Australian fashion is loaded with toxic chemicals – Organic & Natural fibres are the way to go, says Choice

It’s no surprise for us here at sorella & me to read a report this week by independent consumer watchdog Choice on the toxic chemicals found in Australian clothing and the damage they are doing to our health as well as our environment.

In Choice’s report, Andreas Schimkus, a Senior Advisor from the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TCFA) states:

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

Therefore, any garment in contact with the skin can easily transfer the toxic chemicals used in its manufacture and finishing through to the individual.

Toxic Chemicals are found in garments

Image via Choice ‘Chemicals in Clothing’

Further, and perhaps even more alarming, Schimkus says:

“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.”

This is terrifying!

This means our import regulations are so relaxed that the clothing entering our country are able to carry high levels of toxicity – so much so that even the country that produces them won’t accept them back on their shores! The Chinese know that these garments are not only dangerous to human health, they also know how incredibly harmful to the environment they are (most clothing ends up as landfill and the toxic chemicals seep into the ground and the air we breathe).

90% of Australia’s clothing is imported, and we have clearly become complacent about  safety regulations to allow it through. Instead, we have become caught up in the spiral of fast fashion – needing and wanting new styles, in new colours, at unreasonably cheap prices.

“We have strong regulation and monitoring of imported food but we’re not even thinking about regulating the levels of chemicals being used in clothing processes such as fabric treatments, dyes and printingsays Schimkus.

I will be the first to acknowledge that it can be quite difficult to find clothes in the mainstream market that are not only fashionable but also use natural and organic fibres (it’s definitely a little easier online and there are many wonderful Australian labels to be found). However, we have come a long way in the last 5 years and the consumer has the power to create a demand for safe garments if that is what we want. If we stop buying these cheap garments with high toxic chemicals through them, while placing pressure on the regulators to increase safety requirements, the companies that design and sell these garments will be forced to work differently. That is, they will need to source and use natural fibres.  There is no reason we can’t have many of the current styles we see everyday in shop windows made with ethically produced and safe textiles. To argue otherwise is simply ignorant.

What you can do

The Choice report suggests the following:

  • Look for organic cottons, as well as natural and vegetable dyes.
  • Shop for natural fibres, cotton, linen and wool, particularly for children.
  • Wash any new clothes twice before wearing (although washing won’t remove certain types of chemicals).
  • Avoid products labelled stain-or water-resistant unless the manufacturer provides details of the chemicals or processes used.

You certainly have a safe choice with sorella & me – we only source certified organic cotton (certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard) and we do this because we understand and won’t tolerate the risks associated with the chemicals found with regular cotton.

We don’t believe you, especially if pregnant, should be exposed to such chemicals while you sleep, nurse, and enjoy playtime with your children. You and your baby can sleep and breastfeed with the assurance you aren’t being exposed to toxic (and proven to be carcinogenic) chemicals commonly found in conventional cotton.

There are certainly many sleepwear choices on the market, but very few are organic. Our collection has been expanded to now include men and women in addition to the original maternity collection – so there really is no reason anyone needs to sleep in toxins.

Have some more questions about Choice’s recommendations? You can read the full report here.

Have any additional questions about sorella & me’s organic cotton? Contact me directly at anna@sorellaandme.com.au

How do you feel reading this information by Choice? Does it motivate you to think differently about the clothes you buy for you and your family?

~ anna

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