We love our Earth. We separate the aluminum from the glass from the paper from the trash. We turn the air conditioner off when we leave the house. We don’t leave the car running or drive to places within walking distance. We do our part to reduce our impact on the environment–and we’re happy to! But we can do even more; we can wear green pride like a badge of honor with eco-friendly organic fashion. It’s more than a statement. It’s window into our chosen way of life.
The world is beautiful, and we are privileged to preserve her. Let’s be dutiful! So, why organic fashion?
By definition, organic clothing is not processed with harmful chemicals such as synthetic dye or chemical-based finish. These substances contribute to pollution and are technically toxic. Yikes! Eco-friendly fabrics are manufactured through processes that use less water and energy and produce less waste, often employing renewable energy sources like solar or wind energy–as opposed to non-renewable resources like coal.
Eco-friendly fabrics may be created in part from recycled materials. Using old materials to make new ones diverts waste away from landfills and other waste management systems while reducing the use of virgin materials. Newly manufactured organic fabrics are made from non-petroleum derived fibers, which occur naturally in the environment and are therefore biodegradable: they can be broken down by natural processes and do not release toxins into the environment. In truly organic fabrics, these plant (or animal) sources are renewable and are cultivated using environmentally friendly and sustainable farming techniques, employing organic fertilizers to avoid pollution, crop rotation to avoid erosion–and many more.
Conscious consumers, be on the alert for “green washing,” a practice by which some companies attempt to benefit from the Green Movement by marketing their products as “eco-friendly,” even if they aren’t. Keep informed! Look for Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification or one of the other eco-friendly textile labels. These labels certify that all stages of textile production have met the specified requirements for environmental friendliness!
Here’s a quick rundown of the best and worst fabrics in terms of sustainability:
1. Polyester: as a petroleum-based fabric, polyester has the highest carbon footprint of any other fabric, which makes it the worst pollution offender, despite its low price and popularity.
2. Nylon: another petroleum-based by-product. The production of nylon generates several toxic by-products. Definitely a material to avoid.
3. Lycra-spandex: Spandex is a polyurthethane fabric (yet another petroleum by-product) often used to add “stretch” to fabrics. By nature, spandex has a high carbon footprint, so if you must buy stretchy fabrics, look for those with the lowest percentage of spandex possible.
1. Organic cotton: organic cotton is non-GMO and grown without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals. As of 2007, worldwide production was growing as a rate of 50% a year! Organic cotton is versatile, soft and comfortable.
2. Organic hemp: hemp is one of the world’s most beneficial agricultural crops, providing food, clothing, shelter and medicine. Organic hemp clothing is soft and durable.
3. Bamboo fabric: bamboo grows fast and can be farmed without pesticides or chemical additives. It’s also 100% biodegradable! Yay! With its silky feel and natural moisture-wicking abilities, bamboo fabric is quickly becoming one of the most popular options for eco-friendly clothing.