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Could Your Clothes Be Harming You?

 A look into harmful ingredients in our clothing and the new laws on labelling.

This June a new law was passed, forcing all food businesses to include a list of ingredients on all pre-packaged foods. This has come to light as a result of the tragic death of fifteen-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who ate a Pret-a-Manger baguette that she had purchased after being assured by the ‘shop’s staff that it did not contain any sesame. It caused her death as she had a severe allergy. In the aftermath of her death, her parents made it their mission to force lawmakers to pass legislation to protect other allergy sufferers from a similar disaster.

But how does this relate to fashion? Back in May, news stories started to come out that online brand Fashion Nova was selling a bikini that could cause cancer.’ A customer of Fashion Nova noticed a warning label that stated an ingredient in the garment could cause cancer, congenital disabilities and other reproductive harm with DI (2-Ethylhexyl), phthalate, lead and cadmium. But the perhaps more shocking fact was that these ingredients are common in lots of garments, especially from fast fashion companies. Led is used in garment production when dying synthetic fabrics. On Fashion ‘Nova’s website, these warnings are not posted or explained, and it is not until the item is purchased that the sign can be seen. What is most concerning is that it is only in the state of California that it is required to include a warning like this with garments, which poses the question –  Looking further into this issue, it is evident that many garments may contain toxic chemicals. The Huffington Post has said that acrylic fabrics have dimethylformamide in them, which “can cause liver damage and other adverse health effects.”

As a society, we have become so conscious of what we are putting into our bodies with the rise of clean eating. Surely it is just as important to consider what we are putting on to it too? Marci Zaroff is a clean-fashion pioneer who is part of the movement to educate people when it comes to clothes and explain ways to avoid toxic fashion. She encourages people to “Look at brand websites to understand their chemical policies.”

Will the changes implemented by Natashas Law create a knock-on effect that will tackle labelling and ingredients in fashion garments? Or will we continue to purchase garments that could affect our long term health?

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