Have you ever wondered what happens to the chemicals in our clothes?

In this article we will tell you a little more about some of the most used chemicals in the textile and fashion industry, as well as their possible impacts and/or repercussions. Don’t worry, not everything is focused on the problem, we share with you some of the ecological possibilities for this.

Chemicals and their use in the fashion industry

In the processes of any industry, chemical substances are often used that can be harmful to ecosystems, as well as risky for the health of users and/or workers involved in the manufacturing processes.

Fiber production is a subsector related to the livestock, agriculture, chemical and petrochemical sectors.

Agriculture, chemicals, and petrochemicals. The extraction processes of the material from the field to the spinning

The processes of extracting the material from the field to the spinning processes involve large amounts of water and energy, as well as the use of chemicals used in the transformation of the material to fiber.

These substances are related to various stages in the manufacture of a textile product, from the pesticides required for the cultivation of fibers such as cotton, to the chemicals applied for finishing and/or dyeing.

During spinning processes, solid waste such as oils, lubricants, detergents, and textile fibers, among others, are generated.

The environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of fabrics are related to the consumption of chemical products, as well as wastewater resulting from the use of lubricants, kerosene, dyes, and gums that are used to facilitate the weaving process to strengthen the warp.

Finally, for textile transformation and finishing processes, large amounts of water, energy and chemical agents or dyeing processes are used, which are washed at the end of the dyeing process, generating contaminated wastewater.

Health impacts of chemicals

Polluting chemicals such as nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), phthalates or azo dyes are some of the many involved with our clothes. However, it is difficult to know which substances were present in the finishing, dyeing, and printing process of the garments we buy.

When clothes are washed, some of these chemicals are released and become wastewater that permeates marine sediments.

Fashion is the second most water-demanding industry, generating around 20 percent of the world’s wastewater, releasing half a million microfibers into the ocean each year. And all this results in the destruction of biodiversity and the deterioration of ecosystems, but also in health problems for the populations affected.

Textile workers not only work in unsafe and unhygienic conditions for low wages, they are also exposed to substances with serious impacts on their health.

Some of these substances can function as endocrine disruptors that alter the functioning of our hormones, altering our reproductive system among other organs. As well as possible carcinogens causing diseases such as fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), chronic fatigue and breast cancer. For this reason, some of these substances have been banned in the European Union, however, some companies continue to import products in the processing of which these substances have been used.

Possible Solutions

In response to all this, there are alternative possibilities to mitigate the impacts and improve the health and living conditions of the workers and users involved.
We list some of the possible solutions to attack this problem and find new ways to create responsible fashion:

– Natural Dyeing
– Botanical Print
– New technologies such as Dye Coo
– Dyeing with water and/or energy saving use.
– Use of non-toxic substances, biodegradable lubricants, and natural starches in the spinning and weaving processes.

At Creamodite we are in a constant search to find solutions and proposals to counteract the impacts of the industry.

Creamodite has been researching and promoting the zero-waste fashion patternmaking and design method since 2016, with sustainable design methodologies capable of achieving garments with zero waste by working with shapes. If you want to learn the method, you have the online course.

For more info contact us at info@workef.com or at our web creamodite.org

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