#37 Fatal Conveniences™: Toxic Clothes: What Are You Wearing?

#37 Fatal Conveniences™: Toxic Clothes: What Are You Wearing?

Have you ever thought about what your favorite jeans and t-shirt are made of? Sure, the tag may say cotton, nylon or polyester, but what goes into making those fabrics? Remember, whatever you put on your skin goes in your skin. And that’s just as true for your clothes.

Welcome to Fatal Conveniences

This is a bite-sized segment that parallels The Darin Olien Show. In these segments, we get into society’s Fatal Conveniences™. I define these as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to. These things save us time and trick us into thinking they’re actually good for us. But it’s those same things that are breaking down our health and the health of the environment around us.

I’ve spent most of my adult life obsessively researching these “conveniences.” On every show, I pick one topic, and we dive into it. My goal is to make you more aware of these traps so that you can push back on them. Remember, it starts with you and the choices you make. 

So, if you’re willing to look at your world from a different perspective and make little tweaks that amount to big changes, then this segment is for you.

So you scored some cheap clothes on clearance. But at what cost to your health?

Do you know we’ve been paying the same price for clothes since the ’70s? Think about that. The prices of everything else -gas, food, rent – have all gone up, but clothing hasn’t. Why is that? Because clothing companies have been finding ways to make clothing creation cheaper and cheaper. That means cheap labor and cutting corners on safety and regulation. All these short cuts are taking quite a toll on our health. You can find the proof in the plethora of toxins found in most of the clothes on store racks.

In this Fatal Conveniences™ segment, I go over the shocking chemicals and toxins present in most of the clothing in your closet. This stuff is bad news, guys. I had to make this segment a bit longer than usual, for the sheer enormity of information I need you to be aware of. You’ll hear me break down each chemical and the adverse effects they have on your health. 

I know it sucks to hear that your favorite hoodie may be making you sick. But don’t get too mad at me. I’m going to give you some safe, natural alternatives to stock your drawers with. We also go over what red flags to watch out for on clothing tags when shopping for your new apparel. 

I know we all can’t afford to revamp our entire wardrobes, especially not right now. That’s why it’s important to shift your thinking on clothes altogether. We need to start shopping for the long-term. Maybe you have to spend a little bit more upfront, but they’ll last so much longer. And you won’t have to worry about harming your health, or your environment, with your new outfits. 

Other Great Info in this Segment:
  • Rashes- the first sign of an issue
  • Why denim is the scariest of them all
  • Why makes clothes waterproof?
  • The red-flag words to look out for on clothing tags
  • The dangers of PFAs
  • Why is Formaldehyde in our clothes??
  • What is in your undies?
  • The danger of faux leather (Please still avoid the real thing)
  • Why hemp is amazing
  • Why you ladies should free the boobs
  • How to shift your perspective on clothes shopping

The Darin Olien Show is produced by the team at Must Amplify. If you’re looking to give a voice to your brand, and make sure that it’s heard by the right people, head to www.mustamplify.com/darin to see what Amplify can do for you.

Episode Transcript

Darin: It’s that time of the week for another fatal convenience. This is a bite-size segment that addresses some of society’s fatal conveniences and the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of them. I define fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, tap water, shampoo, sunglasses, food. I dive into the hidden truths behind some of our everyday choices that could not only be harming us but even killing us, so let’s dive in.

