“Toxic Textiles”: chemical use in fast fashion

Green America, an environmental organization, conducted a report exploring environmental initiatives in leading clothing stores. The report looked at 14 major apparel companies to see if they were addressing issues like chemical use and waste from clothing production.

(+) means a company has a policy/goal, and metrics/plans in place; (/) means a company says it has a policy but doesn’t go into details; blank means a company does not talk about this policy. For chemicals, (•) means a company has an RSL but does not have an MRS; read full report for more details – greenamerica.org

One of the features they checked was chemical management. Directly from their report, which can be found here:

The production of textiles uses an estimated 43 million tons of chemicals every year – and this figure doesn’t even take into account the amount of pesticides used to grow natural resources, such as cotton, annually.

Chemicals are used heavily throughout the production of textiles – the process of turning raw materials into textiles uses over 8,000 different chemicals. The Swedish Chemicals Agency tested 2,400 chemicals and found that about 30% of them were toxic. While some chemicals have been banned/restricted in consuming countries, that chemical may be found in waterways of the manufacturing country, exposing not just workers to these hazardous chemicals, but also the community at large.

Industry-wide, there is a need for more transparency and data about the chemicals that are being used, as well as their effects on health and the environment throughout the life cycle of the textile/garment . . .

Until companies become more transparent about their chemical use, it’s hard to know what you’re truly paying for when you purchase clothing. Green Team’s advice to you is to purchase new clothes only when absolutely necessary – and to use the clothes you already have as long as possible.

For more information and the full report, please visit the article at greenamerica.org.

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