I’ve posted on Facebook before about the pair of jean’s I bought from a well-known store in town.
They were that dark blue denim, a rich deep colour that I loved. I washed them before use (please ALWAYS wash your clothes before you wear them as they are often sprayed with chemicals to help preserve them during shipping), then put them on for the first time.
After a while wearing my new jeans I became aware of a strong chemical smell. It eventually became so disconcerting I took them off.
I washed my jeans again, several times over*, and put them on once more. The chemical smell was still there and I actually reached a point where I was feeling nauseous.
Something wasn’t right with the jeans. I’ve never worn them since, but I have kept them as I’d love to get them tested somehow.
Many months later what should hit the news but a story about toxic azo dyes being used in our clothing – by some of the most well-known brands around. I was appalled, and felt vindicated in my decision to retire my new jeans.
I’ve tried hard to minimise the chemicals in my world, so it’s not okay that carcinogenic toxins are turning up in my clothes. We should be able to wear clothes that aren’t going to harm us. Most people are oblivious to the fact that this is even an issue.
And the worst part is it’s someone’s job to dye my jeans. You can bet there’s no health and safety checks keeping them safe from chemical exposure.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from toxic threads?
The simplest way is to buy organic clothing – and that’s why I’m giving a shout out to my friend Kerry and his organic cotton tees. They’re awesome, soft, thick, and they keep their colour.
Do they cost more? Yeah they do. And here’s what Kerry has to say about that –
“The other day I was contacted by a person looking to get some t-shirts printed. She mentioned that she had purchased some tees from a big name department store for $4.00 each.
Wow, $4.00 is the price of a coffee! And that’s more than just our sewing cost for a t-shirt here in Brisbane.
In order to produce low cost clothing companies manufacture in countries with low levels of regulation and social provision for employees. These companies also benefit from low wages in developing countries.
I once read about a company selling a ski jacket produced for 51p in Bangladesh was sold for £100 in the UK.
While I’m sure most people consider themselves to be ethical, total sales for ethical clothing are less than 1% of the total market. Clearly there is a gap between people’s attitudes and behaviour.”
Kerry’s business is called My Heart Beats Green. He specializes in clothing made from certified organic cotton (certified by Control Union). Even the dyes used on his printed tees are water-based and environmentally friendly.
All his t-shirts are designed and sewn right here in Australia, so you are supporting more than one local business when you buy his shirts. I love buying his organic baby clothes as gifts and I love my purple Eat Pray Yoga shirt!
You can find Kerry most weekends at the Northey Street Market in Brisbane. Make sure you stop by and have a chat, and tell him I sent you!
Did you know?
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates and cancer-causing amines released by certain azo dyes are the worst chemicals used in clothing. Formaldehyde is also used in textiles and clothing, including fabrics, blankets, and clothing finishes designed for permanent press and stain resistance.
- *Washing does not necessarily reduce the concentration of aromatic amines in clothing. The ACCC’s pre-wash and post-wash testing showed that aromatic amines may in fact increase with washing.
- New chemicals are being made all the time. They don’t have to be proven as safe and it takes many years for hard data to be collected to ‘prove’ they are unsafe.
- The only one regulating your chemical exposure is you!
- The best thing you can do is increase your awareness. No need to get overwhelmed, just get savy. Increase your understanding and then you can make better informed choices.
- Most children’s pyjamas are treated with chemical flame retardants that pose a health risk to children.
- READ THIS powerful presentation from Dr Sarah Lantz (it started me on my chemical free journey) – and read her book Chemical Free Kids
- Also read this report Toxic threads: the big fashion stitch up and this book Slow Death by Rubber Duck
- The ACCC has regulatory responsibility for the safety of consumer goods supplied in Australia and manages product recalls like this one Recalls of clothing dyed with hazardous azo colourants
While the number of recalled items of clothing is relatively low in Australia, we have to take a global stand to remove these toxic chemicals from our planet.
Have you had a skin rash due to chemicals in your clothing? Post in the comments – it’s important to get the word out!