Darin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show, the next installment, another shocker of our modern day, cutting corners to make profit and also just not stepping into the future, or seeing a product or seeing innovation, and this is all about toxic clothes. So this is very big. I’m gonna have multiple conversations about this or fatal conveniences because there are all kinds of stuff now. If you’ve tuned in to Jeff Garner’s podcast just the other day, then you’ll realize that’s that’s kind of a big fatal convenience but it’s coming from direct experience with from Jeff from being in the industry for over 20 years, and also calling out people that are linked to causing issues. And especially in that episode, you hear the effect that Victoria’s Secret had over 300 cases that they’ve settled linking them and their underwires, their materials, their dyes have been linked to breast cancer. So that’s pretty gnarly. So this one is all about toxic clothes. There are all kinds of directions. So basically, what this is, is modern clothing has been formulated and treated with compounds that help soften them and help prevent stains and wrinkles and all of that stuff. Ultimately, trying to look good, but really not having an understanding that this is the first thing on direct contact with your body that you’re wearing all day. So again, all of this stuff is accumulative. So these compounds that we’re going to go over, so many are linked to adverse health effects, skin irritations, developmental issues and disorders, and of course, cancer, hormone disruption, all of that stuff. And yes, it is jeans, t-shirts, common clothes that are filled full of these toxic compounds. So at the end, I’m gonna go through all of them as a little highlight and what the detriment to them are. But as I’m starting now, whenever you see things like when I was doing the research when you’re seeing waterproof, stain resistance, gore-tex, all of this stuff, that is a straight-up red flag to know that they’re using what’s called forever chemicals and I’ll get into that in a little bit, but some of those waterproofing, stain-resistant, all of that stuff. And it also goes for couches and stuff in our home which I’ll unpack at some point. But the PFAS, polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS, those are the dangers. And in the 1940s, manufacturers realized that this PFAS could resist heat, grease, stains, and in water. And then they have realized that this stays in the environment for thousands of years, so they call it forever chemicals and those things are in contact with your skin. And therefore, it’s creating a whole host of things. So gore-tex basically is Teflon again. So Teflon has been popping up everywhere. So we put it all over in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, we put Teflon all over our cooking pans, cooked our food, eat that, eating this hormone-disrupting Teflon cancer-causing carcinogenic and then we put it on our rain jackets, on our gore-tex and all of these things. And it’s very common found in outdoor gear because it’s trying to you know, the things are, hey, this is moisture-wicking. So when you see that, I don’t mean to throw Under Armour under the bus but maybe I do. These kinds of materials that are not natural, let me just tell you right now, they’re not natural for a reason, and they have chemicals, and we’re going to go through more and more of these chemicals. So PFAS is the first one that I’m talking to. So all of these kinds of special fabrics that are wicking, that are stain-resistant, that are sweat-resistant, all of that stuff, that’s basically saying, you’re punching yourself in the kidney. It has been linked to testicular cancer, liver damage, developmental issues. We also have a big problem with diapers. And a big problem with those little bibs that go around baby’s necks, that stuff, lead. All kinds of lead in those things and they’re trying to wean those out, but that still is so plasticky kind of things that you can wipe away. Go back to organic cotton, some of it is a pain in the ass, but you know what, you’re putting toxins on your baby, and you’re being affected, and then they’re eating, and they’re drinking and all of this stuff, and it’s going right into the body. So Centers of Disease Control definitely call these things out as more problems when it comes into contact with your skin. When are you not being in contact with your skin when this stuff is on? Even if it’s close, or moreover, jackets, you’ve got to be very aware. So some of these other big things that keep coming up. You’ve heard me talk about phthalates are known for making substances like plastic more durable and flexible. And they’ve banned them in children’s products mostly in 2008, but the people making these chemicals, they keep popping up. And now in 2012, an environmental watchdog, Greenpeace, sampled more than 150 clothing items detected phthalates in 31 garments, three t-shirts, pair of underwear. That’s very disturbing when underwear has toxins that you’re basically just absorbing all day and every day. And so they’re all in very popular clothing brands at very high concentrations of phthalates meaning, the chemicals comprised up to 38% of their weight. So these things are in jeans. Apparently, jeans are crazy and Jeff mentioned that in the show earlier in the week that jeans, when you’re working with jeans, they’re actually a hazardous material. That is how they’re supposed to as manufacturers and as designers, they have to get rid of jeans, jean material as toxic material waste. What? Seriously, you heard that right. And again, Jeff mentioned that on the show. So jeans, raincoats, artificial leather, even though I’m a no leather person myself, but the artificial leather has a whole host of chemicals linked to many things. So these chemicals plus a whole lot more are linked to ADHD, asthma, diabetes, breast cancer along with a number of reproductive issues, including decreasing the reproductive function in men, and endometriosis in women. So these phthalates pose the greatest risk to children who might be putting on these contaminated clothes. Let’s just say they are putting these contaminated clothes on. So CDC is so damn conservative with this stuff, but they have called out that these are concerns in the human health effects and they keep saying, well, it’s unknown, but the exposure is widespread. Thanks, CDC, you’re doing great. So children, if you’re going to have a hard time, you want to wear your favorite spandex and all of this stuff, then I would say please start with your children and get rid of the toxic, pay a little extra. Again, Jeff brought it up in the episode before about thinking about buying clothes for the long term. And maybe you can have them redesigned and reuse and things like that. So we’re looking at high-quality organic fibers, hemp fibers, quality designs that are timeless. That’s what we want to look into. So there was an outcry in 2006 and 2007 when the Center of Environmental Health, the CEH, found lead in the vinyl baby bibs. Remember when told you that and that was sold at Walmart and Babies R Us and all of that stuff. So they saw lead levels above 600 parts per million, and the safety threshold was supposed to be lower than 100. So again, all these things are not being regulated. You have to take this on. And when children are exposed to lead, they suffer permanent brain damage. So those convenient little bibs that you have, and whatever convenient little Pampers or whatever the diapers are, be very careful because that’s causing permanent damage to your children. And then also another key factor here is when you smell the clothing that smells like new clothing smell, that’s an indicator of formaldehyde. So it’s basically a colorless gas that they frequently use in the process to help clothes be free of wrinkles. So it’s shown up everywhere because we don’t want to be inconvenienced with wrinkles. So they put formaldehyde that is embedded into your clothes and really doesn’t come out. So super important in 2010 with formaldehyde, the US Government Accountability Office, the GAO released its findings after testing 180 pieces of clothes for formaldehyde specifically, the office found that most of the samples were below 20 parts per million, but the fact that there’s even any of it is dangerous. But also they know that it’s linked to asthma, nausea, and even cancer. So wearing clothes with formaldehyde is more commonly associated with dermatitis. But over a long exposure, the allergic response goes up, dermatitis can lead to rashes, blisters, itchy, but at the same time, internally, asthma, nausea, and cancer. So I’m going to go through some of the chemicals, and then some of the opportunities we have. So glyphosate, which destroys the lining of our gut, and absorbs through the skin, guess what? Glyphosate is showing up in normal cotton textiles. So if you have a cotton shirt and it’s not organic, then the chances are it has glyphosate in it and it’s absorbing in your skin and glyphosate is a genetically modified compound in Roundup Ready herbicides and pesticides. So you are wearing an herbicide shirt. And again, chlorine bleach that creates the whitening, well, that is a dangerous chemical that again is being brought into the system. And then they use that in the denim to create you know some of that natural kind of coloring changes. So you can use hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is just oxygen. You can get it anywhere, very cheap. You can throw that in and get out stains that way. Formaldehyde again is mainly used in the wrinkle-free, shrinkage type dyes and prints. So you want to lean obviously, towards the organic, cotton, hemp, all of that stuff, and then plant-based dyes. And then again, something that pops up again, volatile organic compounds, VOCs. These are solvents that are used in all parts of the textile normal supply chain. So these are finished textiles, these are printed, natural and synthetic. So again, you have to look for organic. And then another one is showing up in clothes is brominated flame retardants. You heard it, ladies and gentlemen. They have been used in children’s clothing for the most part. So some bright idea, I’m gonna put flame retardants on your child. And then that has serious psychological, developmental, brain damage, hormone disruption, consequences. So again, we’re insane. And then there’s ammonia that helps to be shrink resistant. So whenever you see these miracle shirts, basically and these miracle pants, you want to kind of run away from. Just go back to spend a little more money on organic textiles and companies that are doing things right. And also, there’s a bunch of heavy metals and leather tanning is extraordinarily toxic. So these are dangerous. And then again, I’ve talked about phthalates all the time. So we realize that there’s a lot of challenges in the textile industry. So if you haven’t heard of Jeff Garner’s episode, you want to check that out because he gets into a lot of that stuff. So when you’re having that special pushup bra with the wire, number one, it’s cutting off lymphatic flow, and then you’re getting those hormone-disrupting chemicals to your mammary glands that are hormone receptacles. So it’s a very dangerous thing. Free the boobs, girls. As much as possible don’t wear bras, especially ones that don’t have seals of natural fibers and a clear line of transparency in how they’re made. But also, it’s just healthier to not wear them. So Jeff has provided me with a lot of research around toxins and clothes, so I’ll put those in the show notes. But this has gotten me to be very clear, support organic clothing, ask for all these things and get rid of these clothes, especially the underwears and the things like that that were just– and then as soon as we get hot under our arms, we’re just sucking in formaldehyde, phthalates, VOCs, all of these things. So we need to shake up the way we’re looking at our clothes, and pay a little extra and have long-lasting clothes that you can use for a long time. So that was a big one. It’s still a much bigger topic. But between Jeff’s work and Jeff’s episode, and the research we’re providing, please look at it. Please subscribe so you get hit with this. This is frontline stuff, people. We need to be aware of this stuff. So sign up for fatalconveniences.com, sign up for darinolien.com newsletter. We’re getting into this stuff. It’s about freedom, it’s about health, just take your power back. It’s a little inconvenient at first to change your habits but once you do, you’re free, more energy, more possibility and you don’t cut yourself off hormonally at the knees and then think why am I depressed? Why am I not feeling good? Why am I developing aches and pains? You start to understand that we’re being undercut by chemicals that are in and around us at all times. So we need the knowledge and we need to free ourselves. So that’s what it’s all about, being aware, and then taking action appropriately. Okay. I love you all. Thanks for tuning in to this one. And question the clothes you’re putting on your body, and then start making other choices. Love you. Bye.

