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Toxic Fashion


Care for your clothes, like the good friends they are – Joan Crawford


What are Azo Dyes?

Azo dyes are synthetic and not found naturally in the environment. The risk in the use of azo dyes arises mainly from the breakdown products that can be created in vivo by reductive cleavage of the azo group into aromatic amines.

Due to the toxicity, carcinogenicity and potential mutagenicity of thus formed aromatic amines, the use of certain azo dyes as textile and leather colorants, and the exposure of consumers using the textile and leather colored with azo compounds causes a serious health concern.

In March 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recalled two styles of children’s jeans from Rivers Australia, one style of kids’ jeans and one style of denim shorts from Just Jeans, and a pillow case from Pillow Talk, which may have contained potentially harmful azo dyes.

Independent Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon has called on the ACCC to block imports of dangerous chemicals in clothing following the recall. The senator also called for an urgent audit of garment and bedding imports, saying, “It’s astonishing that there appear to be no laws or rules in place to restrict the importation of products containing azo dyes.”

The two main routes of consumer exposure are the skin absorption of the azo compounds from the dyed clothes worn, and potential oral ingestion, mainly referring to the sucking of textiles by babies and young children. The manufacturing workers can also be exposed via the inhalation route. Think of microscopic particles of fabric that abrade each time we use a towel, sit on a sofa, put on our clothes.  These microscopic particles fly into the air and then we breathe them in or ingest them.  Or they fall into the dust of our homes, where people and pets, especially crawling children and pets, continue to breathe or ingest them.

The current European Union legislation (called EU REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) now requires all TCF brands and retailers selling into the EU market to manage more than 300,000 harmful substances in their products. This program also sets maximum limits for TCF products that come into contact with human skin.

In the United States, often the standards for exposure to these toxins is limited to workplace standards (based on limits in water or air) or they’re product specific: the FDA sets a maximum limit of cadmium in bottled water to be 0.005 mg/L for example.  That leaves lots of avenues for continued contamination.

The textile industry is a complex and highly fragmented industry and it’s up to consumers to demand companies change their policies.  In the United States, we’re waking up to the dangers of industrial chemicals, but rather than banning a certain chemical in all products, the United States is taking a piece meal approach:  for example, certain azo dyes (like Red 2G) are prohibited in foods – but only in foods, not fabrics.  But just because the product is not meant to be eaten doesn’t mean we’re not absorbing that Red 2G.  Phthalates are outlawed in California and Washington state in children’s toys – but not in their clothing or bedding.

Concerns continue to mount about the safety of textiles and apparel products used by U.S. consumers.  As reports of potential health threats continue to come to light, “we are quite concerned about potentially toxic materials that U.S. consumers are exposed to everyday in textiles and apparel available in this country,” said David Brookstein, Sc.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Textile and director of Philadelphia University’s Institute for Textile and Apparel Product Safety (ITAPS).

Intense industrial development has been accompanied by the production of wastewaters of very complex content, which pose a serious hazard to the environment, put at risk sustainable development, and call for new treatment technologies that would more effectively address the issue. One challenge in terms of science and technology is how to biodegrade xenobiotics such as azo dyes, which practically do not degrade under natural environmental conditions. These compounds tend to bioaccumulate in the environment, and have allergenic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic properties for humans.

Textile and clothing industry uses massive variety of dyes, generally fall into a few major categories of dye types.

  • Conventional Dyes – synthetic, chemical-based dyes used in most conventional clothing today.
  • Low-Impact Dyes – synthetic, chemical-based dyes designed to give the same color palette as conventional dyes without the use of certain chemical and metal compounds.
  • Natural Dyes – dyes made from herbs, fruits, teas, clays or other natural materials. These have limited color options and not commonly used.

Many organic clothing manufacturers use low-impact dyes, which can also be referred to as azo-free or fiber-reactive dyes. This is a category of synthetic, chemical-based dyes that are substantially better for skin and for the environment than conventional dyes.

  • They have higher absorption rates into the clothing (greater than 70%), which means less chemical and grey water runoff into the environment.
  • They don’t include azo-dyes, a family of dye groups that contain toxic compounds ranging from chlorine bleach to known carcinogens such as aryl amines.
  • They don’t contain heavy metals.

Still, while low-impact dyes are better for the environment than conventional dyes, they aren’t specifically good for the environment. Many people with multiple chemical sensitivities have reactions to low-impact dyes albeit less severe than to conventional dyes.

Going one small step further, some textiles are Oeko-Tek or Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certified. These certifications don’t focus solely on the dye, but are end-to-end process and final textile safety certifications. The dyes used in the final fabric must be at least as good as low-impact dyes and are specifically tested for skin-safety. GOTS in particular is becoming more and more widely used here in the USA.

To save your skin from toxic chemicals, look for fabrics that have been produced without resorting to these hazardous chemicals.  Look for GOTS  symbol on clothes packaging you buy. 

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. GOTS aim is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Textile processors and manufacturers are enabled to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all major markets.

Wear safe, wear organic!

