Posts

Weaving Success Through Organic Cotton

In India, there is an urgent need for a shift towards ecologically and financially sustainable cotton

Author: Anita Chester | Published: June 25, 2018

India is the largest producer of cotton and the crop is of significant importance to the economy. Closely woven into the cotton story is the fate of over 6 million small and marginal farmers who plant this crop annually.

However, today, we have reached a point of inflection. The so-called successes of past decades heralded by the hasty adoption of transgenic Bt technology are being eclipsed by the recurrence of pest attacks, worsened by unsustainable land and water use. The growing resistance to pests, such as the pink bollworm, and an alarming rise of secondary pests, suggests that there has been an increase of pesticide use.

Other factors like erratic rainfall, poor extension services, dubious seed quality and lack of credit at reasonable rates, aggravate and worsen the situation for farmers who are not able to cover the increasing costs of production. Poor returns and debt cycles are thus driving cotton farmers to despair, and at times, death.

KEEP READING ON THE HINDU

Dirt Shirts and SITO: Promoting Organic Apparel and Eco-Friendly Fashion

Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola | Published: December 12, 2017

When was the last time you considered what your clothes were made of? If you’re like most people, you may not realize how important organic clothing is, or why. In this interview, Marci Zaroff,1 founder of the first organically certified textile mill in the U.S., will help enlighten us about the merits of organic fashion.

Her facility is certified to the most prestigious organic certification, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and Marci, known in the fashion industry as an “ecopreneur” and “green fashionista,” has played a major role in promoting ecologically-friendly clothing that is anything but drab. In fact, Marci was the one who coined the term “eco-fashion.”

She’s been working as a consultant for us for several years now, helping us create our own line of GOTS certified organic cotton mattresses, organic bed sheets and towels. The issue of organic clothing was something I neglected for years, but after gaining an understanding of the global implications of how fabrics and dyes are made, I felt compelled to take action.

I am very proud to support the organic cotton farmers by adding a full line of high-quality organic clothing to my online shop. These products are very durable and built to last, while remaining extremely soft to the touch. Organic clothing can vary in quality as some products are quite thin and can wear out quickly. These products are made to last to stop the destructive cycle of fast fashion.

You can now find everything from socks and underwear to men’s, women’s and kids’ organic, GOTS-certified T-shirts. The Dirt Shirts are made from cotton grown in Texas and manufactured in North Caroline and Virginia. I will be donating profits from these Dirt Shirts to the Organic Consumers Association to develop projects supporting regenerative agriculture, such as regeneratively produced wool and cotton.

I am personally wearing GOTS certified organic clothing whenever possible, and without any unnatural dyes, as described in my interview with Rebecca Burgess. I know this may be a challenge for many, but the simple first step you can take is making sure your underwear is organic GOTS certified and free of chemical dyes, which is why I am so excited to have the opportunity to use this as my primary underwear.

Fast Fashion Versus Eco-Fashion

In a world of “fast fashion,” where garments are increasingly being treated as single-use items and styles change faster than the seasons, Marci’s ideology is to fashion what the slow-food movement is to food.

“[F]ast fashion has … proliferated to the point where 20 percent of the world’s fresh water pollution is coming from the fashion industry. The fashion industry is actually the second largest polluter in the world …

While people think ‘cheaper, faster, more’ is a good thing, where there’s 52 seasons a year and lots of choice, at what expense does that come? Well, serious human and environmental impacts come from that. Ten percent of the world’s carbon impact and 3 trillion gallons of fresh water are being used each year for fashion. Then there are the social ramifications,” Marci says.

Marci has been in this business since the 1990s. With a background in food and beauty, she was able to connect the dots and translate everything she’d learned about food and beauty to fashion, textiles and fiber.

“I saw fashion as a very significant vehicle for transformation, because people love fashion. It’s a powerful vehicle … I started a brand in 1995 called Under the Canopy, which was the first organic fashion and home lifestyle brand.

We went direct to consumer for eight years while I was raising my kids, and then launched as the category captain for Whole Foods markets, a 2,000-square foot Under the Canopy store-in-store, and grew that significantly through the years, [to] where we launched the first organic textiles for Target, Macy’s and a number of other retailers.”

But Marci’s vision kept growing. Ultimately, she realized she wanted to be a solution provider and create a way to make sustainable and organic fashion easy for other brands and retailers. She envisioned creating a platform others could confidently use. And that’s what she has created — a fully transparent and traceable supply chain for organic cotton apparel, accessories and home textiles.

From Degeneration to Regeneration

In the video, you’ll see both Marci and I are wearing our “Dirt Shirts,” made from 100 percent organically grown cotton. Notice this is not just 100 percent cotton, a virtually meaningless label. It’s 100 percent ORGANIC cotton. These T-shirts are made from organic cotton grown in Texas by an incredible organic cotton farmer co-op, and all of the manufacturing takes place in the U.S. If you’ve never had the opportunity to wear one, I can tell you it’s the softest material imaginable, almost like cashmere.

