2013 fashion,

Zara has a dirty little secret:

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 Toxic Chemicals in Clothing Make All of Us Fashion Victims (Opinion)

ZARA clothing items have been found to contain hazardous chemicals. Some of these chemicals break down to form hormone-disrupting chemicals which can then be released into waterways around the world. Traces of cancer-causing chemicals that are released from dyes were also found.
“Nobody wants to be a fashion victim. Desperately chasing the ever-elusive ‘cool,’ fashion victims are generally perceived as ‘try-hards,’ those who sport the latest trends and buy into transient fads, regardless of fit or personal style.”

The current European Union legislation (called EU REACH) now requires all TCF brands and retailers selling into the EU market to manage more than 300,000 harmful substances in their products. This program also sets maximum limits for TCF products that come into contact with human skin.

“The most dangerous way for a toxin to enter the body is not through the digestive system, but through the skin,”

The basic structure and function of EU REACH program is to provide a list of harmful chemical substances limits its role to notification and assessment of the use of these chemicals that apply to all sectors of our economy.

The experts said that the EU approach stands out as the model other countries are adopting to ensure consumers are protected. From an extensive list of restricted substances, there are “substances of very high concern” that the EU regulates more closely as potentially harmful to human health.

In some countries like Australia:   Problems with toxic clothing in Australia can be, in some ways, traced back to a humble pair of woollen underpants bought by a doctor in Adelaide in 1931. He wore them without washing them first, and this caused a severe allergic reaction to sulphites in the fabric that landed him in hospital close to death and, sometime later, in court.
The doctor won his case against the manufacturer, who was found not to have provided due care that the garment in question should be fit for the purpose for which it was intended. Those underpants formed the basis of one of Australia’s first consumer law cases.

In 2012, in stark contrast to a number of other developed countries, little has changed for the better when it comes to regulating the chemicals in imported textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) in Australia. And with more than 90% of the apparel found in our stores imported – and an obsession with what’s been nicknamed “fast fashion” – Australian retailers are under pressure to put more product on the shelves, more often. The downside of this demand, many in the textiles industry believe, is product safety, with the safe use of chemicals a particular concern.

“Products that are made in China for the Australian market could not even be sent back to China, as many of them would not meet the Chinese product safety standards but are acceptable here.”
  There are no legally prescribed limits on the use in textiles of any of these chemicals.

 Here’s an unsettling thought:  The clothes you’re wearing could be harming you in a very real way. Greenpeace’s strategic communications manager Tommy Crawford asserts that—in our quest to constantly keep up with fashion’s accelerated turnover—consumers are falling victim to purchasing clothing that contain hazardous chemicals, even some that have been banned right here in the U.S.

How is this happening?
 According to Crawford, when big apparel companies outsource production to countries such as China and Mexico, certain regulations aren’t always enforced, including the monitoring of toxic chemicals used to dye and process garments.

The study:
 Greenpeace conducted its own investigation into this issue and found that of the 20 brands whose clothing they tested—including global mega-brands such as Calvin Klein, Levi’s and fast-fashion haven Zara—every one was revealed to have traces of hazardous chemicals in at least one item. The report claims that Calvin Klein was the worst offender, with 88% of items tested containing the chemicals, followed by Levi’s with 82%, and Zara with 70%. Some of these chemicals, according to Crawford, are incorporated deliberately within the fabric, while others are unwanted residue from the general manufacturing process.

What this means for you:
This issue doesn’t just affect you, the wearer of the clothes; it could be harming those around you, just like second-hand smoke. According to Crawford, when these chemicals—including toxic phthalates and hazardous amines—are released into the environment, they can break down and develop hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic properties. He also points out that chemicals contained within clothes can be released by people living thousands of miles away, who pollute local water supplies when doing laundry.

What you can do:
 The good news is that there are a number of things you do help prevent this far-reaching and, frankly, scary issue. First, check out Greenpeace’s Detox Fashion Manifesto, which you might want to sign as a show of support for the organization’s Detox initiative, which urges consumers to challenge brands and demand that they create fashion free of toxins. (The good news: a number of companies, including H&M and British retailer Marks & Spencer are already at work pioneering green chemistry, and phasing out some majorly harmful substances).

Other ways to do your part:
 As difficult as it may be, try taking a hiatus from fast-fashion for a few months and consider investing in organic and/or sustainable garments (many of which enforce fair-trade practices, so it’s a win-win!). Elizabeth L. Cline, the author of last year’s buzzy book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” keeps a running list of stylish sustainable and ethical retailers on her website, which is a good place to start. Oftentimes, these garments are handmade and sourced from natural ingredients, which could make them higher in price but eliminates the threat of toxicity.

It’s also worth looking into the Slow Clothes movement, which was originally intended to reject all mass-produced fashion, but has since evolved and can be practiced by buying trend-free quality garments that will last longer and can be repairable. Of course, it also might not hurt to start practicing the movement’s biggest precept: buy fewer clothes, and less often.

Source: Greenpeace.org

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