In time for Fashion Revolution Week this year, non-profit organisation The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation has released a free book tracing the history of chemicals in fashion - covering the entire 'detox journey' - and crucially, to point to new solutions.
Detoxing Fashion for Dummies is designed to help fashion brands reduce their use of toxic chemicals and empower fashion lovers to make informed choices by being able to differentiate a greenwash from a stonewash when it comes to their textile options.
Solving the issue of toxicity in textile production is no easy feat, but that’s exactly what the ZDHC Foundation set out to do when it formed in 2015. Now, five years later, it has more than 160 contributors – brands, manufacturers and chemical suppliers - all collaborating to clean up their supply chains to drive more sustainable chemistry.
However, author Frank Michel, who is also Executive Director of The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation, felt that accessible, clear and independent information on the subject was hard to come by. This was the reason he decided to write and publish a ‘For Dummies’ manual to be made freely available to the industry, students and the wider public with the aim to inspire and educate a wider audience to join the movement.
The book simplifies complex realities and offers valuable insights into how to take action and implement already proven innovations to accelerate change.
Detoxing The Fashion Industry for Dummies answers questions such as: “Why are there chemicals in my clothing? Are they dangerous? Are they necessary? And what is being done to improve things?”, as well as simplifying the complex realities of the global value chain.
A guide to this sustainable fashion revolution in chemistry it is packed with details about how apparel production works, what goes into the process, how it can impact the environment and tangible actions taken by brands to solve this.
Some of the main takeaways from the book include:
- Protecting workers and the environment in communities where production happens is just as important as consumer protection. Extend the focus from the end product and consumer safety to the entire production process and its impact on people and the environment in production regions. Both aspects are equally important and can’t be separated in our journey to detox the fashion industry.
- Manufacturers must work with value chain partners to ensure they have the training and processes to handle chemicals properly. Analyse the product value chain, evaluate the expertise of value chain partners to handle chemistry with care and manage production processes to protect people and the environment in their regions.
- Safer chemical alternatives should be used whenever possible. Control chemical inputs in the production process, regardless if chemistry remains in the product. Substitute or eliminate hazardous chemistry with safer alternatives. There are plenty out there! Good chemical ingredients are essential to reduce water and air emissions.
- Using safer alternatives, better control of chemicals and processes can reduce the overall cost by minimising the amount of chemicals used and waste produced as well as the cost of pollution controls needed.
- Control your processes and cost. Better chemistry does not ultimately come at an overall higher cost. For example, By organising chemical inventories and metering the right dosage of chemical usage sourcing cost can be kept on the same level or in some cases even reduced.
“This book opens the door to a safe future for humanity and for our planet. Written for fashion lovers as well as industry professionals, it is intended to expose the harmful impact of clothing production on people and the environment, and share best practices to turn everyone into true believers and activists of this fashion revolution,” author Frank Michel said in an official press release. “If transformed, this is a sector with so much potential to improve people’s lives - but the relationship between chemistry and fashion is still not commonly understood. We want to raise broad awareness to accelerate change and drive impact in production regions for cleaner water and less air pollution in textile and leather manufacturing.”
You can download the free book here.
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