Best of all, it’s sustainable, and contributes to the regeneration rather than the degeneration of our environment. These shirts are now available for purchase, and all Dirt Shirt proceeds will be donated to an educational project to expand awareness of the benefits of organic cotton.

“It’s amazing to be a part of the solution. Conventional agriculture has gotten out of control. Cotton farmers, domestically and abroad, are really struggling in the cotton industry from the overuse of chemicals in their farming methods and how expensive those methods have become,” Marci says.

“Ultimately, it’s very hard for those farmers to sustain their livelihoods, not to mention the fact that cotton represents less than 3 percent of the world’s agriculture but uses somewhere around 20 percent of the most harmful insecticides, and up to 10 percent of the most toxic pesticides. Over 90 percent of cotton is currently genetically modified.

When you look at organic T-shirts and organic clothing, to me it has always been about no compromise, breaking the stigma that you have to give up style, quality, fit, color, comfort — which you don’t. On the contrary, when you feel how pure this is and how soft it is, it’s because chemicals haven’t broken down the fibers. Secondly, you can be really smart in how you source …

A typical garment in a supply chain can change hands seven to 10 times. When I started my first company in organic clothing, I went straight to the farmers. There was no supply chain. I had to build [that] up, which meant I could be more efficient, I could cut out a lot of those markups and middlemen, and add value to the product and ultimately offer a product that is not less, it’s more.”

KEEP READING ON MERCOLA.COM

OCA and the True Potential of Organic Cotton

Published: August 8, 2017 

A prosperous organic cotton sector benefits everyone—from farmer to consumer. To realize the sector’s potential, we need to bring about the conditions that will allow the crop that safeguards the environment and enhances farmer livelihoods to flourish. 

The issue as to whether growing organic cotton produces lower yields is a hot topic. Clarity on this issue is important for understanding how far the lower social and environmental costs of organic cotton production are realized in practice.

To understand this issue, it is helpful to distinguish between organic cotton farming’s potential and what still needs to be done to fully realize that potential. Worldwide, organic cotton yield figures are highly variable. Organic cotton fiber yields reach up to 1,687 kg per hectare in Turkey, but just 508 kg per hectare in India, the world’s largest producer of organic cotton. Reaching the higher end of this yield spectrum is possible if the right enabling conditions are in place.

This is where the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) comes in.  OCA partners have joined forces to solve the sector’s problems and ensure the yields and benefits of organic cotton reach their full potential. OCA partners are piloting interventions designed to improve the organic cotton farmer business case, increase transparency in the supply chain, and secure availability and access to quality, high-yielding organic seed varieties. OCA plans to scale these interventions to ensure the environmental, economic and social benefits of organic cotton are fully maximized.

KEEP READING ON ECOFASHION WORLD 

Toxic Clothing Affects Everyone

Author: Dr. Mercola | Published: June 27, 2017 

In September 2016, American Airlines rolled out new uniforms for more than 70,000 employees — the first uniform overhaul in 30 years. Soon after, reports started coming in from about 100 pilots and 3,000 flight attendants that the uniforms were making them sick. A variety of symptoms were reported (some occurring only while the personnel were wearing the uniforms), such as rashes, itching, eye swelling and a general feeling of malaise.1

Twin Hill, a unit of Tailored Brands Inc., which supplied the uniforms, has conducted testing, with nothing suspicious showing up that may cause the symptoms, and so far American Airlines has not recalled the uniforms, although they’ve given some employees alternative pieces and allowed them to wear their old uniforms while the matter is sorted out.2 While this may seem like an unusual story, it’s not unheard of for clothing to make people sick.

In fact, the average piece of clothing not only may be made from potentially allergenic materials (like latex, Lycra or spandex) but also may be contaminated with a variety of chemicals used during the manufacturing process.

The clothing industry is actually one of the most polluting industries on the planet, and the textiles they produce may be laced with irritants and disease-causing chemicals, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to wash new clothes before wearing them. Even then, however, it may not make the clothing entirely safe.

What Kinds of Chemicals Are in Your Clothes?

Depending on where your new clothes were manufactured, they may contain multiple chemicals of concern. Among them are azo-aniline dyes, which may cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe. If you’re sensitive, such dyes may leave your skin red, itchy and dry, especially where the fabric rubs on your skin, such as at your waist, neck, armpits and thighs. The irritants can be mostly washed out, but it might take multiple washings to do so.

