Building an open source platform that facilitates contacts between member stakeholders with the aim of building relationships and sharing information that support post-consumer textile waste diversion activities.
  3. Engaging brands, retailers and municipalities in advocacy and other efforts aimed at informing the public about available end of life (EOL) options for PCTW.

Now that’s a real tough goal. But why have an easy goal for a tough problem? The problem of textile and clothing waste is gigantic. But if you really think, solution to this humungous problem is simple if it starts at the consumer’s level. Wear, donate and recycle. That’s what Council of Textile Recycling suggests.

Thank you CTR, for doing what you are doing.

Many people are not even aware that they can recycle their clothes. 95% of clothes can be reused and recycled, so why throw it away.

Reusing and recycling clothes helps save natural resources. It helps to save the most pressing issue today: water. Huge amounts of water is used in cultivating crops and producing textiles. It also saves dyes and chemicals used while producing textiles and clothing.

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), founded in 1932, is an association composed of companies from the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Pacific Rim countries who are involved in every phase of industry. These companies are involved with the grading and sorting of mixed post-consumer textiles for the wiping materials and used clothing markets.

SMART shares information on items made by recycling textiles:

  • Stuffed toys and pillows become car seat stuffing and automobile insulation.
  • T-shirts, sheets, towels, and clothing become wiping cloths.
  • Denim becomes home insulation.
  • Shoe soles become paving material.
  • Sweaters and coats become carpet padding.
  • Curtains and drapes become stuffing for pillows, sleeping bags, and animal beds.
  • Wool sweaters and materials become baseball and softball filling.
  • Velvet materials become jewelry box lining.
  • Leftover fabric scraps become paper money.

Below is life cycle of second hand clothing:

pic

Source: Council for Textile Recycling

A report published in Chicago Tribune on April 12, 2016 highlights that from April 18 to 24, World Recycle Week, H&M aimed to collect 1000 tons of old clothing. H&M gave shoppers 30 percent discount in exchange of outgrown, hole ridden or no long trendy garments. H&M says it has recycled 25,000 tons of unwanted clothing since it began the in-store recycling program — which runs year-round with a 15 percent discount reward — in 2013. It aims to collect another 1,000 tons during its World Recycle Week push, and partnered with singer M.I.A. on a song and music video promoting the effort.

Now that might not be enough but it’s a great start by a popular “Fast Fashion” retailer.

I like clothes and used to buy a lot of them. Growing up, I never saw a piece of textile or cloth being wasted or trashed. Usually, non-required clothes were given away to people who can use them. So I developed a habit of not trashing my clothes. But with the passage of time, I collected lot of clothes that I was not using and piled up in the basement in various bags. I pledged to clear that up in 2016.

So this year, I worked for an hour, every Sunday, for 2 months and sorted out all my clothes and participated in a garage sale.

Here is a picture.

20160530_165329

Sold clothes for $250 and donated rest of them to a thrift store.  You get a tax benefit too. It was a lot of work but worth it. Now I am a happy man with fewer clothes in my closet.

I am really glad I did this. Here is my future plan: buy less, wear, donate and recycle.

Walking the talk.

References:

  • http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/
  • http://www.smartasn.org/
  • Main image courtesy http://www.charterrecycling.com/recycling-facts/how-to-recycle/
  • Other images courtesy pixabay.com

25 Tips For Healthy Wear

safe wear


“Care The Skin You’re In”


25 TIPS FOR HEALTHY WEAR

1. Wear untreated organic cotton or other natural organic fiber made clothes. This is the top choice for wearing healthy.

2. Wear natural fabric made clothes such as cotton, linen, wool and silk.

3. Avoid super tight synthetic (or any) underwear and innerwear. Genital area is most sensitive part of human body for chemicals absorption. In case of men, New York University’s dermatology medical journal suggests “The scrotum (pouch of skin containing testicles) must be recognized as a skin area with remarkable permeability. It provides a unique percutaneous doorway for the entrance of drugs into the system and is thus uniquely susceptible to toxic and irritant agents”. American Journal of Public Health suggests “wearing of tight fitting clothing, coupled with nylon underwear and/or a panty hose, creates more warmth and moisture in the vaginal and cervical areas, thus producing an environment favorable for colonization of Candida albicans and other yeasts”.

4. Wash new clothes before you wear. New clothes come with various chemical finishes from garment washes and bare hand handling from packing workers and store handlers.

