Become part of the solution.






Playing sport is good for your mental and physical health.

So why manufacture sports gear in the highest polluting way? Nike air max.

Even if you pollute far away from your native home, air pollution travels around the globe.



Golf Refugees 2014 polo (90% < CO2 + 90% recycle dye H20)
Optional extras; C02 face mask, air filter snorkel


What do your favourite sportswear brands do with their toxic dye water?

Local rivers and lakes in Asian countries change colour to match your clothing after western brands simply wash away untreated dye water, causing widespread pollution to people and the environment.

Golf Refugees 2014 apparel recycle 90% of its dye water. The other 10% is lost through evaporation.

Become part of the solution.



This is Beijing; people actually play golf in Beijing, even tour players have to play there, though they do wear smog masks on the fairways.

China is one of the few expanding areas for golf.

When you manufacture lots of western consumer goods using high polluting coal fired power stations, this is what happens.

It doesn't matter who you are, if you wear and play golf with gear made this way you are part of the problem.

To become part of the solution you could wear golf apparel made by renewable energy which reduces harmful CO2 emissions by 90%.

Golf Refugees 2014 apparel only for people who give a damn.



Natalie Gulbis In Mask, LPGA tour player

The LPGA – Ladies Professional Golf Association - fully support athletes taking their kit off for publicity shots, unless they wear smog masks. Skimpy clothes are fine, bikinis are fine but a smog mask is a real no no.

Should the LPGA be censoring pictures of golfers wearing smog masks? What is the purpose of their actions? Is it to try and hide the existence of air pollution on the fairways? Smog is not fog, right? Well wrong, the LPGA only recognise ‘fog’.

No one in the world plays golf in smog, really.



What is climate change? Climate change is a balance judgement on the greenhouse gases generated by mankind and natural processes and the ability of planet earth to absorb these greenhouse gases to enable our climate to continue in a reasonably steady state for future generations.

The current state of affairs is that we are generating 50 billion tonnes annually and rising of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The balance judgement by Stern and other scientists is that CO2 emissions need to be reduced to 20 billion tonnes over the next 40 years to provide us with a 50/50 chance of limiting any temperature climate change to 2 degrees. Consequences of much high temperature change could result in mass population movement from areas left inhabitable.

Stern argues for greater energy efficiency and investment of 1-2% GDP in lower polluting technologies. He also advocates for the regeneration of degraded forests.

Now you may feel climate change is a load of hot air and I’m not going to try and persuade you otherwise. You can read the Stern report and others and decide for yourselves.

All I would argue for is why shouldn't we generate our energy needs in a more environmentally friendly way? Why should we manufacture consumer products in a highly polluting manner?

Do we as consumers wish to continue purchasing products which maximise pollution to maximise profits?

The above polo shirt by Golf Refugees in made by recycling 90% of its dye water and reducing CO2 emissions through using renewable energy by 90%.

We have suggested to the governing bodies of golf and tournament organisers that all officials and volunteers at golf events should consider wearing environmentally friendly shirts. Unfortunately these same events usually have apparel sponsors who manufacture their apparel in a more polluting way.



It’s only a matter of time. Coming too a fairway near you.

What is responsible manufacturing? For textiles it can be described as paying a living wage to workers, recycling and treating toxic dye water during the colouring process and using renewable energy to power factories reducing CO2 emissions.

But there is a big problem with responsible manufacturing, consumers cannot see it. They can’t see any immediate benefit from purchasing a responsibly made polo shirt.
They can only see brands marketing and sponsorship activities.

Should any business choose responsible manufacturing? It is more expensive, as you have addition expenditure reducing the pollution from your manufacturing facilities. This additional manufacturing expenditure will have an affect by reducing the amount of money you can spend elsewhere on marketing. That’s why highly profitable apparel brands ignore responsible manufacturing.

When sportswear brands compete to sign top athletes the irresponsible have a financial advantage over the responsible and are able to offer more money to sports stars. Obviously sports stars and their management companies could seek out more environmentally friendly sponsors, but as they are paid to achieve the maximum financial package, this goes out of the window. To create a level playing field brands should have to prove they are responsible and if not pay an environmental levy as recompense for their polluting practices.

Please note the pictured polo shirt by Golf Refugees recycles 90% of its dye coloured water and reduces CO2 emissions by over 90%.



Just one of the pictures the LPGA declined to show on their web site during the recent Reignwood LPGA Classic tournament in Beijing.
The LPGA resorted to using the state-owned Chinese news media’s long-time favorite means of downplaying the dangers of smog - simply label it as “fog”.