References:
https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/tag/azo-dyes/
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/detox/fashion/about/eleven-flagship-hazardous-chemicals/
https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/everyday-shopping/clothing/articles/chemicals-in-clothing
Image courtesy:  http://www.newsweek.com/2015/08/21/environmental-crisis-your-closet-362409.html

 

Sell, Swish or Swap


“I love to simplify and edit the contents of just about anything, but women’s closets hold particular appeal to me. I edit mine about four times a year and hold a yearly ‘clothing swap’ to encourage my girlfriends to do the same” – Autumn Reeser


Sell, Swish or Swap

clothing swap

Swapping is the new shopping. A clothing swap is a meet where group of people gather to exchange there no longer used clothing, accessory and the like, for clothing and other items they will use. Clothing swap is a great way to declutter your closet by giving clothes for free to other participants at the swap meet and bringing in there used clothes.

Every piece of new clothing, if not made sustainably, can be the product of countless chemicals, dyes, and the like, all of which can be harmful to the earth, air, groundwater – as well as the people making the clothing and even the people wear it. But clothes are something we all need and want. Clothes swap can be best alternate to buying new.

Futerra, a swishing website, gets up to 10,000 visitors a month globally, and in the UK 7,000 women swap 25,000 items a year.  In an article published in The Guardian claims, clothes swapping parties have spread worldwide since they were first given “a glam facelift” and a brand six years ago by Lucy Shea, CEO of Futerra, who christened the swaps “swishing” – the noise of rustling clothes from your friends – and set up a website to help people put the parties on.

In the past few weeks she has had requests for swishing party advice packs from women in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sydney and Paris. The swishing website gets up to 10,000 visits a month from around the world.

swap toll u drop

Swapaholics suggest below tips for clothes swapping:

  • Save the Date & Send Invitations
    Propose a few dates to your friends on Facebookor Twitter then pick the day and time that work best for the majority. Once you have a day and time in mind, create a free online invitation & event registration page through Facebook. Encourage your friends to to spread the word and invite their friends.
  • Picking the Perfect Swappers
    The bigger & more diverse your group, the greater the clothes selection and the better the chances are that there will be something for everyone and everyone will go home happy. Make sure to specify how much and which kinds of stuff you expect your guests to bring to the swap, and be clear & concise about how the swap will work. Pick your rules: the most popular are a one-for-one exchange, a fundraiser, or a free-for-all.
  • How to Shop Your Closet
    If you haven’t worn it in a year, then chances are you’re not going to, and for good reason: it might be too tight, too big, too unflattering, or just not your style. Only keep clothes that you love and that make you feel beautiful. Let someone else love the things that are just taking up space. Bring the best of the best to the swap — the things you know someone else might get excited about — and send the rest straight to Goodwill.
  • Create a Theme for Your Swap
    The best swaps aren’t just about the act of swapping, they’re about connecting with your friends and meeting new ones through a good old fashioned girl’s night in. Have a book swap with your book club, have a wine & cheese party with your foodie friends, a clothing swap with Champagne & cupcakes for your fashionable friends.
  • Setting up your Swap Boutique
    It’s important to make your swap feel like a classy shopping experience, not a rummage sale. Make signs to organize swap donations by type, set up racks or bins for organizing swappables, and designate a dressing room if you’re swapping clothes.
  • Designate a Charity for Donations
    If there is any clothing left over at the end of the clothing swap, call Goodwilland arrange a pick-up, or recruit a volunteer from among your swappers to bring them to the donation center at the end of the swap.

Best part of clothing swap: it’s free. Why not dress yourself for free and do your share to save the world. How? Below are the 10 big benefits of clothing swap:

  1. Declutters your closet.
  2. Refill your closet without buying new clothes
  3. Reuse helps reduce waste by not sending clothes to landfills. Americans throw 68 pounds of clothing and textiles each year and 900,000 tons in the UK each year.
  4. Not buying new clothes helps to save important natural resources like water. It takes 10,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of cotton.
  5. Hand me down clothing also means less pesticides, fertilizers, greenhouse energy, dyes, chemicals and less pollution.
  6. By swapping clothes you saved a ton of packaging like bags, boxes etc.
  7. Clothing swap is an act of environmentalism.
  8. Clothing swap party is fun, fashion and philanthropy at the same time. Gather your friends, relax, mingle, socialize, eat, drink and swap.
  9. Clothing swap can help people in need. Spread the world and invite people who might need clothes. People who changed their size can benefit too. Bring something, take something.
  10. It’s free.

 Need more tips for clothing swap. Read here.

Collaborative Consumption states “Together, entire communities and cities around the world are using network technologies to do more with less by renting, lending, swapping, bartering, gifting and sharing products on a scale never before possible. From Airbnb to Zipcar to Taskrabbit,  collaborative consumption is transforming business, consumerism and the way we live for a more fulfilling and sustainable quality of life.

