Why should we all be wearing Organic Clothing
What exactly are you wearing today?
The racks of T-shirts and slacks at the local department store may be impressive, but there’s a side of the textiles and fabrics industry you don’t see.
Did you know cotton alone uses 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides?
Odds are you’re wearing a T-shirt grown with a cocktail of toxic substances.
The organic clothing movement seeks to create clothes from fabrics and materials that are grown organically—reducing the number of insecticides and pesticides used and reducing the the amount of energy used in farming by up to 50%.
Organic Agriculture Standards
- Organic agriculture requires practices that do not utilize synthetic and toxic materials.
- Organic agricultural standards require farmers to use natural farming techniques and materials such as crop rotation, green manure, organic compost, and pest controls that are naturally occurring such as bone meal or pyrethrin.
- The idea is to avoid all the ‘short cuts’ that are afforded by technology and genetic modification to preserve a sustainable environment and address health concerns caused by artificial pesticides and insecticides.
- Countries may have varying standards of organic agriculture but the majority of developed countries will have enforceable certification organizations to ensure farmers meet organic agriculture standards before receiving organic labels.
Organic Clothing Fabrics and Materials
The most common type of organic fabric is cotton. Manufacturers use cotton for a wide range of products such as towels, diapers, sanitary products, clothing, and even stationery.
The versatility of cotton creates a large demand for organic cotton products.
Hemp in particular is a useful organic fabric though it suffers from the stigma that associates it with recreational drug use.
Hemp requires minimal amounts of water and is a durable and strong fabric. Typically it’s woven with fibers of silk or cotton to reduce its rigidity, but it makes a fine fabric for organic clothing.
Bamboo is a popular choice for sports wear due to its natural moisture-wicking properties and its silky feel.
Washing and Cleaning your Organic Clothing
Though cotton remains the most popular fabric choice, a majority of the emissions associated with the lifespan of a cotton T-shirt come from the amount of water and energy needed to wash and dry the thick fabric.
If you really want to reduce the impact of your clothing maintenance on the environment, considering your methods of washing and drying clothes can have a major impact.
Air-drying and biodegradable detergents can help reduce the impact of washing that cotton T-shirt.
Dry cleaning also potentially has a negative environmental impact depending on what solvent your local dry cleaner uses.
PERC, a petroleum-based product, and DF-2000, a hydrocarbon solvent, can both be harmful. PERC is a known cancer-causing carcinogen and DF-2000 is harmful to the environment.
A eco-friendly alternative is to invest in fabrics that can absorb wet cleaning, a solvent-free approach, as not all fabrics and materials can be wet cleaned.
We all wear clothes every day, well, most of us anyway and so organic clothing is an important area to investigate to reduce your impact on the environment.
Investing in organic clothing is no different from consuming organic products. It’s a daily way of reducing your environmental impact.