Professional golfers were choking on the greens in Beijing, but it wasn't due to an outbreak of the yips.
Hazardous levels of pollution descended on the Chinese capital during its biggest sporting weekend of the year so far, affecting competitors and spectators alike at an LPGA golf event and the China Open tennis championship.
The sight of golfers wearing surgical-style face masks at the Reignwood LPGA Classic was hardly the advertisement that the sport was seeking for the first Ladies Professional Golf Association event to be held in China. Play was delayed for several hours Sunday to attempt to give the smog time to clear, before players including Germany's Sandra Gal, pictured here, took to the fairways donning masks.
The pollution levels -- which saw visibility drop to less than 500 meters at times, according to China's National Meteorological Centre, and prompted the U.S. Embassy to advise its citizens to stay indoors and run air purifiers -- has led to questions being raised of the viability of international sporting fixtures in the northern Chinese city, or at least their continued ability to draw big names.
Professional players remarked about the dire conditions, labelling the air quality "a disaster" and "a joke."
"How much of your life disappears when you spend time here? I get dizzy when I get up. If you blow your nose in the evening, the paper turns black. It's just not healthy to be here.
David Shin, director of Sporting Republic, a company that organizes sports events in Asia, said it was unlikely Beijing would be able to continue to attract big names at sporting events unless pollution issues were addressed.

So there you are professional athletes who accept huge sponsorship deals from leading western sports brands are complaining about pollution levels in Asia. Those same western brands all manufacture their sporting goods in Asia. Irresponsible manufacturing with a total disregard for the pollution they cause for the people who live and work in those countries. The money these brands save on sourcing cheap labour and using countries with non existent environmental policies enable a bigger marketing pot and sponsorship deals for top athletes. The exact shirts those professional players are wearing on their backs help create the poor air pollution. They are part of the problem. How about professional golfers wearing sports apparel manufactured in an ethical, environmentally friendly way?

Sandra Gal is a fantastic European golfer and now feels the need to wear a mask on the fairways.

Next time you see a sports apparel review in digital or printed media, picturing the latest colourful outfits be sure to recognise the brands have deliberately left out an essential piece of modern sportswear; a smog mask. It’s the one place they don’t wish their logos to be seen.



The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is recognised as the world's leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well.


Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres can become GOTS certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. The choice of accessories is limited in accordance with ecological aspects as well. A functional waste water treatment plant is mandatory for any wet-processing unit involved and all processors must comply with minimum social criteria.

Golf Refugees 2014 tour polos certification by GOTS.

Would you like to be the first golf professional on tour to wear the best apparel for your skin, body and the environment?


Seve and Maurice. Maurice is on your right.

I’m going to have to print some more Maurice Flitcroft shirts. After all Maurice is a great British sporting underdog hero. He may not have been one of those child prodigies, who started playing golf as soon as he could stand up. He was a crane driver. Despite his lack of natural talent, he believed in himself and achieved his dream of playing in the Open. The governing bodies of golf treated him like dirt. To me he’s a sporting hero for ‘ordinary folk’. There should be a statue of Maurice Flitcroft outside St. Andrews.

How about a crowd funding campaign to build one? If there are any sculptors out there, how much does this sort of thing cost?



Unsurprisingly Golf Refugees were the first brand to use ‘graffiti style’ graphics in golf. We developed packaging and logos for our three-piece ‘white’ graffiti golf ball.

Until now we've never used the graffiti designs on our shirts, so here’s a pic of how it might look.



Continuing on from comparing the subject matters covered in reviews of sports apparel and sports vehicles. When you drive a car the amount of tax you pay is affected by the stated emissions for that vehicle. Higher polluting vehicles are banded in higher tax brackets for business mileage. You also have to pay congestion charges to drive higher polluting cars in cities. However, if you drive very low emission vehicles you are exempt from these taxes. How about rolling this concept out onto other consumer products, to encourage more environmentally friendly manufacturing?
For example if you wear low emission sports apparel (LESA) you could have a reduction in the fees you pay to play sport and a reduction in ticket prices to watch sporting events.
There are ways to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emissions when manufacturing apparel.
Imagine paying less to play around of golf if you wear a low polluting polo shirt or pay less to watch a golf tournament as a spectator if you wear LESA.
Electronics could be embedded into apparel to prove and differentiate low emission sports apparel.


There’s no such thing as an independent sports apparel review.
The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Fundamentals of manufacturing textiles are based upon chemicals and sweatshops.
So how come you never read about any of this when sports apparel is reviewed? Are these reviewers blind, stupid or paid directly or indirectly not to say anything negative? Rules of the reviewer game are; never mention sweatshop factories, never mention any of the hazardous chemicals used and never mention the pollution caused by untreated dye water. They all have such a narrow remit.
The world’s population is increasing, more and more consumer products will have to be manufactured. How are we going to do this?  More efficiently, with less pollution, with focus upon cradle to grave design principles?
It may be stupid of me to compare reviews of sport cars and sport apparel, but when I read about sports cars it always seems to mention their CO2 emissions. How technology is making them more efficient, year on year. I never read any of this about sports apparel. Hands up if you've ever read about the CO2 emissions of your polo shirt?
Is there an explanation for this? Well, car manufactures have environmental obligations to meet. Across the range of vehicles they produce, brands have to meet CO2 targets. They also have to meet targets on recycling of materials for their products.
Nike and adidas are the biggest names in the sports apparel business. They are also the biggest greenwashers. They both have ‘green’ PR strategies, which primarily exist to distract people’s attention away from the need to clean-up their supply chains.
What about schemes from nike and adidias for recycling their sports apparel?
Wouldn't it be cool to read that Tiger or Bolt or Ronaldo wear an ultra efficient, low carbon emission, low polluting shirt that can be returned and recycled?
Instead, they are sponsored to wear apparel manufactured in a sweatshop, infused with hazardous chemicals and where untreated dye water is washed away to pollute lakes and rivers in Asian countries. Obviously you are not going to read anything about the reality of textile manufacturing from independent apparel reviewers, only the brands marketing copy recycled by the numerous sport networks, channels, digital and printed media.