Instead of overdressing our closet lets be kind to our planet, let’s go green. Fast and cheap fashion encourages us for wear-once-and dump fashion culture. Instead, let’s get involved in a more sustainable future for fashion. Isn’t it a small but significant way to say thanks to our green planet?

Fashion; fashion cautiously.

Note: We do not endorse, belong or represent any company or product mentioned in this article. Links provided are for informational basis only.

Resources:

http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com/

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/why-shop-when-you-can-swap/blog/49005/

image credits http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/ and http://www.highcountryucc.org/, https://blogs.chapman.edu

Who Made Your Clothes?


“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness” –  Mahatma Gandhi


who

April 24, 2016 was third year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a tragic event that claimed more than 1,100 lives and injured hundreds more. I have lived in Bangladesh for 6 years and worked and dealt with garment workers in various factories. The hard work they put in day and night to manufacture garments shipping all over the world is beyond what we can imagine. My heart goes out to the families of those died, injured and those whose families are affected by this tragic event.

Garment workers struggle infinitely to help sew clothes and make shipments on time while at the same time toil hard to make both ends meet in Bangladesh’s rapidly increasing living cost.

I have seen and experienced it firsthand. Garment workers are very hard working community in Bangladesh and deserves much better.

Since garment sewing and finishing is last end of the long chain of clothing manufacturing, usually all delays due to various reasons accumulate and end up on the garment factories. Garment workers are then held responsible to make shipments in a short period of time and they toil day and night to meet the deadlines to save factory from penalties that might be caused due to delayed shipments.

Although the orders are run by production plans but unforeseen production problems cause delays. Delay in arrival of yarn, weaving or knitting factory delays, dyeing & finishing delays puts pressure on garment sewing factory. To offset all those delays, garment workers work under extreme pressure to make shipments on time.

Duty-free access to western markets and low wages for workers have helped turn Bangladesh’s garment exports into a $28bn-a-year industry that is the economic lifeblood of the country of 160m people.

The minimum monthly wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $68, compared with about $280 in mainland China, which remains the world’s biggest clothes exporter.

A statement issued by European Union on the third anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy states “The active engagement of the EU, Bangladesh and other concerned partners has brought tangible progress on the ground. A number of labor rights are better protected in Bangladesh today than they were two years ago. The building and workplace safety have also improved. The Bangladesh Sustainability Compact opened a dialogue and supported exchanges with stakeholders, including trade unions, employers, buyers and NGOs in the EU, as well as in Bangladesh”.

In reaction to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, the Government of Bangladesh, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the European Union and the United States launched a joint initiative known as the “Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labor Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”. Given its involvement in the same supply chains and its own efforts to promote sustainable sourcing, Canada decided to join the initiative as of 2016.

The Compact outlines concrete commitments in respect of labor rights, in particular freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, as well as structural integrity of factory buildings, occupational safety and health, and promotion of responsible business conduct.

The Rana Plaza tragedy was not caused by an earthquake or a terrorist attack, but rather by poor construction and a lack of oversight and in some ways, by a growing global desire for more cheap fashion.

Now as a consumer it makes us feel sad and appalling knowing the hard working people dyed due to no fault of theirs while making clothes for us. Can we do something about it?

Yes, we can.

Fashion Revolution, a movement born out of Rana Plaza tragedy is working with a mission that states “We believe in fashion -an industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens. Based in U.K. and not for profit organization, Fashion Revolution further states “On 24th April (the day Rana Plaza tragedy occurred) each year, Fashion Revolution will bring everyone in the fashion value chain together and help to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible, and celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future. As a global movement uniting around an annual campaign, over the next 5 years we believe we will build considerable momentum and achieve incredible impact together. We recognize that, in many cases, Fashion Revolution will bring together organizations and people that, outside of Fashion Revolution, remain competitors”.

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Fashion Revolution suggests to ask the brand #whomademyclothes? American Apparel and Zara are among more than 1,000 fashion brands and retailers that responded to Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes? challenge.

During Fashion Revolution Week (April 18 to 24) over 70,000 fashion lovers around the world asked brands #whomademyclothes? Of the 1,000 companies that responded with #imadeyourclothes, 300 are global fashion brands.

Orsola de Castro, director of Fashion Revolution said: “We believe that asking who made my clothes is a powerful question. It makes you think about your clothes in a different way. It pushes companies to consider the people working in their supply chains. When we hear from farmers, producers, factory workers and makers saying I made your clothes, it’s equally as powerful. It gives the world a chance to recognize and celebrate their hard work and skills.”

In 2016, more than 92 countries around the world, tens of thousands of people took part in Fashion Revolution Week. Brands were asked #whomademyclothes to show that people care and demand better for the people who make our clothes.

Next year, Fashion Revolution Week 2017, April 24th to 30th (Rana Plaza tragedy week), Fashion Revolution targets more brands to show who made our clothes. We want to thank the makers. We want clothes that we will be proud to wear.

