Toxic Dyes Make Us Sick: Why Sustainable Dye Is So Important - BRANWYN | Performance Innerwear

Toxic Dyes Make Us Sick: Why Sustainable Dye Is So Important

Fast-fashion garment dyeing is wreaking havoc on our planet—here's why we're different.
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The process of garment dyeing dates back as far as the Neolithic era—it seems that the desire to wear colors that reflect our mood and personality is just part of being human. The first dyes were gleaned from plants like onion, saffron, and indigo. But as the apparel industry has industrialized, fabric dying has transformed into an unnatural (and often toxic) proposition. 

Fast fashion dye is polluting our earth, wasting precious water, harming animals, and posing health risks to humans, too. Here’s what you need to watch out for when buying colorful clothes—and why BRANWYN only uses sustainable, natural dyeing processes that are gentle on our earth, friendly to our natural habitat, and always safe for the wearer. 

 

 #1 Problem: Fast-fashion dye is polluting our earth. 

Here’s a depressing fact: The fashion industry is responsible for up to 20 percent of all industrial water pollution.[1] In a number of countries where regulation is weak, wastewater from dye factories ends up being dumped directly in rivers, oceans, lakes, and streams. The toxic dyes and finishing agents (chemicals used to prevent colors from running and staying static-free) pollute essential drinking sources used by humans and often kill plants and animals who call these underwater areas home. 

Our Solution: No dumping and strict sustainability standards. 

BRANWYN produces 100 percent of our Performance Innerwear at a sustainably-focused factory in Istanbul. Turkey has very strict regulations on international sustainability standards—no dumping allowed.  Our facility (called Boteks Boya) goes above and beyond to ensure all dyes and their manufacturers are inspected and certified by OEKO-TEX (prevents against harmful substances), Bluesign (strongest standards for pollution control), GOTS (processing standard for organic fibers), and ZDHC (committed to advancing towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals). 

#2 Problem: Toxic dyes can make us sick. 

Toxic dyes sometimes used in fast fashion are often terrible for living organisms. That includes plant life, sea life, and humans, too. Humans can be affected from runoff when polluted water mixes with irritating crops. One recent study found that textile dyes were present in vegetables and fruit grown in a region of Bangladesh known for textile production. It also can get in our system when we wear clothes. This may be even more true for workout clothes. (Read more on the similar dangers of BPA here). 

Toxins may be especially bad for women. Certain chemicals used in dye and finishing, including alkylphenols and octylphenol ethoxylate, have been linked to hormone disruption affecting the female reproductive system.[2] Women exposed to these chemicals have a higher risk of diseases like breast cancer.[3] Scary stuff that we would never want on any body.  

Our Solution: Natural dyes instead of chemicals. 

Our craft manufacturing approach is all about slowing down and making garments in a sustainable way. This means that not every piece of BRANWYN will be exactly the same shade or fit—just like no two sheep will have exactly the same wool! But we can ensure that there’s nothing dangerous touching your body or impacting the earth. 

 We never ever use these super-scary, but common chemicals: 

  • Alkylphenols: Disrupt the body's hormone system
  • Nonylphenols: Highly toxic to aquatic life 
  • Octyl Phenol: Poses danger to aquatic live and the female reproductive system 
  • Alkylphenol Ethoxylate: Extremely toxic to aquatic organisms
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate: Harmful to biodiversity
  • Octylphenol Ethoxylate: Poses danger to hormone systems, including female reproduction 
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Associated with increased risk of skin, lung, bladder, and gastrointestinal cancers

Instead, to create BRANWYN’s colors, we use: 

  • Plant and vegetable-based: made from plants, fruits, veggies, and fruits. It’s 100-percent natural. 
  • Mineral and soil-based: made from naturally occurring minerals in rocks and soil across Europe, it’s 90-percent natural.  

#3 Problem: Traditional dying wastes (literally) tons of water. 

Industrialized fashion uses an astonishing 21 trillion (with a “t”) gallons of water every year. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, that’s enough water to fill 37 million Olympic-style swimming pools.[4] It’s almost hard to wrap your head around these figures, but according to the United Nations, a single pair of jeans uses 2,000 gallons of water by the time it lands in stores. 

 

Our Solution: Reduced water technology. 

We realized sometimes you do need to use modern innovations to solve long-time problems. Developed by Xeros TechnologiesTM, our factory uses near-waterless washing. This technology cuts down on water use by up to 80 percent by using friction instead of water. Reusable polymer beads unstick and take away any staining, getting clothes ready for wear with a much smaller carbon footprint. 

 

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1. https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/06/10/why-fashion-needs-to-be-more-sustainable/

2. https://www.bcpp.org/resource/alkylphenols/#:~:text=Alkylphenols

3. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/risk/docs/guidance/gw/octylphenolinfo.pdf

4. https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/a-new-textiles-economy

 

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