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The Environmental And Human Impacts Of Conventional Dyeing

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 week ago | Features

Image: River Pollution in West Java. Industrial wastewater containing hazardous chemicals discharged into the Cihaur River. Image source.

 

The way our clothes are dyed has a significant impact on both people and the planet. Conventional azo dyes, for example. contain nasty toxins such as formaldehyde and other known carcinogens.

The Swedish Chemical Agency has found approximately 240 textile-related chemicals which pose a serious potential risk to human life, reports show. And about 120 which pose a serious risk to the environment. These chemicals often find their way into waterways, where the toxic runoff can be harmful to the health of marine life, animals, and humans relying on those sources for drinking water.

Many of these substances with hazardous properties have been found to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction, but are still commonly found in finished clothing from many well-respected companies. Which is why Greenpeace has asked brands to take the Detox Pledge.

Although harmful azo dyes are fortunately now banned in Australia, our regulations aren't as strict as some other nations when it comes to the way that imported products are dyed. Seven News reports, for example, that we should be wary when it comes to imported products, to ensure there aren’t toxic chemicals present in our clothes.

It is for this reason that we define ‘sustainable’ brands as those with at least 80% of their products made using sustainable materials and processes. Our Sustainability Value includes brands that use low impact dyes such as plant dyes – which are much kinder to humans and the environment.

Patagonia, for instance, has used everything from mulberry leaves and pomegranate to dye their clothes. And Nico’s leisurewear collection is also fairly-made from plant-dyed certified organic cotton. Their psychedelic tie-dyed pieces actually gain their colour from plants like wedelia flowers.

Low impact dyes like plant-based dyes offer a natural alternative to conventional dyes that are not synthetic, do not contain toxic chemicals and are, therefore, much safer for both people and the planet. So if you’re looking to help avoid the use of harmful conventional dyes, shop sustainable brands using low impact plant-based dyes instead.

 

 

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