Join the movement. See here

Resources:

http://fashionrevolution.org/

Image credit: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/fashionrevolution-time-to-trace-fashion-by-asking-who-made-my-clothes/2015042416222

Image credit: http://fashionrevolution.org/

 

 

Waste Couture: Environment Impact of Clothing Industry


Buy less, choose well, make it last. -Vivienne Westwood


Major part of this article is reproduced with permission from “ehp” Environmental Health Prospectives, published on The National Center for Biotechnology Information website Sept 2007, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/, and “PMC”- US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. The publication is about 9 years old but the information is as relevant today, as it was then)

Waste Couture: Environment Impact of Clothing Industry

On a Saturday afternoon, a group of teenage girls leaf through glossy fashion magazines at a New Jersey outlet mall. Shopping bags brimming with new purchases lay at their feet as they talk excitedly about what’s in style to wear this summer. Far away in Tanzania, a young man proudly wears a T-shirt imprinted with the logo of an American basketball team while shopping at the local mitumba market for pants that will fit his slender figure. Although seemingly disparate, these two scenes are connected through the surprising life cycle of clothing.

How does a T-shirt originally sold in a U.S. shopping mall to promote an American sports team end up being worn by an African teen? Globalization, consumerism, and recycling all converge to connect these scenes. Globalization has made it possible to produce clothing at increasingly lower prices, prices so low that many consumers consider this clothing to be disposable. Some call it “fast fashion,” the clothing equivalent of fast food.

Fast fashion provides the marketplace with affordable apparel aimed mostly at young women. Fueling the demand are fashion magazines that help create the desire for new “must-haves” for each season. “Girls especially are insatiable when it comes to fashion. They have to have the latest thing, always. And since it is cheap, you buy more of it. Our closets are full,” says Mayra Diaz, mother of a 10-year-old girl and a buyer in the fashion district of New York City. Disposable couture appears in shopping mall after shopping mall in America and Europe at prices that make the purchase tempting and the disposal painless.

Yet fast fashion leaves a pollution footprint, with each step of the clothing life cycle generating potential environmental and occupational hazards. For example, polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum. With the rise in production in the fashion industry, demand for man-made fibers, especially polyester, has nearly doubled in the last 25 years, according to figures from the Technical Textile Markets. The manufacture of polyester and other synthetic fabrics is an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil and releasing emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease.

Issues of environmental health and safety do not apply only to the production of man-made fabrics. Cotton, one of the most popular and versatile fibers used in clothing manufacture, also has a significant environmental footprint. This crop accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States, the largest exporter of cotton in the world, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The U.S. cotton crop benefits from subsidies that keep prices low and production high. The high production of cotton at subsidized low prices is one of the first spokes in the wheel that drives the globalization of fashion.

Much of the cotton produced in the United States is exported to China and other countries with low labor costs, where the material is milled, woven into fabrics, cut, and assembled according to the fashion industry’s specifications. China has emerged as the largest exporter of fast fashion, accounting for 30% of world apparel exports, according to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics database. In her 2005 book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, Pietra Rivoli, a professor of international business at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University, writes that each year Americans purchase approximately 1 billion garments made in China, the equivalent of four pieces of clothing for every U.S. citizen.

Industrialization brought consumerism with it as an integral part of the economy. Economic growth came to depend on continued marketing of new products and disposal of old ones that are thrown away simply because stylistic norms promote their obsolescence. When it comes to clothing, the rate of purchase and disposal has dramatically increased, so the path that a T-shirt travels from the sales floor to the landfill has become shorter.

The journey of a piece of clothing does not always end at the landfill. A portion of clothing purchases are recycled mainly in three ways: clothing may be resold by the primary consumer to other consumers at a lower price, it may be exported in bulk for sale in developing countries, or it may be chemically or mechanically recycled into raw material for the manufacture of other apparel and non-apparel products.

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In 2012, “Shwopping” project by Marks and Spencer displays 10,000  discarded    clothes  encourage recycling & decreasing waste. The cause claims that approximately 10,000 articles of clothing go to landfills every five minutes.

Domestic resale has boomed in the era of the Internet. Many people sell directly to other individuals through auction websites such as eBay. Another increasingly popular outlet is consignment and thrift shops, where sales are growing at a pace of 5% per year, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops.

Only about one-fifth of the clothing donated to charities is directly used or sold in their thrift shops. Says Rivoli, “There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.”

Because women in the West tend to buy much more clothing and discard it more often than men, the world supply of used women’s clothing is at least seven times that of men’s. Thus, in the mitumba markets around Tanzania, men’s clothing generally costs four to five times more than similar women’s clothing. Winter clothes, although generally more expensive to produce, command the least value in the secondhand African markets. Companies such as Trans-America are therefore seeking to expand into colder climes such as Eastern Europe.

Each step of the clothing production process carries the potential for an environmental impact. For example, conventionally grown cotton, one of the most popular clothing fibers, is also one of the most water- and pesticide-dependent crops.

Fierce global competition in the garment industry translates into poor working conditions for many laborers in developing nations.

To make things better, 0ne approach has been to use sustainably grown cotton, hemp, bamboo, and other fiber crops that require less pesticides, irrigation, and other inputs. Organic cotton is grown in at least 12 countries.

