Why You Should Care What You Wear

6 Main Reasons to Change Your Clothes Today

Not many people pay attention to how “healthy” their clothes are. Now is the best time to start because what you wear can leave a harmful imprint on the environment and your wellbeing. Take note of these six alarming offenders found in most clothes today, and how they can damage your surroundings and increase health risks for you and your loved ones.

Non-organic or genetically engineered (GE) cotton

Non-organic or genetically engineered (GE) cotton

Non-organic or GE cotton is called the world’s dirtiest crop. It makes up less than 2.5 percent of the global cropland, but consumes a larger proportion of hazardous agricultural chemicals. Non-organic cotton production typically uses nearly 7 percent of all herbicides, 10 percent of all pesticides and 16 to 25 percent of all insecticides.

These substances lead to major hazards because they cause environmental pollution, and can harm farmers working with these chemicals, families living near cotton plants and consumers buying cotton clothing.

In particular, genetically engineered Bt cotton, which was introduced in 2002, was supposed to produce its own internal pesticide and help reduce insecticide use. However, Bt cotton not only needed more sprayings than indigenous cotton, with farmers spraying 13 times more chemicals, but it also paved the way for the development of new chemical-resistant plants.



Fleece jackets or clothes made with synthetic textiles release hundreds of microfibers when washed. Around 40 percent of these washed microfibers bypass wastewater treatment plants and instead end up in lakes, rivers and oceans.

This is very bad news, since microfibers can soak up toxins like a sponge, block sunlight and harm plankton. They also threaten the health of marine life who feed on them and increase health risks for humans who end up eating these tainted fish.

Microfibers also contribute to the current plastic pollution problem and add to health risks already triggered by chemicals often used in plastic production, which include:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) and bisphenol-S (BPS) that may disrupt embryonic development and increase the risk for obesity, heart disease and cancer
  • Polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) that are known to extensively damage the ocean floor
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene and foamed plastics that tend to accumulate into massive floating mounds of trash

Other factors that can heavily influence microfiber release include:

  • Age of the item: Older clothes often release more microfibers.
  • Fabric quality: Lower-quality generic brand fleece sheds 170 percent more microfibers compared to high-quality fleece.
  • Fabric type: Acrylic fabrics shed microfibers up to four times faster compared to polyester and polyester-cotton blends.
  • Washing machine type: Top-loading machines release 530 percent more microfibers than front-loading models.
  • Water temperature, length and agitation strength of the wash cycle and type of detergent used: These play a role in the breakdown and shedding of microfibers.


Polyester is usually manufactured into suits, swimwear and athletic gear like shirts, jackets and bottoms. However, because this is typically made from petroleum, its production is an energy-extensive and toxic process that not only requires large amounts of crude oil, but also releases toxic emissions into the air, which have already doubled in the last 15 years.

Apart from being environmentally hazardous, polyester is also unhygienic, given that odor-causing bacteria can thrive on polyester’s open-air lattice structure.

Stain and Water-Resistant Clothes

Stain- and Water-Resistant Clothes

Don’t be fooled by their supposed benefits: Stain- and water-resistant clothes are sprayed with carcinogenic flame-retardant chemicals. These chemicals aren’t broken down in the environment, and can lead to complications such as learning deficiencies, reproductive system damage and a higher risk for cancer.

Fabric Softeners

Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners are utilized to make clothes feel softer, give them fragrance and reduce static cling and creasing. Unfortunately, fabric softeners often contain harsh chemicals that can be absorbed by the body and potentially irritate your skin. To make matters worse, some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners haven’t been tested for safety!



Phthalates are added to fabric softeners and dryer sheets to provide fragrance, but they happen to be carcinogenic chemicals. Phthalates can lead to negative impacts to reproductive health, such as early onset of puberty, altered hormone system function and male reproductive tract development, reproductive and genital defects and reduced testosterone levels and lower sperm cell count among young males.

Dirt shirt