5. Avoid “wrinkle resistance” “non-iron” “stain repellent” “water repellent” or any kind of “repellent” “retardant” “resistance” clothing. They have a coat of chemical on them that repels water and other stuff to enter the fabric. Some of the chemicals quoted on fabrics are known to be hormone disrupters.

6. Avoid synthetic wear. Yes, you read it right. Avoid synthetic wear. If you are looking for good quality synthetic wear, well, there is none. King of synthetic, “polyester”, is man-made by melting and combining two type of oil derived plastic pallet. Avoid wearing plastic. Let your skin breathe. Its biggest organ of our body and shines on top of our inner body. Keep it cool.

7. Avoid synthetic wear while sports and fitness. Cotton sucks the sweat, synthetic does not. Cotton shirt becomes heavier with sweat and does not dry soon. That’s the reason we feel uncomfortable with cotton when we sweat a lot. Synthetic does reverse, so we like synthetic. Let the cotton do what nature has made it for. Absorb. Skin breathes as cotton breathes. Synthetic fabric does not breathe. Change your cotton shirt between workouts.

8. Wear light color cotton clothes, specially for babies and toddlers. They have much less weight of synthetic dyes and chemicals on it, literally. Light color fabrics have to deal with 30% less processing. You can go a step further and buy light color organic cotton clothes for babies. Babies skin is most sensitive and soft. Let natural organic cotton take care of it.

9. Avoid super tight skinny jeans and leggings. They can compress nerves and reduce blood flow to lower legs. This can lead to swelling and numbness. Let the blood do what it is supposed to do. Flow.

10. Limit super tight top wear. They squish your upper body. Longer you wear, it can trigger upper body fatigue and stomach ache. Limit the time you wear them.

11. Avoid colored underwears. Dark colors have more synthetic dyes and chemicals and can irritate sensitive skin people. Use pastel colors. Organic undyed is the best option.

12. Beware of kid’s sleepwear with flame retardant. Flame retardants are known to have PBDEs that are linked with thyroid problems, brain damage, fertility problems and even cancer. Avoid them.

13. Wear loose fitted clothes in hot and humid environment. Chemical coated fabric keeps rubbing against the skin in a sweaty, hot and humid places. It might lead a condition called intertrigo (rash in the flexures or body folds).   Obese and heavier people working in hot and humid climates can catch “textile contact dermatitis”.

14. Avoid underwire bras. They may be made of unsafe metal and can hurt your skin. Tight bras, synthetic bras are linked with breast cancer. This is an important issue. Read more.

15. Avoid tight shoes. They squish our feet, same as tight clothing. Sacrificing foot comfort and health for sake of tight trendy designer shoes in not a good idea. Tight and improper size shoes have been linked with blisters because of friction, corns caused by rubbing and pressure and of feet feeling tired and crammed.

16. Wear 100% cotton socks with light colors. Avoid spandex in socks as they tighten on our feet. Our feet are a pair of fleet that take us everywhere. Don’t let synthetic socks infect them. Cotton fabric breathes. Feet are in socks and then in synthetic shoes. Cotton socks help them breathe.

17. Avoid doing dirty laundry with dirty detergents. Most detergents contain harmful chemicals and leave residues on clothes and are infused into our skin. Skin is to eliminate toxins and not to breathe. Use detergent made with green technology. Even better, use organic homemade detergent and softener. Read my eye opener article “Are your cleaning products clean” for tips.

18. Kids fire retardant clothes come with a harmful chemicals linked with life threatening diseases. Avoid them. Kids have most sensitive skin. Cover it with light colored organic cotton clothes.

19. Flip flops are loose on feet but if we wear them for a long time, they are not good for feet. They give no support and do not protect the feet. For short time flip flops are fine, we need a more structured shoe that protect feet and ankle.

20. Tight neckties for men can cause circulation problems in neck. Studies have seen modest changes in cerebrovascular reactivity.

21. Avoid clothes suggesting dry cleaning. Dry cleaning brings harmful chemicals and we wear them. If you have to, look for organic and natural dry cleaning places.

22. Wash used, secondhand, gifted or donated clothes. They might carry germs on them.

23. Avoid tight belts. They can cause pain and tingling. You might want to loosen that belt after big meal. Read more.

24. High heels are unsafe. They shorten calf muscles and increase pressure on back and knees. Avoid them as much as possible.

25. Natural fiber made clothes are healthy for consumer and for planet earth. They are sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable. By opening our closet for them, we are not only taking a step forward towards healthy lifestyle, responsible consumerism but also helping planet earth to recover from environmental damage.

