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.


No comments:

Post a Comment