HTH Episode 006 Toxic Textiles. Is your clothing poisoning you?

I’m not tryin to scare people or overwhelm them but I do think we all need to be aware of what the risks are so we can make conscious and informed decisions. The fact that some people want to just bury their head in the sand or better get call me paranoid doest change the fact that there really are detrimental toxins and more often than you think in detrimental amounts in our textile purchases.


I’m Alyssa this is Haws Talks Health


(housekeeping notes: Researching for these podcasts is about the equivelant of studying for the final exam for a upper level college course. Except harder because if I get anything wrong I don't get a bad grade I get rude, sometimes hateful comments that attack anything from my parenting skills to my character to my mental faculties. AKA, it's hard. If you spot an inconsistency- be kind. <3 I'm learning along with you!)


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Show notes:

First off I wanna give a shout out to The Simple Folk. You can shop them at thesimplefolk.co they have some amazing and adorable options for GOTS certified Organic clothing and other low impact options. I found their brand around the time that I was starting research for this podcast and when I reached out they happily offered 20% off to my listers with the code: NEW20

So enjoy that at thesimplefolk.co we have some pieces from them Actually our easter pictures are all The Simple Folk on my instagram if you follow us there.

You’re probably wondering what is GOTS certified and we are going to talk about that later but FIRST! I want to do a quick over view here.

There is a lot to this topic so I want to try to keep it simple and straight forward.

Firs things first there is a thing called

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) protects the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from consumer products

So that alll to say that this isn’t some obscure idea I am throwing out there. You know if the Govy knows its been a while, there is pretty much resounding science to back it up and the general public has already caught on a knows haha. That’s how indisputable this is.

Here I linked a list of reports they have on different toxic dangers in textiles you can read if you would like.

https://search.usa.gov/search?affiliate=usagov&query=toxins+in+clothing

Ultimately to cut to the chase there are 5 top (although many others) toxins we see over and over again in our clothing and other textiles (lets just focus on clothing for now as an example but when we are talking about this keep in mind things that are made with material like couches and carpets and rugs and strollers and baby products…lots and lots of baby products which is honestly pretty believable if you have had a baby recently. They’re tiny people and reach their toxic limits sooner. But yet what we do is insane! We blame the baby!! “He has sensitive skin”. “She is just so sensitive”. Yes, babies are sensitive! But instead of just accenting that as the REASON rather than the expression of a problem lets look at what in their environment could be causing this!

1)Lead, reading in the CPSC reports it is shocking how much clothing tested contains over the allowable limit of led. There is so so little control over all the mass amounts of fast fashion we ship from China primarily but also other countries with the same issues and toxins!

Lead isn’t just used in zippers (although there was a huge lunch bad and backpack debacle not too long ago where tons of backpacks and lunch bag zippers where full of led) Actually it is used to Dye clothing especially brightly colored clothing. So all those moms you roll your eyes at for the neutral trend may actually be on to something! Clothing with muted colors are less likely to have lead than brightly colored clothing!

2) Formaldehyde : usually used to keep clothing from molding or growing bacteria during transport. Sounds pretty good right?

Except all you probably know about formaldehyde is that your creepy 8th grade teacher pickled his pig intestines sitting on the shelf in the classroom with and that several kids got itchy eyes just from being around the fumes dissecting rats. Now Imagine taking 2x the allowable limit and putting that on your little kids body and then sending them out to play. Would you really be surprised when they came back with a rash? Yet we seen to just be so surprised with why our kids have rashes, eczema and we buy all these expensive creams and lotions and take them to all these drs. I’m not saying that it is this simple for everyone- I’m just saying that it could be for some. I don’t know. Washing your clothing before wearing isn’t just about germs from someone who

3. Phthalates: Ok, check out my highlights on Plastic on my instagram page if you want to go more in depth about the risks and affects of phthalates! I talk about a super interesting study on rats. Either way its common knowledge that Phtalates- what gives plastic its flexible features, are endocrine disruptors. An example of this in clothing would be plastic printed logos, characters, sayings, all those cartoons they paint on… So if you’re anything like me you don’t have to feel guilty avoiding those bright flashy character shirts that you child wants to wear every. Single. Day.

4. PFC (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals): linked to cancer and kidney disease is something used in rainboots, raincoats, shiny high heels, swimming suits… its a water repelling agent and also an endocrine disruptor

5.2. NFE (nonylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenols): industrial detergents

So what then we all be nudists? Haha. Well that poses its risks too right? So what do we do?

I want to remind you that your body is resilient. The point of this is not to make you scared and afraid to live- it is to empower you to make small choices to take a little bit of the load off of your amazing, resilient body.

