According to Earth Pledge, a non-profit organization (NPO) committed to promoting and supporting sustainable development, "At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two thirds of a garment's carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased.
Ecological impact of denim production
There are huge ecological concerns to this massive business. Approximately 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in U.S. alone every year, the majority of which will have been coloured with toxic dyes, acid bathed, sandblasted and chemically doused to give the aged, worn in look so highly sought after.
The life cycle of denim starts with the cotton boll, taken from vast cotton crops covering 2.4 per cent of the world’s farm land. If not organically grown, the valuable crops will be drenched in toxic pesticides to protect them from insects and weeds, which ultimately pass into the soil and wreak havoc with wildlife.
Cotton fibres are spun into yarn that is “sized” using starch to give it strength and “mercerized” in caustic soda. Starch is biodegradable, but if released into rivers the microbes that devour it also consume oxygen. This in turn kills off the aquatic life in the water as does the toxic caustic soda.
It takes 1,500 gallons of water to produce the 1.5 pounds of cotton needed to make one pair of jeans. To achieve the correct blue shade, the denim is doused in vats of synthetic indigo. Environmental regulations are not upheld in many developing countries such as Mexico, where water and dyes are cheap. Here the old indigo dye, once used, will be released into the waterways untreated. Apart from the initial dyeing, the stone washing or distressing of the denim is achieved by repeated washing, rinsing, chemical blasting with toxic substances such as silica as well as dye stripping or bleaching with potassium permanganate. All these chemicals are toxic to wildlife if let into waterways and to the workers who inhale it.
There are, however, many up-and-coming companies producing “friendly denim” using organic cotton and more environmentally-friendly ways of distressing the fabric, such as using ozone. It is the responsibility of the consumer to look for these enlightened businesses by checking for labels showing “Fair Trade” and “Global Organic Standard” certification as well as the “recycling” logo.
Read more at http://www.themindfulword.org/2012/distressed-denim-jeans-distressing/#wVSdGA18XXS0ATeq.99
Denim is timeless, buts its conventional production is a sad story for our environment.
At Dewachen, we consider the source of our fabrics and ensure that the Denim we use does not harm our Earth. We may just a small drop in the Water - but with the right choice.
Yes, the low price and/or cool look of certain fast fashion pieces are tempting.
But then be reminded that we are buying far too many clothes,
without considering its effect on our environment.
Thank you Greenpeace, Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney,... for reminding us.
“Not buying [clothing] is best for the environment. Buying second-hand is second best.
But buying sustainably-designed clothes is certainly third best."
Finding Organic Certified fabrics with the right texture, color, pattern and price from a reliable supplier means everything for our collection. But, the market for high-quality organic fabrics is still very small, though 99% or even more seemed non-organic! This is what we've experienced during the sourcing for certified organic fabrics. Most of these fabrics are ridiculously expensive or with very high minimum order.
There are many fabrics in the market made from synthetic materials like nylon or polyester.
Nylon and polyester are made of petrochemicals, which is polluting our environment and causing global warming. They are non-biodegradable, so they don't break down easy and are difficult to dispose. During the production of nylon, nitrous oxide is released. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that is 310 times stronger than carbon dioxide and causes global warming.
What about cotton? Non-organic cotton uses more pesticide per cotton plant than any other crop in the world. This is causing illness and even death amongst cotton farmers who are exposed to dangerous pesticides every day. The local eco-systems are also affected by these pesticides, killing certain plants and animals and causing imbalance.
The dying process of certain textiles are thought to cause cancer. Still many garments are dyed or bleached using toxix chemicals without proper precautions. The workers are exposed to these chemicals and the flow into rivers damaging local ecosystems.
There are so many facts against "toxic" fabrics. But why are there still so many non-organic fabrics and clothing in the market? Because it's cheaper - and most consumers don't care what their clothing is made of, or who made it. Honestly, till recently I was one of them.