“The Chinese textile industry creates about 3 billion tons of soot each year, and a single mill can use about 200 tons of water for each ton of fabric it dyes. Millions of tons of unused fabric are burned or sent to landfills each year when dyed the wrong colour. Rivers run red or chartreuse, or teal, depending on what colour is in fashion that season – with untreated toxic dyes washing off from mills.” (Menon, 2010).Dye pollution occurs in many textile-producing countries. Western consumers demand lower and lower prices for clothing forcing manufacturers to cut corners to save money. Water treatment processes are expensive. Meanwhile New Zealand remains ‘clean and green’ and the pollution happens somewhere else, ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
Would we put up with our rivers turning pink or teal or scarlet according to fashion? Probably not. Instead our waterways are contaminated with invisible pollutants. Nutrients from farm fertilisers, heavy metals in storm water and high bacteria levels from dairy farming.
Not so clean and green after all.
Menon, S. (2010, September 17). Cleaning up Chinese textile factories and the clothes you wear. Onearth. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://www.onearth.org/article/cleaning-up-chinese-textile-factories