When we choose organic cotton instead of conventional cotton, we protect the health of our families and the environment.

Once a rarity, organic cotton is being grown in greater quantities every year. It’s now possible to find equally attractive and durable organic versions of almost every traditional cotton product, from bed sheet to swaddles of cloth diapers to blue jeans.

Look for these organic options online. You may also be able to find clothing made from eco-friendlier sustainably grown cotton which will contain less residues than conventional cotton but not as little as organic.

Image courtesy: http://www.recyclinginternational.com/recycling-news

Nature Heals


“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books”. John Lubbock


Nature Heals

nature

                             Image courtesy : rawforbeauty.com

Nature is a natural healer. Nature is nonjudgmental. It does not care if you are rich or poor, young or old. If you follow natural laws, you will be imbued with life. Nature suggest to eat natural, live natural and wear natural. If we try to ignore these natural laws, we are heading towards problems.

If we try to eat unhealthy fast food and expect to stay healthy, we can not.

Fast food might taste good to many, but guess what, that taste is for few seconds until that food is rolling onto your tongue. Once that food reaches inside your belly, it has no taste. Then the real magic starts. That food when broken into parts, can either help us or harm us. Most of the fast food harms, in many ways. Natural food cures. Everyone know that. But still we eat bad food.

Similar is with synthetic fiber versus natural fiber clothes. Synthetic fibers origin is in lab. Natural fiber is given to us by nature. They do not harm. If you want to stay healthy then look at nature. Eat and wear what nature suggests. Nature will keep us safe. Organic will keep us healthy.

Synthetic fiber came to play because they are cheaper and faster to produce, than natural fiber. Unlike natural fibers harvested by farmers, commonly used synthetic fibers are mass produced from petrochemicals to uniform strengths, lengths and colors, easily customized to specific applications. Synthetic fiber started displacing natural fiber and crowded natural fiber out of market place. That is one the reasons why United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2009 to be the International Year of Natural Fibers.

Let’s discuss natural fiber today. Natural fibers are greatly elongated substances produced by plants and animals that can be spun into filaments, thread or rope. Woven, knitted, matted or bonded, they form fabrics that are essential to society.

Below are listed 15 of world’s major plant and animal fibers. They range from cotton, which dominates world fiber production, to other, specialty fibers such as cashmere which, though produced in far smaller quantities, have particular properties that place them in the luxury textiles market.

Plant fibers: include seed hairs, such as cotton; stem fibers such as flax and hemp. Leaf fibers such as sisal and husk fibers such as coconut.

Animal fibers: include wool, hair and secretions, such as silk.

Plant fibers:

Abaca- Once a favored source of rope, abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibers in automobiles

Coir: A coarse, short fiber extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, coir is found in ropes, mattresses, brushes, geotextiles and automobile seats.

Cotton: Pure cellulose, cotton is the world’s most widely used natural fiber and still the undisputed “king” of the global textiles industry.

Flax: -One of nature’s strongest vegetable fibers, flax was also one of the first to be harvested, spun and woven into textiles.

Hemp -Recent advances in the “cottonization” of hemp fiber could open the door to the high quality clothing market.

Jute -The strong threads made from jute fibers are used worldwide in sackcloth – and help sustain the livelihoods of millions of small farmers.

Ramie – Ramie fiber is white, with a silky luster, and is one of the strongest natural fibers, similar to flax in absorbency and density.

Sisal -Too coarse for clothing, sisal is replacing glass fibers in composite materials used to make cars and furniture

Animal Fibers:

Alpaca wool -Alpaca is used to make high-end luxury fabrics, with world production estimated at around 5000 tons a year.

Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear.

Camel hair -The best fiber is found on the Bactrian camels of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, and baby camel hair is the finest and softest.

Cashmere -Cashmere is exceptionally soft to the touch owing to the structure of its fibers and has great insulation properties without being bulky.

Mohair -White, very fine and silky, mohair is noted for its softness, brightness and receptiveness to rich dyes.

Silk -Developed in ancient China, where its use was reserved for royalty, silk remains the “queen of fabrics”.

Wool – Limited supply and exceptional characteristics have made wool the world’s premier textile fiber

Above list considers most of the commonly used natural fibers. Sometimes industry adds various finishes on clothes made from natural fibers, by quoting them with chemicals. My recommendation is to avoid those clothes. Toxic chemicals are involved in the finishes that make wrinkle resistant or fire retardant clothes. Read my article on how to read a label.

These fibers are given to us by nature to wear. Wear them. They might cost more than synthetic. Buy less, buy natural. Fast fashion tempts us to buy more. Fast fashion attracts. But fast fashion brings lot of synthetics with it. Be care full and aware.

If an organic apple a day keeps the doctor away, then an organic cotton t-shirt a day keeps the dermatologist away. Both are natural.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs but not every man’s greed” – Mahatma Gandhi

Nature protects our wellbeing.

