What's Causing This?


While only 2.4 percent of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton, it consumes 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of insecticides.These pesticides are washed out of soils, and pollute rivers and groundwater. Cotton production also contributes to climate change. Industrial fertilizers are produced using considerable quantities of finite energy sources (1.5% of the world’s annual energy consumption), releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the excessive application of nitrates to agricultural land leads to their being transformed into nitrous oxide (laughing gas), a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more destructive than CO 2 in terms of global warming. Conventional cotton production has a series of social and economic risks, especially for small farmers in developing countries. Many small farmers in the South fall ill or die due to a lack of adequate equipment and knowledge about how to handle pesticides properly.


Altogether, more than a half trillion gallons of fresh water are used in the dyeing of textiles each year. The dye wastewater is discharged, often untreated, into nearby rivers, where it reaches the sea, eventually spreading around the globe. China, according to Yale Environment 360, discharges roughly 40 percent of these chemicals. The chemical remains in our clothes after they are produced and only comes out after a few washes. For this reason, the European Union (EU) member states have banned imports of clothing and textiles containing nonylphenol ethoxylates. Almost every industrial dye process involves a solution of a dye in water, in which the fabrics are dipped or washed. After dying a batch of fabric, it’s cheaper to dump the used water – dye effluent – than to clean and re-use the water in the factory.  So dye factories across the world are dumping millions of tons of dye effluent into rivers.


Made from petrochemicals, polyester and nylon are not biodegradable, so they are unsustainable by their very nature. While the manufacturing of both uses great amounts of energy, nylon also emits a large amount of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, during manufacturing. New studies indicate that the fibers in our clothes could be poisoning our waterways and food chain on a massive scale. Microfibers – tiny threads shed from fabric – have been found in abundance on shorelines where waste water is released. researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. It also found that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibers as new jackets. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.


While a majority of the world’s apparel conglomerates are U.S. based, more than 60 percent of world clothing is manufactured in developing countries. Asia is the major clothing exporter today, producing more than 32 percent of the world’s supply. China is the leading world producer and supplier of clothing, providing nearly 13 percent of the world’s exports. But as production and labor costs rise in China, clothing companies are moving to countries where manufacturing is cheaper; places like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines. These countries might not have the raw materials needed, so they’re often shipped there from countries like China, the U.S. and India. Once manufactured, the garments are put in shipping containers and sent by rail, container ships and eventually rail and trucks to the retailer. There’s no way to gauge how much fuel is used to ship clothes worldwide, but 22 billion new clothing items are bought by Americans per year, with only 2 percent of those clothes being domestically manufactured. In total, some 90 percent of garments are transported by container ship each year.


Plastisol inks, commonly used for textile printing and especially for t-shirts, are a PVC-based ink composed of a clear, thick plasticizer fluid and PVC resin. The full name for PVC is polyvinyl chloride. The PVC life cycle results in the release of toxic, chlorine-based chemicals which end up as by-products such as carcinogenic and highly toxic dioxin and PCB.  The major health concern about plastisol inks is not that they are PVC-based but that they contain phthalates. Phthalates are added to PVC plastics to transform a hard plastic into a soft, rubbery plastic by allowing the long polyvinyl molecules to slide against each other instead of rigidly binding together. These phthalates used in plastisol ink to make the PVC flexible are also carcinogenic and much research has been done which substantiates the damage phthalates do to us,  especially to fetuses and newborns. They are released into the environment during the printing and curing of the ink and they will continue to exhaust toxins when exposed to a radiant heat source, such as a dryer or even sunlight. The hazards of plastisol printing inks are not just to personal health but also to environmental health. Garments coated with plastisol inks do not decompose and they are difficult to recycle.

What doesCheck The TagMean?

This initiative is to raise awarenesses of the largely ignored issues regarding the textile industry. If your tag list a developing country or china as the manufacture, it’s highly likely to be part of the problems mentioned above. Same applies if traditional cotton or synthetic fibers are listed as the materials. Support organic cotton and repurposed materials. Find clothing made with planet in mind and fair treatment for the people making it.

What fitpplis doingabout it.

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