I have just read an interesting article from China Dialogue on how top sporting brands: Nike, Adidas, Puma, Li Ning etc are getting together for a ‘detox’. The world’s top sporting brands are setting out a plan to ‘wean themselves off’ the toxins they use to dye clothing.
In August last year Nike committed to a challenge set by Greenpeace to ‘eliminating all hazardous chemicals across its entire supply chain, and the entire life-cycle of its products by 2020’
Puma have also agreed to up their game and have been taking steps to evaluate their environmental cost. They have ‘calculated that the cost their operations had imposed on the natural environment last year through their greenhouse-gas emissions and water consumption was 94.4 million euros’
I happen to be reading an excellent book on the history of cancer at the moment and just read about how many of the toxins this article talks about were discovered.
In the mid 19th century, the cotton industry was undergoing a revolution and represented about 50% of all of the British exports, however, extracting the dyes used to colour the cotton was still a labour intensive process. The booming cotton industry led to new techniques of dyeing being developed and hastened the creation of the field of synthetic chemistry.
The new dyes that were being developed led chemists to create a whole range of chemical byproducts: solvents, alcohols, alkaloids, amides, alizarins and other non natural chemicals. It was the development of these synthetic chemicals that gave birth to modern pharmacology. They also have serious environmental consequences and it has taken a while for any clothing corporations to take notice. I wonder how long it will take big pharmaceuticals to follow suit.