The best foundation you can wear is glowing healthy skin.

Wear healthy and save your skin.

(Images courtesy Pixabay.com

Resources

  1. Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN
  2. http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Dermatitis/files/clothing.pdf
  3. http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/textile-dermatitis.html

How to Read a Label


“It’s a habit of mine now, noticing, labels, logos, shoes” – Michael Jordan


Reading Label and Beyond

Michael Jordan might look at the labels for a different purpose but have you ever considered taking a clothing label seriously? Clothing labels are not as transparent as food labels. Food labels give nutrient information, calories and fat, daily value, serving size, and fiber. Food labels also provide a foot note with information on Sodium, cholesterol, total carbohydrates, saturated fats etc. That’s a good amount of information on the label.

Let us see what clothing label tells and what it does not. Below is the information that can be found on clothing label:

  1. Brand name
  2. Country of origin
  3. Registered Identification Number (RN#): R N number is issued by U. S. Federal Trade Commission for a business residing in U.S. Manufacturer and importer can be tracked on U.S. Federal Trade Commission website with a R. N. number.
  4. Type of fabric: In the U. S. the generic names of all fibers present in the amount of five percent or more of the total fiber weight must be provided on the label.
  5. Care Instructions: A satisfactory method of care necessary for the ordinary use of the garment. The label must also provide warnings against the use of any method which the consumer can use that would harm the product. care symbols

Click here to learn how to read care label

Above stated information is necessary for all manufacturers and importers to label on every garment, as per the rules by Federal Trade Commission.

6) Many garments have additional hang tags with important information about the fabric finishes and various attributes the garment carries.

Labels and tags (Point 4 and 6)  provide important information, wherein consumer can detect toxin levels in the garments.

The information below will help to read the label and beyond:

If the garment is made with 100% natural fiber (plants and animal fibers), it would be listed with names given below:

100% – Cotton, Linen, Silk, Wool (Lambswool, Cashmere, Mohair, Angora, Camel hair, Alpaca), Hemp, Jute (in case of carpets).

Look for “100%”. 100% means there is no other synthetic fiber mixed. Other natural fibers are: Abaca, Coir, Ramie, Sisal.

If the garment is made with Synthetic fiber (chemically produced fibers), it would be listed with the names given below:

100% – Polyester, Microfiber, Acrylic, Nylon, Elastane(spandex), Lyocell, Rayon, Acetate, Polyamide, Modacrylic.

Many garment fibers are blended, say 50% cotton 50% polyester. This means the garment contains 50% synthetic fiber (or as specified).

If you find terms “Resistance”, “Repellent” or “Retardant”  mentioned on the fancy tags, with or without diagrams, means that particular garment is quoted with chemicals (chances are toxic) to resist water, stain, soil etc. Permanent press, wrinkle resistance are other danger areas to avoid.  Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon, that are harmful for the skin.

My recommendation is to avoid clothes with harmful chemical coating. Cotton has a natural property of water absorbency. Cotton is used by the medical industry because of its natural absorbency. We do not want our skin to inhale harmful chemicals just to avoid our shirt to get wet from a spill or a stain.

Keep in mind that many fabrics (including natural fibers) undergo significant processing that often involves detergents, synthetic dyes, formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage, volatile organic compounds, dioxin-producing bleach, chemical fabric softeners.

All fabrics, including organic fabric, are treated with chemicals at some point during processing. Still, some choices are better than others. In general, it is beneficial to use natural fibers, they are safer. A step further to wear safe is to look for 100% organic cotton clothing. They are the safest of all available clothing. 100% organic cotton clothing may be processed to some extent, still they are often a better choice than synthetics or non-organic cotton.

Many certifications, such as the new Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex, restricts the toxic chemicals. GOTS restricts amine releasing AZO dyes and disperse dyes (must be <30 mg/kg); chromium, cobalt, copper, nickel, mercury, lead, antimony and arsenic are all restricted. Look for GOTS and Oeko-Tex symbols on clothing tags.

