Organic clothing considers not only the type of fiber and how it is cultivated, but also how the fiber is processed before it’s made into a final garment. In fact, fabric dyes and finishes are an important environmental consideration when looking for eco friendly clothing. There are many problems associated with traditional textile dying methods. To start, most fibers are bleached white using chlorine.

When emitted into local water systems, chlorine combines with organic matter to form dioxins, a class of carcinogenic compounds that are incredibly dangerous to humans and wildlife alike. After the textiles have been whitened, they are put through chemical dying systems using synthetic dyes. These conventional dyes are often synthesized in the lab using heavy metals and other harmful chemicals that are dangerous for those creating the textiles as well as dangerous for the environment when they leave the plant. They may also pose health hazards to the garment wearer.

Of particular concern are Azo dyes, used to give some garments their vibrant yellow, reds, and orange colors, which have been linked to cancer. Going by names such as “D&C Red 33” or “Sunset Yellow FCF,” these potential carcinogenic dyes can also be found in foods! Despite the fact that these dying techniques are so detrimental to human and environmental health, many developing countries lack the regulations that would guard against their use.

And since the vast majority of clothing sold is manufactured in developing countries where environmental laws are non-existent, this is an important factor to consider.

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