Chemicals Designers can Avoid in their Clothing

In addition to The BtL “F”ed Up Fashion 5, the consumer-facing short list of chemicals to avoid when buying clothing, the Greenpeace DETOX campaign lists several more chemicals that designers and manufacturers should avoid when sourcing and producing fabrics.

Greenpeace’s 11 hazardous chemicals to eliminate:

  • Alkylphenols
  • Phthalates
  • Azo dyes
  • Chlorobenzenes
  • Chlorinated solvents
  • Chlorophenols
  • Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
  • Organotin compounds
  • Perfluorinated chemicals
  • Short-chain chlorinated paraffins
  • Heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and chromium

Click here for full descriptions.

Heavy metals are often used in fabric-making to help dyes adhere to fabrics. When we wear clothing, these heavy metals seep into our pores and disrupt our endocrine systems, including the proper functioning of our thyroid and adrenal glands. Heavy metals can cause cancer and, in some cases, have been linked to neurological and behavioral disorders.

When you have 1 minute and 24 seconds to spare, there is a  Greenpeace DETOX animated video that was released in 2012 that clearly states why it’s so important to reduce and remove harmful chemicals.

“Detox is now the new industry baseline because forerunners of the textile sector went from total denial and opacity of their supply chain to transparency and the banning of all hazardous chemicals…the rest of the industry that’s using hazardous chemicals is not an option anymore.” Kirsten Brodde, Greenpeace’s Detox my Fashion Initiative

If footwear giant Aldo can detoxify and reduce its use of tanning chemicals and iconic Dr. Scholl’s can release a shoe made from algae and rice husks, then there is no reason why all brands can’t make small, positive shifts that have huge impacts. They can! And for those of you starting or thinking of creating a fashion business, it’s easier to think better from the start and strive for the best as you build simply by finding creative ways to incorporate new and healthier innovations.

You can learn more about being mindful of the fabrics that you are using in Beyond the Label’s new book, How to Shop for Shi(f)t — The Shopping Guide of Healthier Fashion for any Budget! here.

Written by Taryn Hipwell


Explore More

Blue Line Icon on