Healthy living through sustainable clothing

Fashion is far too often chosen on purely visual criteria. But those who buy fast fashion because it looks chic and is cheap support energy waste, unfair working conditions and the use of chemicals. The latter in particular can be transmitted directly from clothing to humans and cause serious diseases. – ©Free-Photos on Pixaby

Healthy living through sustainable clothing

The production of sustainable fashion depends on two things: One is the use of sustainable raw materials in organic quality. On the other hand, the garments should be produced without chemicals as well as with a view to using other resources sparingly. – ©Activedia on Pixabay

Those who follow the mantra of "living healthy" usually focus on a healthy diet, exercise and fresh air. For many people, these are the three basic parameters of a healthy life. Some add to these basics a life free of stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and sweets. Others define healthy nutrition with the help of a special eating style. Eat accordingly vegan or vegetarian. But what a healthy lifestyle has to do with sustainable clothing is the topic of this article.

What is actually near sustainable clothing?

There now seem to be many terms used to describe sustainable clothing. Often the so-called slow fashion is called sustainable, green fashion. The counterpart is fast fashion. Fast produced fashion does not pay attention to the working conditions, material and energy needed for fast production throughout the manufacturing process. It's all about getting clothes to market quickly in large batches – with virtually no regard for what happens in the manufacturing process. Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, is characterized by these factors:

The materials come from organic farming, which means that no environmentally harmful chemicals were used in the production process. In specialty retail, products made from organic cotton, wool from organic livestock, linen, lyocell and recycled materials are used.

No or very few chemicals are used for processing. Water and energy are used very carefully during production. Due to short distances from production to sales, even transport remains sustainable.

Fair are also the conditions for those who produce the sustainable clothing. This means that they receive a fair wage and do not have to suffer inhumane working hours or conditions. Child labor is also taboo.

Why sustainable clothing is healthy?

No chemicals are used in the production of sustainable, organic raw materials. This means that no chemical substances can be released purely from the material, for example from organic cotton or wool from organic livestock farming – at least not during the production itself. If the clothing is then also produced sustainably, this is doubly "healthy". Sustainable production takes into account the careful use of available resources. If you use less energy, less energy has to be produced in ways that are often harmful to the environment. In addition, the production of sustainable clothing avoids the use of chemicals. This means that no chemicals from the raw material or through processing can reach human skin via the garment.

Polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and perfluorinated surfactants (PFTs) are most commonly used. PFC makes rain jackets, for example, particularly water-repellent. However, every downpour also washes chemicals off the jacket, which then end up in the environment and can hardly be degraded there. Polyamide and polyester clothing, on the other hand, is chemically produced using petroleum, gas and coal. Modal and viscose, for example, are cooked in chemicals during the manufacturing process. This process makes the artificial yarn more tear-resistant.

What makes these chemicals so dangerous?

For very different reasons, these chemicals are dangerous. In the meantime, numerous studies, including those by the German Federal Environment Agency, have focused on polyfluorinated and perfluorinated chemicals, which can not only cause damage in water and thus in the environment, but can also be dangerous to humans themselves.

A number of diseases, including cancer in particular, can be promoted by the fabrics. Liver and pancreatic cancer in particular, as well as blood cancer, testicular, kidney and prostate cancer, are said to be the most common types of cancer linked to PFCs.

In addition, tests have shown that PFCs severely and permanently weaken the immune system, so that even a flu infection can become a danger.

Puberty can be delayed, male and female fertility could suffer under the influence of PFCs. In addition to making it more difficult to have a child, consequences have been found in the unborn, such as delayed bone growth, heart defects, and cleft palates. Even pregnancy poisoning. Gestational diabetes were not uncommon.

In children with high levels of PFCs in their blood, vaccinations against tetanus and diphtheria, for example, were less effective than in healthy children.

How to recognize sustainable clothing?

Those who want to buy and wear sustainable clothing can rely on a number of seals that have been introduced to show consumers that it is a sustainably produced garment. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Blue Angel, the European Eco-Label (EU Ecolabel), the IVN seal, OEKO-TEX and the Green Button are the most important labels, which are only awarded after the choice of materials and production have been checked.