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The True Colors of Your Clothes

The True Colors of Your Clothes

Over the weekend, I read an article about textile dyes and was surprised to find out just how much they pollute. I never gave much thought to the dyeing process in textile manufacturing before. As someone whose closet looks much like a pack of skittles, this made me reflect on how each piece came to be that bright color. After more digging, documentary watching, and reading, this is what I learned; Textile dyes are extremely toxic, they hurt ecosystems, they are extremely wasteful (especially water), and they pose a threat to our health. 

Most of the pollution takes place in India, Bangladesh, and China where most of the textile manufacturing factories are held. The chemicals used to create dyes get leaked back into the environment causing air pollution and water contamination which directly affects the quality of life of those living in those areas. We also suffer from these pollutants, but not to the same degree as the locals (check out the Citarum River in Indonesia).

What’s being done to fight this? 

Luckily, there are many amazing people out there coming up with ingenious ways to stop this problem. One way is closed-loop manufacturing. A term we discussed in a previous blog is a way to create textiles without harming the environment. Using this method would prevent polluted water from entering the waterways and at the same time recycling water to reduce overall consumption. 

Another interesting article I found was on CNN. Check it out here. They are using shellfish to clean up the polluted water. It’s very cool.   

What can you do to help now?  

  • Next time you are shopping, be on the lookout for certification symbols such as Bluesign or Oeko-Tex. These certifications promise that the products are harmless to the environment and that the clothing is made ethically. 
  • Buy clothing that uses natural dyes. 
  • Choose to shop at local Portland resale shops to reduce the demand placed on manufacturing factories from fast fashion brands.
  • Be mindful when washing clothing. Spot clean when necessary, avoid hot water and harsh chemicals, hand wash when possible, adding ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can help bond the dye to the fabric preventing dye runoff and fading - a win, win! 

Wash those new clothes before wearing !

Where can I find out more?  is a wonderful resource on all things sustainable fashion. 


Here are a few great documentaries to watch:

Till next time,


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