Formaldehyde resins are also used in clothing to cut down on wrinkling and mildew. Not only is formaldehyde a known carcinogen, but the resins have been linked to eczema and may cause your skin to become flaky or erupt in a rash.3 Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), meanwhile, is a toxic endocrine-disrupting surfactant used to manufacture clothing.

You certainly don’t want to be exposed to NPE if you can help it, but when consumers wash their clothes, NPEs are released into local water supplies where wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove them. When NPEs enter the environment, they break down into nonylphenol (NP), a toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemical that accumulates in sediments and builds up in fish and wildlife. In an interview with “clean-fashion pioneer” Marci Zaroff, Goop outlined some of the common chemicals likely to be found in your clothing:4

Glyphosate, the most-used agricultural chemical, is an herbicide used to grow cotton. It’s linked to cancer and found in cotton textiles.
Chlorine bleach, used for whitening and stain removal, may cause asthma and respiratory problems and is found in fiber/cotton processing, including in denim.
Formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic, is used to create wrinkle-free clothing as well as for shrinkage and as a carrier for dyes and prints. It’s common in cotton and other natural fabrics, including anything that’s been dyed or printed.
VOCs, solvents used for printing and other purposes, are common in finished textiles, especially those with prints. VOCs may off-gas from clothing, posing risks such as developmental and reproductive damage, liver problems and in some cases cancer, particularly to workers.
PFCs, used widely in uniforms and outdoor clothing to create stain-repellant and water-resistant fabrics, are carcinogenic, build up in your body and are toxic to the environment.
Brominated flame retardants, used to stop clothes from burning (although this is questionable), may be found in children’s clothing. These chemicals are neurotoxic endocrine disrupters that may also cause cancer.
Ammonia, used to provide shrink resistance, is found in natural fabrics. It may be absorbed into your lungs and cause burning in your eyes, nose or throat.
Heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, chromium and others, may be used for leather tanning and dyeing. They’re highly toxic and may be found in finished textiles, especially those that are dyed or printed.
Phthalates/Plastisol, used in printing inks and other processes, are known endocrine disrupters.

Clothing Chemicals Are Largely Unregulated

You may assume that if you’re purchasing clothing in the U.S., it’s safe and free from toxins, but this isn’t typically the case. Zaroff told Goop:5

“The magnitude and multitude of toxic chemicals in the fashion and textile industries is out of control. Even though some carcinogens are regulated (for example, formaldehyde, linked to cancer, is regulated in the U.S.), most brands are still manufactured overseas, where regulation is far behind. And only the most toxic chemicals are regulated in the U.S., which means there are a huge number that are unregulated but likely to cause allergic reactions.”

This is an issue both for the people who wear the clothes as well as the environment. Textile dyeing facilities, for example, tend to be located in developing countries where regulations are lax and labor costs are low. Untreated or minimally treated wastewater is typically discharged into nearby rivers, from where it spreads into seas and oceans, traveling across the globe with the currents.

An estimated 40 percent of textile chemicals are discharged by China.6 According to Ecowatch, Indonesia is also struggling with the chemical fallout of the garment industry. The Citarum River is now one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the world, thanks to the congregation of hundreds of textile factories along its shorelines. Clothing designer Eileen Fisher even called the clothing industry the “second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil.”7

Leading Clothing Companies Commit to Using Sustainable Cotton by 2025

Genetically engineered (GE) cotton is widely used in the clothing industry, but while it maintains a natural image, it’s among the dirtiest crops in the world because of heavy use of toxic pesticides. It also takes a heavy toll on local water supplies, as hundreds of liters of water may be necessary to produce enough cotton to make one T-shirt.8

Prince Charles is among those who has voiced his support for more sustainable cotton production, noting that cotton production is “all too often associated with the depletion of local water supplies and the widespread, and sometimes indiscriminate, use of harmful pesticides [that] can take a heavy toll on human health.”9

Fortunately, earlier this year 13 clothing and textile companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Eileen Fisher, Nike, Woolworths Holdings and Sainsbury’s, signed the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which commits to using 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025. Worldwide, more than 20 million tons of cotton are produced annually in more than 100 countries.10 The 13 companies that signed the sustainable cotton initiative account for 300,000 tons of cotton each year.11

