Despite working on developing SAGES and researching the effects of synthetic dyes for three years now, the impact of synthetic dyes never ceases to shock.
I have recently been reading Alden Wicker’s ‘To Dye For’ which chronicles the dangerous and unregulated world of textile dyes. Woven throughout the book are case studies of flight attendants whose toxic uniforms have led them to experience extreme rashes, breathing problems, thyroid disease and extreme fatigue. The individual cases highlight the true toll on the human body that toxic dyeing processes can take, with first-hand testimonies that are all too often hidden by statistics or chalked up to individual sensitivity.
The book chronicles the history of harmful substances in our clothing and how we got to a place where it is hard to know who is accountable for people losing their homes, livelihoods and health due to toxic textiles. Alden links our consumption of fossil-fuel-dyed synthetic clothing and a rise in eczema, infertility, autoimmune diseases and cancer.
intellectually I knew that these things happened but reading the individual stories brought the issues into focus. The downward pressure on prices from brands that I experienced during my years working in fast fashion is a direct cause of these problems. With complicated supply chains and an almost unenforceable regulatory landscape, a race to the bottom for price ensures that increasing amounts of harmful and unidentified chemicals end up on the clothes we wear, the bedding we sleep in, and the furniture we sit on. These chemicals are damaging enough to those who wear clothes, but to those who work in the industry, the effects are far more severe and even fatal.
This book is a clear call to action to detoxify fashion and if the devastating impacts in countries like China, India and Bangladesh aren’t enough to change your mind, then the individual impacts of wearing these dyed clothes can surely be. I highly recommend everyone to have a read; you can even borrow my (heavily annotated) copy! Or purchase HERE
The landscape presented is a bleak one. I am however a couple of chapters short of finishing the book and the blurb promises to tell us what we can do to combat this, so I hope to be making a more positive Book Club report in our next update!