Darin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope that left you feeling inspired to take a closer look at the everyday choices you’re making and how they could be impacting your health and even planet. If you want to learn more about life’s fatal conveniences, head over to fatalconveniences.com. You can sign up for the exclusive access to Fatal Conveniences episodes, news, insights, and more. And all these great stuff gets sent each week straight to your inbox, making it really easy. Now, that’s a convenience without the negative side effects. It only takes a few seconds to join. Just fill in the form and take that amazing step towards making better choices. Remember, small changes can have big impact. So, keep diving my friends, keep diving. And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the interview, I released earlier on the week, here’s what you missed:

Jeff: People are still buying t-shirts for seven bucks. The same price in the 70s they were buying for us. So what’s happening? Well, we keep moving production manufacturing to different parts of the world that are still beating people down, beating factories down, workers down, they don’t have fair wages. And then we’re using synthetic cheap, cheap, cheap fabrications and we’re not changing that. So it’s like we’re still at the same price point but gas has gone up, living cost has gone up, rent’s gone up, but not clothing because it’s an addiction. We like that feel-good thing of I got a date next week, and I’m gonna buy a new dress at some best fashion company and then throw it away. The cycle is right now, it used to be about three months of a lifecycle. They did a study in 2000. It was like people would keep garments for about three months and then 1998, it was like eight months. Today, it’s like three days that they wear it and then toss it.

Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to www.mustamplify.com/darin. That’s www.mustamplify.com/darin.

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