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.

 References:

 

Natural or Synthetic. You Choose.

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“Man-made fabrics? What provenance do they have? A squirt of gloop into a petri dish? Strands of plastic spun in sterile laboratories? They are but toxins made safe by men in white coats.”-  Fennel Hudson 


Synthetic is lab given and natural is nature given

Human skin, body’s largest organ, acts as a highly absorbent carrier for chemicals that come into direct contact with body’s “miracle garment,” as skin is often called. As Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN, in their book Killer Clothes state that common chemicals that can regularly come into contact with your skin and be absorbed by body tissues include the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, as well as chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic clothing.

What is synthetic clothing? Allow me to throw some light on synthetic clothing. Synthetic fibers, such as nylon and polyester, are produced entirely from chemicals. Synthetic fibers are made from synthesized polymers or small molecules. The compounds that are used to make these fibers come from raw materials such as petroleum based chemicals or petrochemicals.

These materials are polymerized into a long, linear chemical that bond two adjacent carbon atoms. Most common synthetics fibers are polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyolefin. These four dominate the markets. Others common synthetic fibers include modacrylic, rayon, spandex, modal and many more. A synthetic fiber, when magnified, looks like plastic spun together.

Also known as man-made fiber, its chemical composition, structure, and properties are significantly modified during the manufacturing process. Man-made fibers are spun and woven into a huge number of consumer and industrial products, including garments such as shirts, scarves, and hosiery; home furnishings such as upholstery, carpets, and drapes; and industrial parts such as tire cord, flame-proof linings, and drive belts.

Origin of synthetic fibers: Polyester (1953), Rayon (1894) artificial silk, Nylon (1931), Acrylic (1950), Spandex (1959)

Now the main question. Is synthetic fiber/fabric/clothing good for you? The answer is no.

What does synthetic clothes do to harm us?

Man-made petrochemical fibers restrict and suffocate the skin, our largest and most sensitive body organ, making it unable to breathe properly so as it can release toxins. Our skin is biggest eliminative organ in body.

If the toxins are not released from your body in a proper way as nature intends, it can result in a health issue. Toxins store in body fat and body organs. We don’t want that. That is a total no no for anyone, whether he/she is health conscious or not. We cannot move around with toxins stored in our body due to our own clothes. 

The main purpose here is, with help of my experience and study, to reveal the many ways that synthetic clothing and many other components used in their manufacture can cause acute health problems.

Let’s talk about the most popular fiber today, polyester. Everyone has some sort of polyester clothing in their closet. If you like fitness and working out, then I bet you’ll have tons of it. I know how hard it is to find fitness shorts made from natural fiber. If you love sports, you will have lots of polyester clothes.

Check your closet to find out how much synthetic clothing you got, you might be surprise. You might find even undergarments made with polyester. Bras, under wears, socks and even diapers and sanitary pads. All are loaded with polyester fiber. It’s around you, everywhere in your homes. Talk about home furnishing, that’s loaded with polyester or other synthetic fibers too.  Mattresses, upholstery, curtains and carpet. You walk everyday on synthetic fibers. I always wear cotton socks before my feet are about to hit synthetic carpet otherwise it seems like I am walking on a sandpaper. Synthetic fibers make up more than 99% of the fiber used by U.S. carpet industry. Just look at the labels.

There is no doubt polyester is very popular clothing choice, the most popular of all synthetics. Before mentioning on how polyester can harm us let us find out why is it so popular.

Polyester is extremely durable and possess the high tensile strength. It’s tough and rigid. Easily dyed, light weight, resistance to shrinking, stretching and creasing.

Polyester is soft, smooth supple- yet still a plastic. Studies point out again and again that plastics are no good for us. Biggest disadvantage of polyester that outweighs all its benefits is it’s bad for skin and ultimately for our health. It does not breathe. It hinders in body’s natural mechanism of throwing out toxins through skin. Imagine wearing a polyester shirt and shorts in fitness or while sports. That’s the time when your skin needs the most to breathe. We are in gym to stay in shape and get healthy and polyester actually stand in the way. Only reason why we don’t realize is because we don’t see the damage polyester does. Its hidden. Another big disadvantage is the environmental hazard polyester creates. That is for another day.

Polyester contributes to our body burden in ways that we are just beginning to understand.  And because polyester is highly flammable, it is often treated with a flame retardant, increasing the toxic load.  So if you think that you’ve lived this long being exposed to these chemicals and haven’t had a problem, remember that the human body can only withstand so much toxic load – and that the endocrine disrupting chemicals which don’t seem to bother you may be affecting generations to come.

