What’s in my Tee?

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This week I had the wonderful opportunity to do a Wear it Wise NetImpact webinar on “What’s in my tee?” with chapter leaders and members from around the world. As I was speaking, I realized that since the first time I spoke about healthier fashion options 10 years ago, more and more documentaries have come out about this critical subject. So I thought it seemed fitting to share with you the first video I ever watched that showed how extremely toxic unregulated dye dumping is. Believe it or not, it’s an animated video by Greenpeace! It is called DETOX Fashion.

DETOX Fashion is indeed a great start. For further informative viewing, here’s my list of the Top 5 films you should watch to get familiar with what’s really in your tees, or a child’s pajamas, or that fancy party dress or suit you love and cherish.


  1. The True Cost – If you have not seen this film yet, ask anyone versed in sustainable fashion about it and they will tell you it is a MUST SEE! It is on Netflix, so pick a “Netflix and Chill” night, grab some organic juice or Kombucha, and make some fancy popcorn. (Fancy popcorn recipe – organic corn kernels, coconut oil, and garlic, turmeric, cayenne, and other healthful spices.)


  1. RiverBlue – This movie was inspired by a Google Earth pic of an actual blue river that could be seen dyed indigo from space! Also a MUST SEE!


  1. Unacceptable Levels – There are a whopping 80,000 unregulated chemicals that are widely used in commerce. They can be found in body care, beauty, and cleaning products, as well as clothes, furniture, and other everyday items – OH MY!


  1. Stink! – I just found this on Netflix, and I only got about one-third of the way in before I got so angry about how companies do business as usual even when they are fully aware that the toxins in their products are harming young children. Knowledge is empowering, and I will be Netflixing and Not Chilling while I watch the rest of the film this weekend!


  1. 10 Dangerous Fashion Trends – While this is not a full-length documentary, it is a QUICK FLICK about the history of some horrific chemicals used in fashion throughout history. Basically, SciShow has packed a full feature film worth of facts into a short 10-minute video.


So, my advice for designers is to use natural fibers, not blends, from the get-go in order to avoid non-biodegrable microfibers. Seek out non-GMO, organic, certified non-toxic dyes and fibers (look for GOTS and OEKO-Tex certifications). Try not to skimp out with conventional cotton because of the catchy slogan “Cotton, the Fabric of Our Lives”. Ask for more of better! #MakeShiftHappen #HowtoShopforShift

Written by Taryn Hipwell


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