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Cotton uses approximately 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides, on 2.5% of agricultural land.

Chlorpyrifos, used in West African cotton, causes brain and foetal damage, impotence and sterility. In 1999, 500 cotton farmers committed suicide in the space of two months in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Suicides often result from debt when crops fail and debt owed on pesticides cannot be repaid.

Nylon is non biodegradable and its manufacture causes nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.


Polyester is made from petrochemicals. It is non-biodegradable and uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination.


Rayon (viscose), is made from wood pulp. Deforestation is often a by product of this process and potentially harmful chemicals are used in its production process.


Wool Farmers are regularly exposed to organophospate sheep dip during conventional wool farming. This has been linked to severe nerve damage in humans.


Virtually all polycotton (especially bedlinen), plus all ‘easy care’, ‘crease resistant’, ‘permanent press’ cotton, are treated with toxic formaldehyde.


Notwithstanding the animal rights issues, conventional leather manufacture has a highly polluting tanning and dyeing process

A typical full length fake fur coat contains at most 1.3 kilos of synthetics; the same energy as 5 litres of petrol.

Global Action Network

3. Conventional fabrics

A few facts about a range of fabrics from nylon to fake fur