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Hazardous Chemicals in Fashion Product Life Cycle

Key takeaways:

Risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals at all stages of product life cycle Oeko-Tex provides best ethical standard (hazardous chemicals)
APEOs and APs impair human and fish fertility
Integrate global goal UNSDG 6.3 into business strategy

Greenpeace Detox Campaign provides valuable information to get started

There are thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used within the clothing product lifecycle. The risk they pose to human, non-human, and environmental health is dependent on the amount present (in the sample) and the properties of the chemical compounds (how they interact with other compounds).

Chemicals play a significant role in the manufacturing process from assisting in the fast turn around of crop production to creating beautiful vibrant and water resistant fabrics. However, if we are to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6 Clean Water and Sanitation then we must make the next decade, the decade of action

UNSDGs

United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 6.3 states:

“By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”.

If we are to meet this goal then we must equip ourselves with the knowledge to take action on protecting our People + Planet. This goal can apply to all stages of the product life cycle from the farm to factory to customer care (washing) and end of life. Fashion labels serious about ethics in their supply chain need to incorporate this target into their business strategy.

Farm

Pesticides and synthetic fertilisers used in non-organic cotton farming can have trace elements as the product moves along the life cycle.

To add, denitrification, the chemical process of nitrogen fertiliser where oxygen is removed, consequently turns into nitrous oxide. As this is released into the air it becomes a potent greenhouse gas attributing to global warming. The run off of fertilisers and pesticides into ground water supplies and waterways causes environmental destruction. Unsustainable practices are short sighted. Sure, they can increase crop production but as land becomes desolate year on year, crop yields will fall.

Factory

Corethics is a strong advocate for the use of circular wastewater treatment plants due to their ability to remove hazardous chemicals from reaching the environment (among various other benefits!). The combination of chemicals used in the yarn processing, dying, and fixing process, if not properly treated, can have lasting impacts on the local environment and human health.

In 2011, Greenpeace launched their Detox Fashion campaign asking fashion labels to stop hazardous chemicals from polluting waterways. Greenpeace identified 11 priority chemical groups:

  1. Alkylphenols (APs) & Alkylphenolethoxylates APEOs)

  2. Phthalates

  3. Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants

  4. Azo dyes releasing carcinogenic amines through reductive cleavage

  5. Organotin compounds

  6. Poly- and Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

  7. Chlorobenzenes

  8. Chlorophenols

  9. Short-chain chlorinated paraffins

  10. Heavy metals: cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium (VI)

Take APEOs for example, this chemical is used across a number of products including wetting agents, spinning oils (yarn and fabric), emulsifier/dispersing agents for dyes and prints, impregnating agents, degreasing agents for leather hides, dyes and pigment preparations, and down/feather fillings. APEOs pose little threat as they are weakly estrogenic. It is not until they are released into the environment and become APs that they begin to bond with other cancer causing chemical structures.

APs have been known to bond with xeno-estrogens. To us humans, xeno-estrogens have endocrine disrupting effects such as decreased sperm count, and an increase in testicular, prostate, and breast cancer. To fish, birds, and mammals it is toxic, affecting fertility, decreasing stocks and ecosystems become impaired.

Customer

Research has found that hazardous chemicals present in clothing can be attributed to skin allergies, carcinogenic causing cancer, and reproductive disruptors. High concentrations of APEOs have been found in grey water after customers wash their clothing item for the first time. The importance of tracing, auditing, and ensuring your products are safe cannot be underestimated. Accreditations that look at human health as well as environmental impact provide a wholesome approach to ethics in the fashion supply chain.

Whether you’re a business owner or customer make sure you take a look at OEKO-Tex Standards.

Closed Loop

Australian fashion waste to landfill is amongst the highest in the world. We need brands to rethink their product life cycle and consider the end of life and how clothing might continue in the cycle. For those manufacturing offshore in developing countries where waste the need to rethink the product This will not only cut greenhouse gas emissions but will also provide a sustainable future for the fashion industry. With all the hazardous chemical effects on human, non-human, and environmental health we desperately need fashion designers to understand what they are creating and ensure it is doing good rather than harm.

When we are mindful of hazardous chemicals and detox, we become mindful of water and when we act with ethics in both - we can create peace for our People + People.

Keen to get started on ethics in your supply chain? Book your first free first 15-minute consult today.

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Why urgent access to clean water is so important in Bali during the pandemic

We all have heard that Bali is a paradise with a very spiritual feel, but beyond the stunning beaches and magical temples, Bali is challenged with immense problems of water contamination after a year of living with COVID-19.

The reality is Bali has a lack of freshwater but that's not the only problem. Bali is experiencing a falling water table, salt-water intrusion, decreasing river and lake water, and land subsidence. When you consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bali, you can add economic problems. Let's explore this further by focusing on two important areas:

  1. Water and COVID-19
  2. Tourism and economic problems 

Water and COVID-19

Bali Advertiser and Annals of Tourism Research shows the lockdowns affected water distribution from outside the island and now more than ever access to safe water is critical to the health of families in Bali so they can prepare and protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases. 

 

Tourism and economic problems 

Tourism is the main source of income in Bali. In 2019, tourist arrivals brought in 6.2 million dollars while in 2020 just brought in 1 million and more than 90,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs. 

We should remember that for people on the island it is really important to have access to clean water because it is basic for growing food and surviving.

We invite you to be a part of the solution and join us to make a difference in the lives of our neighbours in Bali. Support Corethics to deliver: education, innovation and tailored environmental and social solutions.

 

Dalila Chagoya

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Why #waterforbali is a Story of Tourism

From water depletion to water pollution, understand why and what you can do.

10 minute read

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Aussie travelers were in the top 3 most frequent flyers to Bali, Indonesia. This is important because 80% of Bali’s economy relies on tourism, and tourism uses 65% of Bali’s depleting water sources. And, when you consider 60% of Bali’s water table is declared dry you can start to put the pieces together as to why clean #waterforbali is every Australian and every tourist's responsibility.

Image @CassieGallegos on Unsplash

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6 Ways to Start Ethics in Your Supply Chain Today

So, you’ve been thinking of how you can become an ethical, sustainable, or eco-fashion brand? There is no hard or fast way to guarantee ethics in your supply chain.

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Why prioritising green manufacturing in the developing world will create lasting change

Climate change is here right now and manufacturing is affecting and helping at the same time. Affecting because the sector consumes lots of energy and other resources and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases which exacerbate environmental problems

Photo @Pixabay

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