Are Clothes Endangering your Environment & Health?

AMUK Healthy Living Blog


Are Your Clothes Endangering the Environment and Your Health?

Author : Hazel Econs
Related Conditions : Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

It is unlikely when you pull an item of clothing from your wardrobe that you would ever think it could be a danger to your health or the environment.  

However, I was staggered to read a report Greenpeace released last week highlighting the dangers of the toxic chemicals contained in clothing.  

Unfortunately, the ruthless global fashion houses prioritise profits over people and the planet.  With the high demand of fashionable clothing, many of big brands are outsourcing production to countries such as China and Mexico where the regulations are not as stringent as in the US and Europe and this allows the suppliers the opportunity to use hazardous chemicals to dye and process our cloths.  Despite many of these toxic chemicals are banned in the US and Europe, sooner or later they end up in the waterways and wardrobes across the world.

20 brands of clothing were tested, including Calvin Klein, Levi's and Zara and every one was shown to have traces of hazardous chemicals in at least one of their clothing items.  Some of the chemicals are incorporated within the fabric, some are residues from the manufacturing process.

The problem is, these chemicals are released into the environment and can breakdown and develop hormone-disrupting and even carcinogenic properties.  The chemicals can seep into the the environment where they are made, affecting the rivers and waterways of the local communities.  Equally when we launder those items of clothing we can inadvertently pollute our local water supplies with those same toxic chemicals.

Greenpeace are campaigning for safer alternatives to be used and some companies, such as M&S and H&M are pioneering green chemistry to try and phase out these harmful substances.

Toxic chemicals are not only harmful to the environment but also to our health.  More and more people are suffering with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) due to the overload of chemicals in our environment which upsets their immune system.  We see patients who are unable to go into a department store because the perfumes and formaldehyde in furnishings makes them feel so ill.

 So although we enjoy the world of fashion, the fast turnaround of clothes and the affordable prices, this comes at a price.  The price is our health, the health of those who handle and manufacture these items and the spread is far and wide through the waterways and the polluted environment.

Action needs to be taken - do you agree?


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