Listed below are most toxic (from the top) to safest level (at the bottom) of clothes (#1 is worst and #12 is best):

  1. All synthetic fiber made clothes with “special” finishes (wrinkle resistance, stain resistance etc., even natural fibers with these finishes are bad)
  2. All synthetic mix fibers (50% polyester 50% nylon)
  3. All 100% synthetic clothes recommending dry cleaning (chemical dry cleaning uses harmful chemicals)
  4. All 100% synthetic fiber made clothes (includes sports and fitness clothes)
  5. Clothes blended with low cotton percentage. Like 80% polyester (or any other synthetic fiber) and 20% cotton (or any natural fibers)
  6. Clothes with synthetic fiber lining.  Synthetic linings will touch your skin
  7. Clothes with lower percentage of synthetic and higher percentage of cotton, like 80% cotton and 20% polyester, no finishes
  8. 100% cotton made clothes, no finishes.
  9. 100% cotton made clothes with symbols like GOTS or Oeko-Tex (they restrict harmful chemicals in dyes and chemicals.
  10. 100% Organic cotton clothes or natural fibers with light colors, no finishes
  11. 100% Organic cotton clothes or natural fibers with GOTS GOTS or Oeko-Tex symbols Oko-Tex
  12. 100% Organic cotton clothes undyed. This category clothes will have no synthetic dyes and least chemically processed. This is the safest choice.

Organic food, pure water, and natural or organic clothing can work together to enhance your well being and help live a healthier life. Reducing toxic load may seem like an overwhelming task. Just like any other change, this change can also be made step by step. Over time, there will be improvement in your own life and in the world around you. Change in the world begins with making simple changes in one’s life.

References:

Are You Tox-Sick? Three Easy Tips To Start Saving Your Skin

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“The Superfund legislation set up a system of insurance premiums collected from the chemical industry to clean up toxic wastes. This new program may prove to be as far-reaching and important as any accomplishment of my administration. The reduction of the threat to America’s health and safety from thousands of toxic-waste sites will continue to be an urgent but bitterly fought issue-another example for the conflict between the public welfare and the profits of a few private despoilers of our nation’s environment” – President Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith Memoirs of President (1980), 591.


Are you “Tox-Sick”?

In the book “Tox-Sick”, Suzanne Somers write about the toxins in our body, diseases caused by toxins and the doctors who can help. Author Somers identifies six areas of toxic that are listed below:

  • Plastic and other Chemicals
  • The low fat food movement and other processed, sugar-filled foods
  • Toxic mold
  • The overuse of pills
  • GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
  • EMFs (Electric and Magnetic fields) and Cell Phones

Chemicals in textile and clothing falls in first category.

Suzanne Somers mentions her personal life events in the book to explain how deadly toxins are. The goal to write “Tox-Sick” is to identify the toxic threats, one by one, and dismantle them.

I have similar goal, “To reach as many people as possible, and let them know about the toxins in the clothes they wear”.

I want to let the consumers know, that they have a choice, to wear toxins or to wear healthy. I want to share information on textile and clothing industry and the facts underlying “Resistance”, “Retardant”, and “Repellent”. The various chemicals that are applied on our clothes under the names of various finishes. To name a few: flame resistance, stain resistance, bug repellent, water repellent, crease resistant, wrinkle resistant, mosquito repellent, soil resistance, light resistance, antimicrobial finish, moth proof, temperature regulating finish, moisture management, easy care finish and list goes on.

Although the research and experiments on synthetic fibers was going on from long, Rayon was the first artificial textile fiber, introduced in 1924 for commercial production. Since it is a man-made wood based compound, the true first synthetic fiber was nylon, its petro- molecule source being toluene, was introduced in 1939 for commercial production and used for mass production of parachutes for use in World War II. It was a less expensive alternate to silk. DuPont chemist Wallace Hume Carothers is generally credited for the inventor of Nylon.

Then came Acrylic and modacrylic, wash and wear fabric in 1950, which replaced wool in sweaters. Wool is expensive but nothing keeps body warm as wool as it is natural. Acrylic can create skin sensitives. Next time while buying a sweater, put the fabric between your teeth. If you get a crackling feeling, like fire hissing, its acrylic. Same it does to your skin. It crackles and hisses on your skin and lets the chemicals rub on the skin.

Polyester and Spandex followed in 1950s. They are made from xylene, ethylene and olefin, produced by cracking petroleum molecules into propylene and ethylene gases.  There are many more toxic fibers which I’ll keep writing about in my next articles.

My Blog articles are written with the idea and goal of creating awareness about a subject that is barely talked.  The point is to reach out to various communities and let them have a healthier choice of clothes.

It’s not that people don’t understand. They are just busy with their work and priorities. They may have bigger concerns and issues. The prime subject of safety from toxins is food, and it should be. People read so much about food toxicity. Health conscious people read about food to eat and to avoid, on daily basis. After all, we intake food numerous times a day, at numerous places.