Group photo; Golf Refugees 2014 tour polos.
Ethically made in a factory that recycles 90% of its dye water.



Despite its fashion-forward claims, Nike has made little progress since its Detox commitment in 2011. The company has no credible plan to eliminate priority hazardous chemicals; it refuses to recognise the critical principle that there are no environmentally acceptable levels of hazardous chemicals and is unwilling to embrace a transparency revolution across its global supply chain. What does Nike have to hide?

Greenwashers like Nike continue to use the ineffective Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) industry group as a smokescreen to mask their lack of individual action and ambition to clean up our clothes. These fashion fakes are hiding behind weak commitments whilst portraying themselves to consumers as fashion conscious, industry leaders.

Nike refuses to be held accountable for its toxic problem and continues to champion a commitment lacking the credibility, ambition and individual action that we urgently need. Nike, it’s time to come clean, stop greenwashing and, when it comes to Detox, Just Do It.

Two years after it crossed the line as one of the original Detox pioneers, Adidas has failed to credibly follow through on its Detox commitments. The company has yet to eliminate any of the priority chemicals from its supply chain and does not clearly recognise the crucial principle that there are no environmentally acceptable levels of hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, Adidas does not consider the importance of the public’s “Right to Know” about the release of these chemicals by any of their supply chain facilities, Adidas continues to ignore its individual corporate responsibility.

What’s worse, Adidas still claims to be a toxic-free hero. Hiding behind the ineffective paper commitments of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group, Adidas presents itself as a fashion-forward leader. In reality, Adidas has become an obstacle to progress by lowering the level of Detox ambition, holding back the fashion leaders and using the ZDHC as a greenwash screen to avoid taking the tangible, effective and necessary individual actions needed to Detox their global supply chain.

It is time Adidas stopped greenwashing and went all in for Detox.


Making coloured textiles is a messy business; it requires lots of water and hazardous chemicals in the dyeing process. ‘Dye me a river’ is an awareness campaign to inform consumers about the problematic issue of what happens to the residue dye water. If you decide to manufacture your apparel outside of Europe, say in Asia , where there is little or no environmental regulation, it is perfectly legal for you to dispose of your toxic dye coloured water into local rivers. This results in widespread pollution with significant repercussions for local marine life and potential to contaminate drinking water for human consumption. So why do leading apparel and sportswear brands let this happen in the factories that make their clothing?  Money is the simple answer. It would cost brands more money to introduce processes to clean and recycle the dye water in their contracted factories. It is easier just to wash the problem away. Even though many of these brands have substantial bank balances, the drive and necessity for increasing profitability through spending money on marketing and sponsorship offers a much greater commercial return than rectifying any environmental pollution issue.

What are the potential solutions?

Deregulate the European market which will then allow apparel brands to pollute rivers across Europe, creating a level playing field with Asian countries. Some may regard this as a backward step.

Introduce environmental regulation in Asian countries. Over time this may well happen, but apparel brands will just move their manufacturing to those individual Asian countries that resist pollution regulations.

There are facilities that do recycle their dye water. For example Golf Refugees use a factory which recycles 90% of its dye coloured water.

How can more apparel brands be persuaded to use such factories?

When ‘independent’ on-line and printed media review apparel they could include information with regard to what ingredients are used and where and how the clothing is manufactured.
Unfortunately the media just reiterates what the brands desire, as they are being funded directly through advertising revenue by the leading apparel brands. Any potential negative aspects of their products are dutifully excluded. There is no such thing as an independent review.

Sponsored athletes and consumers also have a vital role to play. They need to start asking questions of their favourite brands.

Do the running vests worn by Usain Bolt pollute local rivers when they are manufactured by Puma?

Do Tiger Woods favoured red polo shirts he wears on the final day of tournaments pollute local rivers in Asia when they are manufactured by Nike?

Do Ronaldo’s football shirts pollute local rivers in Asia when they are manufactured by Adidas?

‘Dye me a river’ aims to bring awareness to consumers and calls upon all apparel brands to state on their web sites whether or not they recycle their dye water?

Consumers and sponsored athletes need to look beyond the marketing and see what’s behind the apparel they buy and promote.