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Denim

Okay, okay, I know denim is not a fad. The love of denim continues to last — in 2006, over $15 billion (yes that’s with a B) was spent on denim. Denim production has been outsourced to China (surprise surprise), specifically the city of Xintang, which itself makes around 200 million pairs of jeans every year. One major problem with this is the run off of bleach and indigo dye is literally turning China’s Pearl River, a 1500-mile waterway blue. The Pearl River supplies drinking water to over 12 million people alone in the city of Guangzhou. Not only is it bleach and dye running off into the River, but the runoff also contains several heavy metals, namely lead, mercury, cadmium and selenium. All of these metals by themselves are neurotoxins and/or carcinogens, so combined they are a stew of cancer — literally. Chinese officials insist there haven’t been any reports of illnesses from the population centers that depend upon the Pearl River for fishing, transportation and even more scary drinking water. Yet? The situation is so bad that, like the Great Wall the country houses, the extremely blue water of the Pearl River can, yep, be seen from space. Scary stuff.

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