New recipes are made by restaurant and food industry, every single day. There are healthy and there are unhealthy food places.  Most of the fast food restaurants are simply unhealthy. There are better restaurants out there, but they might not be as careful with the calorie count of every food they make.  How can you find out? Ask the server about calorie count of your food, before ordering, in a restaurant. Ask for each of the drink and food consumed, and them sum it up. You will be surprised.

When you keep reading about the subjects that matters and concerns your life, there is more to learn. It’s a daily practice. Industry’s job is to keep making new recipes every single day, whether it is in a restaurant or in a textile lab. Recipe for new “repellent” on your clothes. It’s our job to keep protecting ourselves from “bad recipes”. Good for their profit, bad for health. These are recipe for fast food and fast fashion. You don’t want to be get caught in the fast lane that goes to drug store.

I know, by experience, that usually one food item served by restaurants, is a little too much to eat all at once.  At least it’s true for me. I knew this “problem” for long. Usually we do eat what we can and take the leftovers as carry out. But as long as the plate stays on the table, we keep eating. Especially when we are with family and friends, busy talking, to the point that we stuff ourselves to our fullest desire. When our overburdened stomach screams no, then we take the leftover to go.  With alcoholic drinks its worse. I’ll tell you a small trick to save yourselves from this situation. When you know the food you are about to order, is going to be too much for you, ask the server to serve you half and the second half to be packed, to go, even before it reaches your table.

Now while we keep educating ourselves on the presence of toxins in clothes, let me tell you three tricks on how to start acting today, and save your skin from toxicity.

  1. My recommendation is not to wear polyester. If you “have to”, wear a light color 100% organic cotton t-shirt underneath. Don’t let petrochemical made shirt touch your skin. Let natural organic cotton shirt hug your body. Wear light color as it has less weight of synthetic dyes and chemicals. This can be done for all synthetic tops you “have to” wear.
  2. Wash your new clothes before you wear. Many clothes come with various garment washes (chemicals), to make them look “silkier and softer”. That means after the garment is sewed and all ready, it goes to wash factory to get some “chemical finish on it”. There is lot of handling by bare hands, before packing.                                                                                                                                                                           Garments are touched by garment workers and handlers before being packed. Workers go to lunch room and then pack the garments, they go to rest rooms and then pack the garments and they do whatever they want to do and then pack the garments. Garment packing is later opened up in stores and touched by handlers and people who hang them in the stores, tag them etc. Then touched by dozens of people who try those clothes. No one cares to wash their hands for 20 secs before doing that. This brings not only a load of chemicals on each piece of cloth, but germs too. Wash in warm water with mild soap before wearing. It makes a big difference.
  3. Never, ever, wear synthetic and super tight undergarments. Synthetic clothes do not breathe and raise the temperature around the body parts leading to heat and sweat. Hence infections can be caused. Wear loose organic cotton underwear. There is a reason some parts in your body are kept hanging by nature.

Need more tips? Click Here

Be smart, wear healthy!

References:

  • “Killer Clothes” written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN
  • “Tox-Sick” written by Suzanne Somers
  • Images courtesy Pixabay.com

 

Organic Heals Planet Earth

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“By looking to the Source, to the Creator of nature, we can remember how to navigate life organically, with less struggle, and less suffering.” – Jeffrey R. Anderson, The nature of Things- Navigating Everyday Life with Grace


Organic Heals Planet Earth!

Simple definition of organic: grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals, related to or obtained from living things. Having characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal.

In the middle of the 1800’s, Justis von Liebig (1803 – 1873) analyzed plant material for its chemical components and found that while phosphorus, potassium, and in particular nitrogen were mainly responsible for the growth of plants.

Because it is critical for plant growth, nitrogen is a limiting reagent and usually a scarce commodity in a natural environment.  However, man has introduced very large quantities of nitrates into the environment in the form of nitrates or anhydrous ammonia used as fertilizer.

Thomas Corriher writes a report published on “The Health Wize report & Fidelity Ministry” April 5, 2009, where he states that high applications of fertilizers and pesticides can increase nutrients and toxins in groundwater and surface waters, incurring health and water purification costs, and decreasing fishery and recreational values.

Organic crops are generally far more flavorful, since they contain many more nutrients. A person’s mouth can actually taste the difference between God’s goodness and man’s folly. For the environmentalists out there, growing organically embraces the ideal that agriculture should meet the needs of the present without harming future generations.

Now where do we stand when it comes to textiles and clothing as far as fertilizers, chemicals and toxin levels are concerned. My rating is, pretty bad.