Being in nature, or even viewing nature scenery, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

Nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.

Eat natural, wear natural and be natural.

References:

  • http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/fibres/
  • http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing
  • Image courtesy; http://www.violette.ca/nature-heals-the-weary-soul-cartoon/ 

Are You Wearing GMO?


“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them”. – Albert Einstein


Are you eating and wearing GMO?

Biotechnology uses living organisms or parts of these organisms. Modern medicine, agriculture, and industry make use of biotechnology on a large scale.

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are organisms such as bacteria, fish, insects, mammals, plants and yeast whose genetic makeup has been altered through genetic engineering procedures. Merging DNA from different species, creates unconventional animals, bacteria and plants that are not naturally found in customary crossbreeding or even in nature.

FDA is responsible for regulating the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops that are eaten by humans or animals. According to a policy established in 1992, FDA considers most GM crops as “substantially equivalent” to non-GM crops. 

In 1997, FDA established a voluntary consultation process with GM crop developers to review the determination of “substantial equivalence” before the crop is marketed, such as assessing the toxicity and allergenicity of the gene product and the plant itself. If the data in the food-safety assessment are satisfactory, FDA notifies the developer that marketing of the crop may proceed.

Critics have raised questions about whether this voluntary consultation process provides adequate assurance that GM crops are safe. 

In the United States alone, GMOs make up about 70-80% of the foods we consume.

Advocates of biotechnology affirm that the application of genetic engineering to develop transgenic crops will increase world agricultural productivity, enhance food security, and move agriculture away from a dependence on chemical inputs helping to reduce environmental problems. This belief has been challenged by many scientific studies. One such study is conducted by Miguel A. Altieri and Peter Rosset (University of California, Berkeley & Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy) and in their paper published in AgBioForum (a journal of Agro biotechnology Management and Economics) challenges such assertions by first demystifying the Malthusian view that hunger is due to a gap between food production and human population growth. Through there study they expose the fact that current bio-engineered crops are not designed to increase yields or for poor small farmers, so that they may not benefit from them. In addition, transgenic crops pose serious environmental risks, continuously underplayed by the biotechnology industry. They suggested that there are many other agro-ecological alternatives that can solve the agricultural problems that biotechnology aims at solving, but in a much more socially equitable manner and in a more environmentally harmonious way.

Most innovations in agricultural biotechnology have been profit-driven rather than need-driven. The real thrust of the genetic engineering industry is not to make third world agriculture more productive, but rather to generate profits (Busch et al., l990).

The big four Soy, maize, cotton, and rapeseed account for almost all commercial GMO production. GM plants are grown mainly in North and South America, but increasingly also in India, China and South Africa.

In the USA the farmers are still committed to green gene technology. For soy and sugar beet, in 2013 genetically modified varieties represented over 90% of the total; for maize and cotton it was exactly 90%.

Below is global cultivation area of GMO cotton:

GMO cotton

                Acreage of cotton in million hectares

US based company Monsanto, has 23% of global proprietary seed market share. India is 2nd largest cotton grower in the world, after China. Almost 90% of all the cotton grown in India is now Monsanto’s Bt cotton (10.6 million hectares in 2011).

There is a good chance that the cotton t-shirt you are wearing is made from GM cotton.

In a report published in Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (cban- a collaborative campaign for food sovereignty and environmental justice) states, Monsanto promised Indian farmers that Bt cotton would (a) reduce the amount of pesticides farmers need to buy to control pests (b) increase harvests and farm income by reducing crop losses due to pest attacks.

Their study exposes that farmers saw some changes in first couple of years but in the long run below is the findings of their report:

  1. Bt cotton yields declined
  2. Secondary pests emerged, forcing increased pesticide use
  3. The price of cotton seed rose
  4. Farmers lost the option to buy non-GM cotton seed

Farmers across several districts of the cotton growing areas of India have reported that their livestock fell sick or died after grazing on plant debris from cleared Bt cotton fields. A report compiled by research-based groups, veterinary scientists and local farmers’ associations showed that a total of 1820 sheep died in 4 villages in one region, after grazing in Bt cotton fields.

protest-827936_1280

In United States, in 2011, an estimated 75% of cotton in the U.S. was insect resistant (Bt) and 96% was herbicide tolerant. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that herbicide use on cotton has risen from 2.1 kilograms a hectare in 1996, to 3.0 kilograms a hectare in 2010. Visit cban’s page in the reference below to see dozens of other resources working on cotton GMO issue.

Now how does this affect a normal cotton cloth wearer? First of all, consumer won’t know the clothes they are wearing is GMO or non-GMO because the labels don’t say that, unless it is made from organic cotton. Organic Cotton is always non-GMO.

A report published in The Telegraph, UK, on Oct 8th 2012, states that three quarters of the cotton clothes bought in Britain today are made from GMO crops, including items available in major High Street stores.

The studies have already proved now that the assumption about GMO cotton using fewer pesticides is not true.

