Interesting points and excellent ones. TweedyDon. At least, the environmental impact of Azo dyes was recognized, and the production of bleeding madras was stopped, although non-bleeding varieties continue to be produced. Now the New England Shirt Company are using non-Azo dyes to create bleeding Madras. Details are in this link:
Apart from bleeding Madras, consider the enormously broader environmental impact of two materials we all use and love in clothing: Cotton and leather. The fact that it takes 700 gallons of water to produce enough cotton to manufacture a single
T shirt is something that has stuck in my mind. Also chrome, used extensively in tanning leather, is very destructive environmentally.
I imagine it is hard for folks like us, discussing Trad styles and older procedures in garment-making, to become comfortable with non-natural (or natural but safe) materials to be used in clothes and shoes -- whether it is vegetable leather, vegetable ivory (tagua or corozo nuts -- I picked up some of these trekking in the Ecuadorian rain forest years ago, and I think I still have them somewhere), or various forms of artificial clothing fibre (acrylic, nylon, polyesters). But eventually, I think the world will be forced to move toward non-natural materials because of environmental damage and cost, provided we still have a world or the human species left, LOL. Also, these materials will have to be environment-friendly -- easily degradable and sustainable.
The change will have to be psychological. We have come to appreciate cotton and leather and other natural substances like wood because they have enduring qualities that make them admirably suited to our daily lives. And they have an attendant history that has been glorified in some ways.This has led to the mystique, if you will, surrounding them, and the products made from them -- tradition, longevity, quality. The shift to less damaging materials has to be accompanied by a sustained campaign of education on the merits of the newer, less damaging materials. This can be done. And they can eventually acquire a new kind of trad value.
I offer two examples, neither of them connected to clothes: Bakelite and Depression Glass. Bakelite is an artificial material that became popular in the middle of the last century and was associated with the Mid-Century Modern ethos in houses and furniture. Depression Glass was cheaply made for dinnerware during the parlous thirties, but also made attractive with intricate patterns. The thing to note is that both types of items, Bakelite objects and Depression Glass, have become collectibles, and people have begun to see beauty and vintage value in them. So my point is that it is possible to change our attitudes to clothing and shoes, and begin to see value in things that are not quite traditional now. They may become Trad in a future that looks back on the past and appreciates their qualities and the reduction in harm to the world that they heralded.
My solution, very temporary and a bit of a dodge, I'll concede, is to thrift. By not buying new things (other than occasional unused items or NOS things in thrift shops), I don't add to the personal accumulation of goods that contribute additionally
to environmental damage. Since the items have already been made or used, recycling is one way to reduce damage, but also a way of enjoying the qualities of cotton and leather through objects that have already been made. If there are more people using them for as long as possible, we would be helping collectively to lessen the burden on nature. I admit there is an element of disingenuousness about this line of thinking, but I think it is one way around the problem.