It is really confusing and hard for an average person who does not have any knowledge on how textiles and clothes are made, to choose a piece of cloth having safety and health concerns in mind. Anyone can be easily deceived by the look and by devious fancy labels. Specially for teens, fancy clothes are attractive. Kids get attracted to them and buy them with a good thought. That thought is for looking good. They don’t know about the hidden toxins in those clothes. How would they know? Toxins don’t come labeled. Toxins are invisible and harm invisibly until some kind of infection or allergy they have caused on the skin. Consumers won’t know what they have inhaled from those “beautiful apparel”.

Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN write in their book, Killer Clothes: Children are vulnerable to chemical sensitivities triggered by the clothing they wear, especially if they are required to wear uniforms during the school year. Many school uniforms are coated with family of chemicals called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and given the fabric stain resistance and the “noniron” resistance often found in school trousers and skirts. These perfluorinated compounds have been classified as probable cancer-causative agents by US Environmental Protection Agency.

Now here is my explanation in simple language. If you buy a polyester or other synthetic made shirt or bottoms, you are buying a Man-made fiber from petrochemicals. This is no less than plastic woven into thread and made into cloths and further loaded with dyes and chemicals to make it in a shape and form which is quite “likable”. It is topped with more finishes to make it fire retardant, stain resistance etc. By the time it covers your body, it is all ready to infuse your skin and nose with numerous toxins and put you on the road of “getting sick”, slowly but surely. And trust me, none of the words I wrote in this paragraph is exaggerated or inflated. It’s the truth which I learnt from my experience and working in textile and clothing industry for 20 years.

I cannot wear 100% polyester. It eats my body. I can feel it. I cannot wear polyester socks. They suffocate my feet and they are already in the synthetic shoes. I simply dislike polyester. I have disposed of many polyester clothes in the course of time. Am I polyester or synthetic free? No, I am not. It’s too hard. It is everywhere. It is hidden in blends.  It is difficult to find clothes without polyester inside it. Specially woven clothes. Suits, women dresses have lots of synthetic. As far as knits goes, I can be considered as 90% polyester or synthetic free and when it comes to buying, I try to choose clothes with lowest levels of chemicals. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Learn on my blog how to buy clothes with lowest chemical levels. Just keep reading my articles.

So what to switch too. Cotton. Organic Cotton. Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. It helps to improve the quality of land, prevent water contamination and conserve biodiversity.

Organic clothing will cause fewer allergies, reduced respiratory problems (no sneezing in the closets is a sign of improvement). There might not be strong scientific proofs to back up these facts. But if you consult doctors or dieticians or even your grandmother, they will always recommend organic food. Well, that’s true for clothes too. We don’t eat our clothes but our skin inhales it, absorbs it. Like a patch of medicine applied on skin. I would call it indirect eating.

I mean think for yourselves, if we go organic who is going to be benefit? There is a long list of beneficiaries. The factory workers, handlers, sellers, stockers, farmers, farm workers, earth, water ways, herbivorous animals, plants, trees, dyers, garment workers, and finally consumers. Means you. I don’t think it’s a bad deal at all. We just have to make a start.

Fertilizers might have helped to create a lot of food at quick pace to feed the growing population all over the world, but we are starving in food abundance.

Keep reading my articles to know why industry uses so much of synthetic fiber.

References:

 

Fashion Versus Safety Dilemma

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“Buy less, choose well.” -Vivienne Westwood


Fashion Versus Safety Dilemma

Fashion is a good thing. The feeling of looking good in itself is good. Women get charmed and feel happy when they wear their favorite outfit. When fashion comes to their mind, they think in advance, they buy in advance and they love to dress for the moment. It’s an essential part of life for many if not most women. I mean, who doesn’t want to look good, whether it’s a woman or a man. 

Fashion is a powerful form of art. It’s movement, design and architecture all in one. It shows the world who we are and who we’d like to be. It is a way to express yourself.

Lot of time is spent almost every day for the desire of looking good. Many iconic celebrities in the fashion and entertainment world have made some powerful statements about style and fashion.

“I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” —Carrie Bradshaw

“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” —Ralph Lauren

“I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.” —Valentino Garavani

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe

“Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness, simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” —Bo Derek

I think, fashion does not mean buying expensive clothes or more clothes, as fast fashion suggests. It does not mean following each and every trend in the market. That’s like letting the market trends own you. Style and fashion should come from inside. What you like and the way you want to look. The statement you want to make with your clothes.  Don’t let fashion own you, rather you decide what your fashion and style is and what you want to express by the way you dress and live.