Lets talk about a few options for reducing your toxic intake through clothing:

  1. Avoid fast fashion- bright colors, cheap quality, plasticy logos, straight from china in mass amounts

  2. Wash your clothes before you wear them. Washing non-organic clothing is much like washing non-organic produce- chemicals are literally inbeddded in the fibers and you really aren’t going to get it all off (not to mention especially for those who use grey water for gardening etc. that you’re washing those chemicals into your grey water- into your garden and right into your mouth through your food BUT you will get some off and a little more each time you wash which leads me to the next tip

  3. Wear second hand, Buy used clothing and goods They have off gassed and released or worn off their toxic properties. This is also an amazing option for those looking to reduce their footprint on the earth because as they say the best clothing for the earth is the clothing that never had to be made In the first place. (Marci Zaroff) Take advantage of the Vintage trend!

  4. Buy from trusted sources. I know we all appreciate the ease of buying something quick and cheap off of Amazon but the truth is with millions of sellers this is extremely hard to regulate. And to be honest now days with the price really isn’t typically that much cheaper because the demand for Amazon goods is so high. I’m not trying to villanize Amazon I use amazon daily. I’m just using it as an example of a very under regulated source of a lot of consumer goods from china. And I mention China specifically because they are the biggest source of textiles for the US and the biggest offender when it comes to toxic overload. Besides quality control buying just straight QUALITY will help you avoid having to re-purchase as often starting the process of toxic delusion over time all over again. Buying ‘Made in the USA’ is a good way to reduce exposure even though most material that the ‘make in the USA’ clothing is using is made and processed in China it should help a bit. I would guess specifically for formaldehyde exposure

  5. Lastly and the best option looking at no other aspect besides purely reducing Toxic Exposure would be buying Organic clothing

I wanted to take a minute on this one because this is something that I want to start to implement in my family more and so I researched it a but more. Also I think there is more to it than the other options. First of all you can buy clothing that is made using organic cotton … and you can buy clothing that is GOTS certified (and there are other certifications as well but this one is probably the most common and kinda the standard as far as I can tell) . GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard again there are others but I want to keep it simple and share about this one today. So what is the difference between a GOTS certified garment and a garment that says ‘made with organic cotton’ Well, surely the organic cotton is a step in the right direction, however it simply means jus that - it’s made using organic cotton. It doesn’t speak to the processing that went on during production. GOTS certified clothing however- like the clothing I mentioned from The Simple Folk

So Where can I buy?

GOTS, Cradle to Cradle, and OEKO-TEX or BlueSign are all good google search words when looking for different brands to buy from!

This year, Target released a chemical-reduction policy with the goal that by 2022 they will remove PFCs and flame retardants across their product lines. Can’t find any info on if this has happened! But this is very exciting to me as far as flame retardants in couches and baby products which are banned in a lot of places already. This doesn’t mean you’re 100% just buying at target because of course PFCs and flame retardants aren’t even in the top 5 we listed for toxic textiles.

Ok lets review things to look for and things to avoid:

Things to avoid:

Labels that say ‘flame resistant, stain resistant, flame retardant, wrinkle free, static free, fake leather, shiny plastic logos and coatings, water proofing features, brightly died clothing (especially on synthetic fabrics because they require more and stronger dies to dye things), fast fashion, cheap clothing that needs replaced often, cheap baby products, cheap mass produced school supplies like backpacks, zipper pouches, lunch bags etc

Things to look for:

Used clothing, GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified clothing and goods, lightly dyed clothing with natural fibers.

Out of all of the places I found online I really liked Coyuchi (I’m looking at their Organic bedding right now) and The Simple Folk because it has a boutique feel and their kids clothes are just super adorable and right up my alley they have tons of dual GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified cotton clothing and they even use natural plant dyes. They also have some things that aren’t cotton but still sustainably made like the cutest baby swimsuits.

For my hiker friends Patagonia is really highly ranked for their clean and chemical free textile practices.

Lastly I wanted to note and link a goop interview with Marci Zaroff who helped create the GOTS. There is a really cool comprehensive chart LINKED HERE: is-your-clothing-toxic that lists chemicals found in textiles what they’re used for what types of things they’re found in and what the risks/concerns for that chemical are. I kinda wish I had found it before doing all this research haha because it’s super easy to understand and breaks it down really well. Only a few of the toxic chemicals are ones that I’ve mentioned and there are 9 on the chart so go check it out!

Some SOURCES and more easy to read info on the topic:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/these-are-the-gnarly-chemicals-in-the-cheap-clothes-we-buy_n_57d6e494e4b03d2d459b92ff

is-your-clothing-toxic -GOOP Interview

https://fashionunited.uk/news/business/5-main-hazardous-chemicals-in-clothing-from-china-named/2018102939678


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