By Juliana Tirone
Did you know 25% of chemicals produced worldwide are used for textiles? Most people worry about what goes into their body, but have you ever thought about what goes on it? Your skin is the largest organ of the human body. So if we take the time to look at where our produce is grown, or to make sure there aren’t any GMOs in the food we feed our children, why don’t we take that type of precaution in our clothing choices?
Creating clothing is more than just creating a design, choosing a color, and selling it in a retail stores. First, agricultural industries must grow the fibers used to make the fabric. Cotton, one of the most popular fabrics, is the most toxic agricultural crop in the world. Cotton crops account for 14% of all agricultural insecticides and 6% of all pesticides. It’s also one of the top genetically modified crops in the world. Polyester and nylon are the most common synthetic fabrics. These are both made from petroleum, which takes 30 to 40 years to decompose. On top of being non-biodegradable, manufacturing nylon releases a greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide.
After the fabrics are grown, or synthetically made, they must be cleaned and treated. Textile manufactures will clean their fabrics before they are shipped off to yet another factory. Instead of throwing them in the wash with a Tide Pod, they use chlorinated solvents. One of the most used solvents includes trichloroethylene, a chemical said to be toxic to neuro-, kidney-, reproductive-, and developmental- systems. These fabrics must also be protected against moths and mold. Chlorophenols, a known pesticide, is used to do just that. Not only is this chemical toxic to multiple organs, but also banned in the European Union.
Finally, the fabric is cut, sewn and dyed to the designer’s liking. The majority of dyes are made from synthetic chemicals. Azo dyes, which are also banned in the EU, because they break down into “aromatic amines” which have been linked to cancer. Other dyes are heavy in metal like lead. If lead paint was banned in 1978, then why is it ok to put lead in our clothing? Don’t even get me started on water, stain and wrinkle resistant clothing. Although I do enjoy a waterproof jacket on those rainy days, it’s not worth all the chemical treatment my jacket went through. I’d also rather iron my pants, or hang them while I’m in the shower to get the wrinkles out instead of having them coated in formaldehyde.
The next time you purchase clothing, be mindful of what it’s made of. Simply Natural Clothing, along with many other brands, chooses to keep chemicals out of our products. Try wearing clothing made from natural fabrics and other organic material. The Earth, and your body, will thank you.