Fast fashion is a term used by retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends.

A digital news and lifestyle magazine “TakePart” is featuring independent journalism on today’s most important, socially relevant topics, alongside a social action platform. They started a pledge to help reduce the true cost of fast fashion. Already 13000 people has pledged on it They state on their website:

  • clothing consumption has increased 500 percent in the United States in just the last couple of decades
  • the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter on the planet after oil
  • doing just one load of laundry takes 35 gallons of water

They further state that the trend of affordable “fast fashion” has real consequences for our planet. What if we replaced it with a trend of responsible consumerism that could help provide clean and accessible water for all and sustainable communities everywhere? You can be a part of such a solution.

How? Consume differently. When you have to have that one thing, choose thoughtfully. There are other simple lifestyle shifts that you can make in buying and caring for your clothes, and you can make a dramatic difference in the impact of consumption on the planet and the people involved. You can also require businesses to be part of the solution: Choose who to buy from, and make sure your money does more good than harm—to ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

 I’ll tell you about the pledge in a little bit, before that read this.

Greenpeace International is a powerful organization based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, founded in 1971 and having offices in 55 countries. Greenpeace states that every piece of clothing we buy has had an impact on our planet before we even bring it home. That’s before you step out of the door, walk down the street, and spot that attractive item you see hanging in the window.

First, there’s water consumption. 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year, and a typical pair takes 7,000 liters of water to produce. For a t-shirt, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one. That’s the amount of water an average person drinks over the course of 900 days.

Secondly, there’s the dyeing process of which 1.7 million tons of various chemicals are used; not to mention the hazardous chemicals like PFCs that leave a permanent impact on our environment.

Greenpeace further throws light on clothing that doesn’t make it to market. An estimated 400 billion square meters of textiles are produced annually, of which 60 billion square meters are left on the cutting room floor. Each year over 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide, and after its short lifespan, three out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated. Only a quarter will be recycled.

So how did we get this way? Since when did we get so obsessed with clothes?

One obvious reason is fast fashion. In this era of fast fashion, being seen in the same outfit has been enough to warrant a “tsk-tsk” from the fashion police. Just over the last five years, the top fashion retailers grew 9.7 per cent per year, topping the 6.8 per cent of growth of traditional apparel companies.

How do we fashion responsibly when we are so detached. It’s hard to think about some person on the other side of the world, when you are buying a five dollar t-shirt from Walmart, which might be made by a worker who is not being paid a fair and living wage.  Or while keeping the effects on environment in mind when we buy too many clothes which we might not even use.

 The best way to start would be to keep ourselves informed. Getting educated on this subject by reading more about it. Doing some research before buying and asking questions to ourselves, am I buying right? Am I buying too much?

Fashion is to charm and not to harm. We need to fashion responsibly. We can be a responsible clothing consumer.

 Below is the pledge “TakePart” started:

I pledge to be a responsible consumer and remain aware of the environmental and human effects of the fast fashion industry.

  • Buy clothes made with sustainable fibers (recycled polyester, organic cotton).
  • Ask the brands you buy from how their clothes are made—tweet at them or ask retailers when you are in stores about where, how, and who makes their clothing.
  • Recycle clothes at thrift stores, vintage stores, or donation locations.
  • Participate in clothing-swap meet-ups—it’s fun.
  • Buy what you need, not always what you want.
  • Participate in “slow fashion.”
  • Buy clothes you love, that last, and that have an exceptional warranty policy to help you mend them over time.
  • Wash your jeans less.

Take part and take action.

References:

Wear Clothes Not Chemicals


“We can break the mountains apart; we can drain the rivers and flood the valleys. We can turn the most luxuriant forests into throw-away paper products. We can tear apart the great grass cover of the western plains and pour toxic chemicals into the soil and pesticides onto the fields until the soil is dead and blows away in the wind. We can pollute the air with acids, the rivers with sewage, the seas with oil – all this in a kind of intoxication with our power for devastation at an order of magnitude beyond all reckoning” Thomas Berry

Wear Clothes Not Chemicals

Let’s be practical here. In today’s world, it is not possible to stay away from chemicals or to say no to chemicals in all form or shape. We do not want to go back to caves to avoid chemicals. Chemicals are literally everywhere around us. They are in the food we eat, products we use, clothes we wear, grass we walk on, things we touch and so on. With the progress science has made and things humans have created in the lab we are living in the industrialized world. We love the progress being made and it is undoubtedly the best time in the human history we are living.