Amy Leech, Soil Association research assistant in UK, explained that GM cotton can use dangerous pesticides and gives farmers little control over their own crop. She claimed that organic cotton uses less water and is a better deal for farmers. “Growing cotton is a toxic business; it uses a lot of pesticides – putting in peril the lives of women, men and children in cotton farming communities. 77 million cotton workers suffer poisonings from pesticides each year.”

The Organic Cotton Initiative is urging consumers to choose organic for environmental reasons. Organic and fairtrade cotton does not use GM.

Conventional cotton farming is one of the most environmentally destructive agricultural practices—harming the air, water, soil, and farmers’ health and safety. 

Organic farming is healthier and safer for farmers, fieldworkers, and nearby communities. Growing cotton organically also benefits small-scale farmers who don’t have the means to buy expensive pesticides. Organic cotton farming uses significantly less water and electric power than conventional cotton farming techniques.

Organic benefits everyone and it has so many long-term benefits. It sustains the whole world.

Resources:

http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-On-the-Market/Cotton/Genetically-Modified-Cotton-CBAN-Factsheet

Use It Up – Wear It Out – Make It Do!


Nature’s systems do not generate waste. When will we learn that there is no away? We say we’ll throw it away, but away doesn’t exist. That’s why nature is full of loops and cycles – Joel Salatin, Folks, this ain’t normal, 2011


Donate Your Clothes For A Better World

AN AMERICAN ANNUAL WASTE SAMPLER

7 million tons of carpet sent to landfills—all of it could be recycled, but mostly it’s not

  • 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts (Styrofoam) dumped—never degrades, impossible to recycle
  • 35 billion plastic bottles
  • 40 billion plastic knives, forks and spoons
  • 5 million tons of office paper
  • Enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet four times over
  • Enough steel to level and restore Manhattan
  • Enough wood to heat 50 million homes for twenty years
  • Enough plastic wrap to shrink-wrap Texas
  • Plastic waste is so plentiful and so carelessly treated that 92 percent of Americans have potentially harmful plastic chemicals in their urine
  • 10 percent of the world oil supply is used to make and transport disposable plastics
  • Growing, shipping, and selling food destined to be thrown away uses more energy than is currently produced by offshore oil drilling
  • No less than 28 billion pounds of food thrown away, about 25 percent of the American food supply, perhaps more by some estimates

Information courtesy: Edward Humes, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, 2012

“Savers”, global thrift retailer, has been diverting reusable clothing and household goods from landfills for more than 60 years. Savers commissioned the “State of Reuse Report” after learning that the average U.S. citizen will throw away 81 pounds of clothing this year alone – 95 percent of which can be reused or recycled. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, reusing goods is better for the environment as it reduces the need for additional resources to make new products.

“People are unaware of the amount of clothing they throw away because, in general, they don’t fully understand how much they are consuming and the amount of natural resources that go into making new clothing,” Tony Shumpert, Savers vice president of recycling and reuse,

Here is the report:

reuse_report-infographic-s_1

Report says that one challenge to getting people donates clothes is that they are not sure whether a clothing item can be donated or not. The standards of accepting used clothes varies in the thrift industry as some stores don’t accept clothes that are not in a perfect condition.

One in three people reported not knowing whether more than 90 percent of textiles could be reused or recycled, and 17 percent believed they could not be. Nine percent of those who do not donate noted that it is because they are not sure how or where to donate goods. The misinformation and perception about what can and cannot be donated is, perhaps, adding to the 26 billion pounds of textiles people send to landfills each year. People need to know that 95 percent of their unwanted or unneeded clothing and textiles can be reused or recycled.

The survey also highlighted an important emotional and perceptual upside to donating that could help to foster greater adoption of reuse. When people were asked how they feel after removing unwanted items from their home, results were strong for “accomplished” (49 percent), “productive” (45 percent), “refreshed” (29 percent), and “happy” (27 percent). When respondents were asked how they would describe people who regularly donate used goods, responses included high marks for “thoughtful” (68 percent), “generous” (67 percent) and “environmentally conscious” (49 percent). Not surprisingly, people perceive donating is a good thing, and it reflects well on those who do it. That being said, campaigns to increase the rate of donations could capitalize on this “feel good, look good” aspect of donating, in which everyone gains.  This adds further evidence indicating the need to continue to educate people on how participating in the reuse cycle is beneficial for them, their families and communities. The fact that people already perceive donating as a good thing, and that it reflects well on those who do it, is likely to quicken the pace of adoption.

When people extend the useful life of their stuff by donating used items to nonprofits or buying used goods at secondhand stores, they are contributing to the circular economy and helping to reduce solid waste in landfills, pollution and the use of precious water and energy resources. This is an important goal and one that raises the question of how we can bring more people into this virtuous cycle.

Goodwill

Benefits of Reducing and Reusing

  • Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials
  • Saves energy
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations
  • Saves money
  • Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you’ll be helping others. Local churches, community centers, thrift stores, schools and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, working electronics and unneeded furniture.

