What are organic and eco friendly fabrics?
Organic and eco textiles cover a wide range of natural and recycled fibers. Certified Organic textiles are grown in controlled settings with no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers and are certified by an international governing body such as Control Union, IMO (Institute for Marketecology) or One-Cert. The term “eco textiles” refers to a select group of textiles that have a reduced carbon, energy and pollution impact when compared to the standard methods used to produce textiles and manufacture clothing. Generally, eco friendly fabrics are produced from crops that do not require pesticides or chemicals to be grown, use less water and energy to be produced and processed and create less waste during production, processing and at the end of their useful lives (known collectively as their “environmental footprint”). Sustainable textiles can also refer to man made fabrics produced from renewable sources such as bamboo or wood.
There are myriad eco friendly fabrics whose benefits go beyond their positive social and environmental footprint. In many cases the fabrics we will discuss are softer, more durable, hypo-allergenic, stronger, UV resistant and more moisture absorbent than conventional cotton. Check out our environmentally friendly fabrics resource library and find out which eco alternative is best for you.
Why Go Eco? Here are some quick facts:
- Growing cotton uses 22.5 percent of all the insecticides used globally
- Growing enough cotton for one t-shirt requires 257 gallons of water
- The bleaching and then dyeing the resulting fabric creates toxins that flow into our ecosystem
- The use of rayon for clothing is contributing to the rapid depletion of the world’s forests
- Petroleum-based products are detrimental to the environment on many levels
- Conventional cotton represents 10% of world agriculture and uses 25% of the world’s pesticides (OTA)
- It takes 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to make one conventional cotton t-shirt!
- 7 of the top 15 chemicals used in conventionally grown cotton are classified as known or suspected carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Why we should buy organic clothing as opposed to conventional clothing?
- for example, approx. 10,000 to 17,000L of water is required to product 1Kg of cotton lint
- conventional cotton consumes 11% of the world’s pesticides and 24% of he world’s insecticides, despite the fact that cotton only uses 2.4% of total arable land
- the main raw material used to produce polyester is oil- oil is a non-renewable resource so polyester production is not sustainable
- Polyester is not biodegradable- any polyester textiles that end up in the land fill will remain there for a very long time
As our populations continue to grow and as developing countries enter the middle class, demand for textiles will continue to grow. To meet this demand without sacrificing our health and the health of our planet, we simply must find sustainable textile solutions. Those sustainable solutions are there in the form of organic cotton, organic wool, hemp, Tencel, silk, bamboo, etc. It is just up to us to make the conscious choice to change our purchasing decisions.