When it comes to detoxing your home one thing that is often overlooked is the toxins and microplastics hidden in our clothing and bedding. People don’t realise that in every single washing load there are teeny, tiny particles from our clothing, making its way into our waterways, and impacting our oceans and the creatures that live there.
In a day and age where it is so easy to buy clothing at a click of a button, we are forgetting about the long term impacts it’s having on our health, environment and even our pockets.
Back in the day clothing was made from natural materials such as bamboo, hemp, wool, silk and cotton to name a few. Each piece was unique and made lovingly by hand.
Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry is now already huge and getting bigger and bigger by the minute. They specialise in making cheap clothes and cheap clothes mean cheap materials and more often than not factory labour, where the workers are in extremely hostile conditions and are making very little money to survive on. Instead of natural materials we are using fibres such as acrylic, nylon and polyester which are all plastic based materials generally derived from petroleum.
As well as our fibres becoming chemical based, we are also using colours, dyes and even fire repellent and crease reducing chemicals in our clothing. Fire repellent chemicals are more commonly known as the term “low fire danger” found on the tag, which don’t get me wrong sounds like a great thing. However, when it is then associated with skin disorders and other health issues such as chronic coughing at night time, you truly do have to wonder what you’re putting on your skin and is there another answer. I’ve touched on the basics of the incredible organ that is our skin on this blogpost here (link to the armpit detox), and how everything that we put on our skin is absorbed. When it comes to the chemicals and dyes used in clothing that is no different. We are also breathing in those toxins as well each time we wear them.
So let’s getting into the statistics around our ever so growing addiction to fast fashion. According to the WWF it takes 2,700 litres to make ONE T-shirt, this is enough water for one person to survive on for 900 days. If you then consider the fact that 85 million people (1 in 9) don’t have access to clean, safe water you really do have to consider… “Is that brand new $3 T-shirt really worth it”? Here in Australia alone it is estimated that 6,000kg of fashion and textile waste is going to landfill EVERY 10 minutes. That is just one country on this planet, so you can only begin to imagine how much space which could be used for growing food or for forest rehabilitation, and resources that are used for making the clothing but also for getting the clothing to and from shops is just wasted because of the dire need for brand new clothes. There is an incredible Documentary called “War On Waste” which has an episode focusing on this issue. There is also another Documentary called “The True Cost” which focuses on the ethical side of clothing, who is making our clothing and shows their working conditions, and how much they work for very little pay. They’re both really eye opening and well and truly worth watching if you want to delve even deeper, into the chaos that is “fast fashion”.
Another tip of this ever-growing iceberg is the microplastics that come out by the thousands in every single wash.
It’s estimated that in every wash you are putting a whopping 700,000 plastic particles into the waterways PER WASH, according to a study by a team at Plymouth University in the UK. One of the scariest parts of this is that the particles are too tiny to be caught by our washing machine filters or by our sewerage system filters, meaning every particle makes its way into rivers, and eventually the beautiful ocean. This is causing copious amounts of damage to our food chain, potentially poisoning our foods. There was a study in The Journal of Environmental Science and Technology where they found that it’s possible humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastics a year. That is a lot of plastic makings its way into our bodies, it’s no wonder that despite having the most advanced medicine in history, that we as humans are the unhealthiest, wehave ever been. Plastics are known to reduce our bodies ability to maintain a healthy, strong immune system and are also linked to impacting our microbiome. Which is our gut lining, made up of billions of good bacteria’s. There is still not a lot of research out there on this issue and how it impacts our bodies, but unless we begin to make more conscious choices than the long-term impacts of microplastics in our environment, food and clothing will only get worse.
So, what are the alternatives?
One thing with buying ethical and eco-friendly clothing is that you are not going to find a T-shirt for $3. This is a huge reason why fast fashion is so popular because people just cannot simply afford the cost of living, let alone a pair of bamboo pants that cost $100.
However, there are some great alternatives that won’t hurt your pocket:
1. Op Shops: Everyone knows of them, everyone loves them. The best part is you can still get the pleasure of shopping while keeping an eye out for clothing made out of natural materials. Whenever I am out at an Op Shop, I am always keeping my eyes peeled for clothing that is made from either Cotton, Hemp, Bamboo, Silk, Wool or Linen.
2. Depop: This is by far my favourite place to get clothing for myself. It’s an app where people sell their clothing they don’t want anymore. Kind of like one giant, virtual Op Shop. I tend to get more of the expensive, ethical brand clothing on here as the prices are extremely reduced due to wear, a few things that need mending, or just the fact that people are sick of having a pile of clothes they don’t wear in their wardrobe. My favourite brands to look for are Indigo Luna, Opia Byron Bay, Oakie The Label, Hara the Label and Orbit the Label.
3. Marketplace: This could be Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or even eBay, Instagram or Etsy also tend to have lots of people selling second-hand clothing. There are so many groups that you can search up specifically selling pre-loved clothing made from Natural and eco-friendly materials.
4. When it comes to Birthdays or Christmas, ask for vouchers for ethical clothing stores. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that you want, or to explain to people why you are choosing to reduce your consumption of poorly made, cheap clothing. So many out there are totally oblivious to the impact that our buying choices are doing to this planet, so it’s always worth having that conversation with people to wake them up.
Last but not least though I think the most important thing to think about is “Do I really need that item of clothing”? I personally wear my clothes to the point of no return; I’ll mend them till I can’t anymore and find that the only things I buy more regularly are socks and underwear (there’s only so many times you can mend these before they get totally uncomfortable). I put money aside so that I can buy better quality clothing, purely because it lasts longer and is also so much better for the Earth and small communities and businesses. This does mean that I am 100% behind with trends and am more often than not in the same clothes every few days… But I can go to sleep at night knowing that each little choice I make, each business I support and each material I wear is making a small difference to how we can move forward as human beings on this beautiful planet.