Stylishly Clean Living

Sharing my journey of cleaner living and better health without sacrificing style.

Dangerous Chemicals in Our Clothing

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Two months ago I would have never even realized there was a concern about chemicals in our clothing. I’m embarrassed to admit this but when I would see a yellow tag hanging off children’s pajamas I would avoid those clothes like the plague. You know, the yellow tag that says, “For child’s safety, garment should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant. Loose-fitting garment is more likely to catch fire.” I felt that it was crazy for me to put something on my children that was so dangerous it had a warning label.

As I shopped for cooler pajamas in preparation for our trip to Florida, I was finding it close to impossible to find pajamas without this label. I, along with my in-laws, searched many stores but wasn’t having any luck. It suddenly dawned on me that in 2014 we are trending for safer products so my thinking had to be wrong. This scary yellow warning label had to be a good thing.

I quickly did my research and as many of you probably already know, our government requires this warning label in children’s pajamas without flame-resistant chemicals. I further learned that there is practically no need for this chemical as children’s clothing is more likely to catch fire at times when they aren’t asleep- like when they are near a fire place or in the kitchen. This led me to wonder what other chemicals are in our clothing, are they necessary and is it possible to find chemical-free clothing.

Recently, Australia has had a recall of several jeans due to the high levels of azo dyes that are thought to be associated with a risk of cancer. This recall included women and children’s jeans from Target.

Another concern of chemicals in clothing is the pesticides used to grow cotton. According to, ” it takes about one-third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt.” Even if some of those chemicals are washed away, there is a concern about what is added to garments when they are being made. Organic Consumers goes on to say, “Chemicals often used for finishing include formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.”

Take Action
Greenpeace is a leader in discouraging companies from using these toxic chemicals. Through their efforts companies like H&M have begun committing to zero discharge of toxic chemicals by the year 2020 and they continue to urge other companies to do the same. You can go to Greenpeace to learn more about harmful chemicals in clothing and how you can help in pushing Disney, American Apparel & Adidas to “clean up their act” by tweeting.

Where to Shop
You can search the web for companies that offer organic cotton & bamboo and use low impact eco-friendly dyes. Just like with organic food, organic clothing comes at a higher price. As I searched, style was also often sacrificed but I was able to find options that I would actually wear or put on my children. As a girl who loves a discount, I don’t plan on tossing my entire wardrobe. That’s just not practical for me, but I’ll start adding pieces slowly over time. Here are the best sites I found in my search:

Indigenous Stylish clothes for men and women. Fair trade is also part of their mission.
Blue Canoe Organic Currently running a $20 promo on 3 tops with strips.
Gaiam A leader in fitness clothing, they also offer casual styles.

For the Little Ones
Kate Quinn Organics Currently running their semi-annual $10 sales making many of their items very affordable!
Garden Kids Clothing Baby and children’s clothing that is made in the USA.

Is there a company you’ve used and like? Let me know in the comments.

Organic Consumers Association
Business of Fashion


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