But it has come at a cost. Cost which we have to pay for our own growth. Chemicals we created to make products cheaper and turned our back on nature.

So are we better off without the chemicals? Of course we are better of without harmful chemicals. But still we cannot avoid them. So what do we do?

We restrict them. We keep ourselves informed and educated. We need to know what chemicals are life threatening for us and what products we should avoid. 

First, we don’t just absorb synthetic chemicals one time during the average day, we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals as result of using a wide array of consumer products on our skin that contain synthetic ingredients, particularly cosmetics and personal care products. Many of these same chemicals are used in synthetic clothing.  Even natural fiber clothes are topped up with dangerous chemicals. That means we absorb tiny amounts of chemicals repeatedly from multiple sources until they add up and reach a tipping point within us that could be harmful.

Let us talk about chemicals in clothes now. Do you know there are chemicals in the clothes you are wearing right now? I know many people who are well informed in their respective trades but they have no idea about heavy use of chemicals in clothing industry. 

I visited a “clean room” for Nano Fabrication lab at State College, Penn State University campus couple of years back and spoke to a PhD research scholar. While giving me a trip around the lab, he mentioned about a dangerous chemical they have to use and how high precaution and various safety measures they take while handling.  They go an extra mile by wearing safety suits and masks to make sure of no contact or inhalation takes places. In the break the topic changed to clothes and incidentally he was wearing a burnt-out t-shirt. I mentioned about the chemicals used in clothing industry and that the shirt he was wearing goes through a chemical process to create the burn out effect. His reaction was; are their chemicals in clothes too? He was shocked to hear “chemical clothes” story.

Patty and Leigh Anne are two sisters on a mission and expose all about the toxic chemicals (oecotextiles.com) used by textile industry. Their findings are mind boggling and they state “One thing is for sure industry uses a lot of chemicals. During manufacturing it takes from 10% to 100% of the weight of the fabric in chemicals to produce that fabric. The final fabric, if made of 100% cotton or linen, contains about 27%, by weight, chemicals and many of these chemicals are simply not benign”.

All dyed fabrics goes through “wet processing” which means applying a chemical action to the textile. It is a series of chemical applications where fabric is soaked and infused with chemicals, may times. The kind of chemicals vary as per the requirement of the process.

Below is a list of chemicals used under various process of textile dyeing and finishing:

  1. Process of cleaning natural fibers to improve easy care properties uses complexing agents, surfactants (lowers surface tension of water for easy removal of grease and oil), wetting agents (quickens the penetration of finishing liquors), sequestering agents, dispersing agents, emulsifiers.
  2. Chemicals such as acids, bases and salts: synthetic dyes, dye-protective agents, fixing agents, leveling agents, pH regulators, carriers, UV absorbers.

The 2010 AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) lists 2,000 chemical specialties in over 100 categories offered for sale by about 66 companies. This does not include synthetic dyes.

Chemicals companies sell many branded products, made of unknown components, as they are proprietary. Many chemicals are necessary to achieve certain effects, such as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) for fire retardants, formaldehyde resins for crease resistance or Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA’s) for stain protection. The chemicals used to create these effects are proven to to cause cancers or genetic mutations in mammals (humans included). 

Some of those dangerous chemicals are Alkylphenolethoxylates (APEOs), Pentachlorophenols (PCP), Toluene, Dichloromethane (DCM), Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s), Perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS). Heavy metals – copper, cadmium, lead, antimony, mercury among others. 

We see those fancy labels and tags on the garments highlighting stain resistance, wrinkle resistance, waterproofing, perspiration-proof, moth-proof, mildew resistance.  Many chemicals used to get some of these finishes are linked to leukemia and lung cancer and contribute to allergies, skin irritation, insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, nausea and eye and nose irritation.

The clothes we bring in our homes with a thought of “looking good”, makes our skin feel and absorb toxic.

Like food labels, we need to learn to read clothes labels too.

For further in depth knowledge on harmful chemicals in our clothes, keep reading my articles.

References:

  1. Environmental Hazards of the Textile Industry, Hazardous Substances Research Centers, South and Southwest Outreach Program, US EPA funded consortium, June 2006
  2. Lacasse and Baumann, Textile Chemicals: Environmental Data and Facts; German Environmental Protection Agency, Springer, New York, 2004, page 609.
  3. https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/chemicals-used-in-textile-processing/
  4. W D Schindler (2004), P J Hauser, Chemical Finishing of Textiles, Woodhead Publishing
  5. Images courtesy Pixabay.com

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