Danish Environmental Agency Pushes For Sustainable Choices In Clothing

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The Danish Environmental Protection Agency announced last month a campaign titled ‘Chemicals should not be in vogue’, in order to equip young people with making more sustainable choices. The campaign focuses on harmful chemicals and aims to create awareness among young people on chemicals in clothes and how changing clothing consumption habits can help reduce chemicals in the environment.

A new Danish study shows that 63% of boys and 70% of girls surveyed between 16 and 22 years old have no or limited knowledge about chemicals in clothing and other textile products used by consumers. The survey also shows that as many as 55% of young people do not particularly care – nor care even a little – about whether there are chemicals in their clothes. Only 7% responded that they could not think of wearing new clothes before they had been washed. Thus, it is believed that the majority expose themselves to chemicals and a potential allergic reaction. The study also shows that young people have little knowledge of labelling schemes in the field of chemicals and sustainability.

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On this basis, the campaign has introduced three general tips on how young people can make a difference by simple actions when they acquire, use and throw away clothes:

  • Look for the right brands when shopping for clothes;
  • Wash new clothes before using them; and
  • Buy into recycling, sharing and exchange.

Earlier in October 2021, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency announced a new concept for producing hemp clothing fibre in Denmark. It includes new methods of growing and harvesting hemp, new enzyme technology to separate the fibres and optimised techniques to spin them. The goal is to engender high quality fabrics for furniture, curtains and clothes.

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The development is supported by the Environmental Technology Development and Demonstration Programme under the Ministry of the Environment (“MUDP”) and is led by Mrs Bodil Engberg Pallesen, a senior specialist at the Danish Technological Institute. Force Technology, an international technological consulting and service company in Denmark has prepared a lifecycle analysis in connection with the project that shows that hemp textile, as it is produced today, has a higher CO2 imprint than cotton, while hemp grown and processed with the new technology has a lower CO2 imprint than cotton. Furthermore, there is lower consumption of fertiliser and water, just as hemp for textile purposes can be grown entirely without pesticides. Furthermore, the harvest yield on a hemp field is even greater ‑ about 2.5 times as large as on a cotton field. The rest of the plant can be used for food and building materials.

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The next step is to fully develop and market the entire concept, from cultivation to clothing design. The participants have involved several stakeholders and will continue working on a new project, Hemp4Tex, until 2024 with support from the Innovation Fund. It is estimated that the production of hemp fibres will take place within the next five years in Denmark. The ambitious goal is that hemp produced in Denmark can achieve 5% of the market potential in Denmark alone, worth DK 60 billion per year.

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