Benefits of Donation

  • Prevents usable goods from going into landfills
  • Helps your community and those in need
  • Tax benefits may be available

 References:

What Goes On The Skin Goes In The Skin

 


Love The Skin You Are In


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Lets learn about Clothing Dermatitis

DermNet New Zealand, a New Zealand based trust presents facts about the skin for consumers and professionals on their website DermNetNZ.org. DermNet presents authoritative facts about the skin for consumers and health professionals in New Zealand and throughout the world.  DermNet covers hundreds of illustrated topics about skin diseases and conditions, dermatopathology, treatments and procedures. Trustees are renowned dermatologists.

DermNet throws light on “Textile Contact Dermatitis” and explains that textile fiber can be natural, synthetic or a combination of the two materials. Natural fibers include silk, wood, cotton and linen. Synthetic or man-made fibers include rayon, nylon, polyester, rubber, fiberglass and spandex.

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin induced by chemicals that directly damage the skin and by specific sensitivity in the case of allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergic skin reactions to clothing is most often a result of the formaldehyde finishing resins, dyes, glues, chemical additives and tanning agents used in processing the fabric or clothing. Cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been reported for the following fabric additives.

  • Formaldehyde resins used in fabrics to make them wrinkle-resistant
  • Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) used in textile and fur dyes
  • Azo and anthraquinone based dispersal dyes. These dyes are loosely bound to the fabric structure and can easily rub off onto the skin. They are rarely used in textiles nowadays
  • Flame retardants

Other contact allergens that may be incorporated into the fabric of clothing and cause contact dermatitis include chrome, cobalt, latex and rubber accelerators.

Metallic fasteners and elastic in clothing can also cause contact dermatitis where they are in contact with skin. Metallic stud fasteners on blue jeans are a common cause of nickel dermatitis.

This is a very important information for sensitive skin people. DermNet website has various pictures of actual ailments (rashes, skin marks) they treated for various patients. I think that in an incredible information and work they are doing. Run by professional and renowned dermatologist, DermNet is a real example and informational source for us to learn and avoid chemicals in textiles. They mention the names of many chemicals proven to cause various skin ailments.

The website also states that these skin problems are more prevalent in women than men since women wear more “colorful” and fitted clothes. The allergies can happen within hours or till many days later.

They inform that the condition can worsen if the 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”.

To avoid this problem, DermNet suggest to wear natural fiber made clothes, wear loose clothes when working in hot and humid places, wear light color clothes and not to wear “non-iron” and “dirt repellent” clothes as they are coated with chemicals.

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries inform in a report that clothing can be a cause of occupational dermatitis. The source of dermatitis can be the fabric itself, chemical additives used in processing the fabric and hardware and fasteners. The physical or occlusive effect of clothing can result in dermatitis. Contaminated clothing from workplace chemicals, friction from clothing rubbing the skin, or heat retention from perspiration.

Textile formaldehyde resins are used in materials such as cotton or cotton/polyester blend fabrics to make the fabric wrinkle-resistant.

Allergic reactions to the dyes used in fabrics are more common than a reaction to the fabric material that has been dyed. Most reported allergic reactions have been to dispersal dyes with azo and anthraquinone structures. These dyes are loosely held on the fabric structure and easily rubbed off on the skin.

Prickly heat rash, miliaria rubra, develops when workers are not acclimated to hot environments. Fabrics that do not breathe, such as synthetic fabrics, or tight 3 protective clothing, can become soaked with perspiration.

Health Canada, a Canadian Federal department organization responsible for helping people maintain and improve their health throws light on sensitizers. They state “Sensitizers are materials that can cause severe skin and/or respiratory responses in a sensitized worker after exposure to a very small amount of the material. Sensitization develops over time. When a worker is first exposed to a sensitizer, there may be no obvious reaction. However, future exposures can lead to increasingly severe reactions in sensitized workers”.

Below are fabrics known to be sensitizers:

Silk is rarely a sensitizer.

Polyesters – Plastic or synthetic fibers as acrylic, orlon, polyvinyl resins or spandex are used in diapers, socks and girdles. The irritant may be due to mercaptobenzothiazole causing contact dermatitis, cause from the material itself, the dye or due to the finish of the fabric.

Spandex-This is a non-rubber, stretchable, polyurethane fiber which is used in various fabrics for stretch like women’s leggings, clothing for sports, socks, brassieres, and girdles. The sensitizer in these fabrics is mercaptobenzothiazole.

Formaldehyde-Formaldehyde and its resins are used in the preparation of fabrics, facial tissues, toilet papers and in certain types of clothes to make them wrinkle free.

Paraphenylene diamine is used in fur manufacture. This may act as a sensitizer.

Remnants of bar soaps or powdered soaps on washed clothing is an important cause of dermatitis especially the underwear.

Fabric may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about living a healthier lifestyle, but it definitely should be considered. Even many health conscious people don’t realize that synthetic fabrics are teaming with chemicals and dyes that cannot be washed out, making them a potential health hazard.

There are various studies and sources available for Clothing Dermatitis.

Be safe, wear safe.

References:

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