We continue to grow more conscious about the environment, and increase our efforts to protecting the world we live in. With this comes the organic movement that has surged significantly in recent years. More and more of us are realizing the benefits of organic food, organic consumer products, and organic-driven practices has on us and the planet. But what about organic materials in fashion? Clothing made exclusively of organically produced cotton– its methods of its production have shown to be a lessening the impact on environment–can affect significantly our health and earth’s well being. While for some people organic clothing figures in their every day life, but for most of us this organic style is fairly new which why we have outlined an introduction to all the benefits of organic clothing and the cons of conventional cotton production to get a better overview of this trend.
About the Working Conditions
It’s no big secret that in developing countries where cotton is often produced for big retailers or major brands, working conditions are far from favorable. Some may argue that this is one of the reasons these brands decide to relocate their production in third world countries because it costs very little to produce clothing there. Wages for factory workers have been also been found to be far below minimum and the working hours long and strenuous. It is because of these poor conditions that many shoppers have opted for products not made in sweatshops, and in turn seek products that although may cost more, do support better working conditions for all. But the increase in consumer cost may not seem as steep as we think. In a study found in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, showed that an increase in the salary of sweatshop workers would only increase the consumer cost of a product by 1.8 percent. And in fact, consumers showed a willingness to pay 15 percent more on a product that was not manufactured in a sweatshop.
Toxic Elements in Conventionally Produced Cotton
Non-organically produced cotton poses a danger, not only for the earth in general and the people producing it, but also for the consumers who wear the clothing made of such materials. There is a high amount of chemicals used in cotton production (25 percent of global insecticide usage). Not only that this amount of toxic chemicals is polluting the environment, but it is also a danger for workers, farmers, consumers, waters and wildlife ecosystems. Due to its high doses of pesticides, cotton is considered one of the world’s direst crops. In fact, Aldicarb, a poisious insecticide to humans and wildlife, is still used to this day in over 20 countries, including the United States. There are numerous reasons why there continues to be so much pesticides in cotton production, one of which stems from the cost of acquiring safer, healthier equipment. Often times, farmers due to financial strains cannot afford to upgrade their equipment, and therefore continue to use outdated practices. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has noted that farmers and farmworkers in developing countries often use antiquated and often dangerous equipment during the pesticide application, resulting in dangerous spills and inadequate protection for workers.
Moving Towards Organic Cotton Production
The movement towards the production of organic cotton was and is based on care and respect for the environment and the people who live in this planet. Farmers using these green alternative practices are using non-genetically modified organism seeds when producing cotton. In order to keep pests away, and keep the soil fertile, they rely upon crop rotation, hand weeding and trap cropping rather than using toxins. When processing the plant into the fabric we wear, they use plant-based and non-toxic dyes and earth-friendly bleaching methods to create that traditional look of regular cotton without of course, the dangers.
The Benefits of Organic Cotton
Organic cotton has shown to be safer and a morally more ethical way of producing clothing. This is in part due to the no use of chemicals in its early production, and the finishing product. Making the gradual move to organic clothing in the fashion world is a big deal. Many of the clothes we wear today are often made from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester–both of which are very bad for the environment. Despite the preconceive assumptions that organic clothing is incredibly uncomfortable to wear, sustainable wear can in fact be both visually stunning and incredibly comfortable for the wearer. When choosing sustainable dresses or any other piece of clothing, there is an assurance that none of the lingering toxins in the material can be absorbed into your skin; thus exposing ourselves and wildlife to chemical pesticides. Less exposure, less harm to the environment.
Do Your Research
We are witnessing more and more major brands switch to organic cotton and silk. Even smaller brands and retailers are delving into the environment-friendly practice. But a word of caution, do your research beforehand to determine whether these retailers are in fact “organic”. This can be a gray-area issue for some as several brands can market their clothing line as organic but still use some form of chemicals, dyes and bleaches in their production that go against a strict notion of organic clothing. So definitely make sure to read the clothing tags, retail websites, and review sites for more information on whether or not to purchase an organic clothing piece.
Brands Worth Checking Out
With more brands releasing eco-friendly clothing lines, it’s now becoming easier to combine our inner fashionistas with trendy clothing but still do our part to save the planet.