Synthetic fibers, like polyester, can cause harm and when it is loaded with synthetic dyes and chemicals, just imagine how harmful it can be. I strongly recommend reading my forthcoming essays on dyes and chemicals. 

For today just try to look into your closet and see how many polyester clothes you have.

References

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN
  • https://oecotextiles.worcom/2011/10/13/polyester-and-our-health/
  • Main image courtesy Pixabay.com

Care What You Wear

 


“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”. Jim Rohn


Care What You Wear

During 20 years of my experience in textiles and clothing industry, working in three countries, I have come across various kinds of fibers, yarns, fabrics, garments, machines, chemicals, dyes, effluents, labs, recipes, workers and factories. In this journey of buying and selling millions of pieces of garments and thousands of tons of fabrics,  I had a very close interaction with various production processes of textiles and clothing.

If anyone wants information on how to buy healthy clothes, It’s hard to find a website or a blog which throws light on health of our clothes and gives tips on how to read a label. So I started one today.

What? Wait a minute. You might be thinking… health of clothes? What does that even mean? Ok I’ll explain. Stay with me here.

Well, it’s simple; when we buy food, we tend to buy the food that does not cause harm to our body. We read the labels carefully. After all, we don’t want to land in a situation wherein we thought we are eating to live but the food actually makes us sick.

And then we buy various other stuff which comes in contact with our body like soaps, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics and load them on our skin several times a day.  We do check the labels on creams and sprays too so that they don’t have anything harmful inside. But there is a catch, we should know how to read a label.

Now we do all that to keep bad stuff away from our body and protect ourselves. How often do we think when we buy clothes? Hardly ever. At least I was like that when I use to buy clothes years before. I rejected clothes only when I didn’t like them. Never I remember rejecting a piece of garment because it’s unhealthy to my body. But after working in clothing industry for many years I became aware of the dangers that we bring in our homes in the form of various “beautiful” clothes.

Now we come to the real question. What make clothes unhealthy?

You might know about the biggest organ of our body. If you don’t let me tell you. It’s skin. Skin is body’s largest and fastest growing organ. Skin is body’s coat that protects us from cold and warm weathers. Skin keeps our inside in. In 1 inch of skin, you have about 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 60,000 melanocytes (the stuff that makes melanin and gives your skin its color.), 1,000 or more nerve endings. Skin is our sensor, shield and communicator as well as reflection of external beauty. Every day we lose 1 quart of liquid through sweat. When we exercise we sweat one quart each hour. Now here is the important finding: Skin absorbs 60% of what touches it. Many medications are made into creams, gels or patches. These medications penetrate from skin to the bloodstream and delivered to all body parts.

Now name a thing that is in direct touch of our skin most of the time. You are correct.. Clothes.

Martin Fox, Ph.D. author of Healthy Water for Longer Life describes that we absorb more through our skin than through ingesting. In a 15-minute bath, the average adult absorbs 63% of the elements in the water. Drinking 2 liters of water, the absorption rate of elements is only 27%.

If you can not eat it don’t put on your skin.

The point here is, as we do not ignore the importance of quality of food and other stuff that comes in contact with our body, same way we have to treat clothes. Bad clothes can cause harm to our body as they hold our body so close. They hang on us, they hold us, they hug our body, they squeeze us, they go tight on us (at the places where they even should not), they get wet on us, they dry on us, they shine on us, they absorb stuff on us, they litter on our skin, and sometimes they bleed on us and most of all, our skin breathes when they are on top of us. And guess what, there is no such body part which does not come in contact with clothes (include home furnishing here). There is head wear, hand wear, face wear for winters and list goes on and on.

You might not have thought of clothes draining bad stuff in our water system, right from our homes. We wash them once or twice a week and use a lot of water and imagine how much bad stuff can be drained into our water system by bad clothes.

Now I have used this term “bad clothes” many times in this essay. Let me explain what bad clothes is. The simple definition of bad clothes is “Clothes that restrict and suffocate the skin, making it unable to breathe properly so it can release toxins are called bad clothes”

We might not realize that skin is our body’s most important eliminative organ. As Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN author of Killer Clothes describes that by some estimates we release a pound of toxins every day through our skin, assuming that it is allowed to vent as nature intended. If we hold back any percentage of these toxins from being released, they accumulate in body fat and body organs to become like a time bomb, primed to detonate as some future health malady.

If this is what the bad clothes are, then what are good clothes? Good clothes do reverse. They not only let our skin breathe, even when they are sitting on top of us, but also help our skin to release the toxins from inside our body, in the most natural way that nature intends.

See next writing to distinguish between good and bad clothes.

References:

  • American Academy of Dermatology
  • Ramsey’s Center for Natural Healing
  • Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN
  • Main image courtesy Pixabay.com

Healthy Wear