Did you know that roughly 20% of the world’s manufacturing pollution is caused by fabric dyes and treatments? North Americans consume the largest amount of the latest fast fashion items globally. Most of which is dyed with toxic chemicals that pollute many countries worldwide. Our environment isn’t as healthy as it should be and fast fashion isn’t helping. Textile factories dump dyed wastewater into local lakes and ponds. This causes habitat destruction and many health issues to the people who live in these polluted areas. This is a serious problem for both the planet and its inhabitants.
As you may have noticed, many of the fast fashion items textile factories produce are dyed in pretty vibrant colors that catch your eye. Colors like these are needed to be dyed with harmful dyes that pollute the freshwaters of many countries including Bangladesh, China, and Indonesia to name a few. Buriganga, a river in Bangladesh, “is incapable of supporting almost any animal life” (Fashionista). The water is contaminated with the dyed wastewater and it poisons the animals that live in these freshwater ecosystems. Some animals may drink from the rivers and get poisoned as well.
The polluted water isn’t just bad for animals, these chemicals are also a threat humans. The toxic water gets infiltrated into the groundwater that is used for drinking water, “In China, estimates say 90 percent of the local groundwater is polluted” (Carmen Busquets). Not only are people able to drink the chemicals, they are also able to breathe them in. The odor from the chemicals rises from the rivers and gets into the air, “Teachers struggle to concentrate, as if they were choking on air. Students often become lightheaded and dizzy” (The New York Times). Contact with the chemicals can: trigger allergic reactions, irritate the skin, and even lead to a risk of cancer.
Using filters can drain the dye from the water so the dye will be able to be used again. One might think this would be too expensive, think again. Using cheap metal oxide filters will not only save money, using them will save water too, “The process uses a novel nanostructured material that can suck dye molecules out of wastewater like a sponge. Made from nickel oxide, it can then be heated in an oven to burn off the dye molecules – allowing the material to be reused” (Chemistry World) The water will be recycled to be used in more clothing rather than emptying the dyes into freshwater. Another solution would be to use organic dyes that aren’t as harmful. Buying textiles that are dyed organically contain less chemicals and “less water is required in the rinse process and less dye runs off in the water”(Gaia Conceptions).
To conclude, many textile factories worldwide are contributing to dye and chemical pollution. The factories empty the harmful wastewater into local freshwater. This isn’t good for the environment nor the people that live in it. It destroys ecosystems and the odor causes people to get light headed. To reduce the pollution, factories can install metal oxide filters to filter out the dye to use it again. A way you can help is to buy organic clothing that is dyed organically from plants and clay. Next time you buy a shirt, think about all of the wasted water used to dye that shirt and if it was worth it.
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