KEEP READING ON MERCOLA.COM

What You Wear Matters! Quick Guide to Organic Cotton

Published: June 23, 2017 

Press Release

CONTACT: Donna Worley Director of Marketing Communications and Public Relations +1.806.577.0652 (U.S. Central) Donna@TextileExchange.org Textile Exchange, publisher of the Organic Cotton Market Report, releases Quick Guide to Organic Cotton, an overview of the positive impacts of organic cotton, including frequently asked questions and supporting facts that indicate organic cotton is the preferred fiber choice compared to its chemically produced counterpart. “The Quick Guide to Organic Cotton, highlights the benefit of organic production as a pathway to restorative, resilient and regenerative landscapes and communities,” notes La Rhea Pepper, the Managing Director of Textile Exchange. “Cotton production has evolved over the last 15 years,” Pepper said, and “greater awareness of the health, economic and environmental benefits of organic farming practices by farmers and buyers has influenced corresponding improvements in many cotton production systems, including the input intensive practices of chemically grown cotton.” According to its Preferred Fiber and Materials Market Report, Textile Exchange reports that adoption of preferred cotton production methods has grown to 8.6% of the cotton market but organic cotton, in general, continues to have the lowest environmental impacts. Textile Exchange’s Quick Guide to Organic Cotton includes the latest research from expert sources to create a comprehensive resource for the industry and media. The current research work reveals three top reasons to support the expansion of organic cotton agriculture:

  1. The Health and Environmental Impacts of Pesticides Must Be Acknowledged in a Comparison of Organic and Chemically Grown Cotton Production.

According to the USDA’s National Organic Program, organic farming is defined as: “the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.” Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or fertilizers while chemical cotton is dependent on both. According to the Pesticide Action Network UK, “cotton crops cover 2.4% of the world’s cultivated land but use 6% of the world’s pesticides, more than any other single major crop.” There is an overwhelming body of research showing higher incidents of serious diseases and development problems from exposure to agricultural chemicals or physical proximity to chemical-based farming communities. The Agricultural Health Study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is one of the largest ongoing health studies with over 89,000 participants from farming communities and reveals higher incidents of cancer (including prostate cancer), Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, thyroid disease and asthma.

KEEP READING ON TEXTILE EXCHANGE

The Best Organic Cotton Sheets to Keep You Cool All Summer

Author: Rebecca Straus | Published: June 8, 2017 

Conventionally grown cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to its overwhelming use of pesticides. In fact, cotton is responsible for sucking up a whopping sixteen percent of all pesticides used on commercial crops worldwide. That’s obviously terrible for the environment—not to mention our water supply—but it’s also a threat to your health while you sleep if you’re not snuggling up with organic sheets.

(Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our newsletter to get health insights, clever kitchen tricks, gardening secrets, and more—delivered straight to your inbox.)

It turns out that traces of these pesticides have been found on cotton textiles, such as sheets, towels, and clothing, even after washing. That’s bad news considering the World Health Organization calls eight out of the top ten pesticides used on cotton moderately to highly hazardous to human health. (Read up on the thirteen serious health conditions linked to Monsanto’s Roundup.)

Instead of turning your comfy, safe bed into a toxic zone, you can sleep more soundly by switching to organic cotton sheets. Here you’ll find some of our favorite high-quality organic sheet sets that will last you for years to come. Plus, not only are organic bed sheets free from toxins, they’re also made with 100 percent cotton, rather than a mixture of cotton and polyester or rayon, making them breathable and cooling for hot summer nights.

KEEP READING ON RODALE’S ORGANIC LIFE 

Here’s Why Your Next T-shirt Should Be Made of Organic Cotton

Author: Harald Franzen | Published: June 1, 2017 

The T-shirt is quite possibly the most universal piece of clothing. Rebellious teenager to world leader, fashion model to toddler, Mombasa to Managua, T-shirts are gender-neutral and ubiquitous and most of us own tons of them. Classic T-shirts are 100 percent cotton and we have all heard at some point that we should be buying clothing made of organic cotton, but does it really matter? Turns out, it does and here’s why.

Cotton plants are thirsty

Growing cotton requires a lot of water. In fact, the production of one conventional T-shirt gulps up 2700 liters of water. Yes, you read that right, there is no decimal point missing here. And most cotton is grown in places where water is scarce. Now here’s one good reason to buy organic cotton: it requires 91 percent less water than conventional cotton. So if you would like to save theAral Sea, here’s your chance to do something about it.

Toxic stuff
Pesticides are very popular among cotton farmers. So much so that 25 percent of all pesticides used in the world are sprayed on cotton fields. That’s despite the fact that just 2.5 percent of agricultural land is given over to cultivating the plant. Or to get back to our T-shirt: for each one made of conventional cotton, farmers dump about 150 grams of pesticides on their land. Yum!

KEEP READING ON DW.COM

Superlative Alternative: Organic Cotton

Author: Eleanor O’Neill | Published: May 25, 2017 

Today, cotton is the second most used fiber in apparel manufacture, after synthetics.

And I’ve found the subject of organic cotton one of the most frequently discussed when talking about sustainable fashion. Perhaps because it’s an easy concept to understand, in theory, and also because it is now widely accessible.

But what does organic really mean when it comes to cotton?

I’m often asked, what are the environmental benefits of organic vs conventional cotton production? How much more, on average, does a garment made of organic cotton cost? Is there a difference in the way it feels against your skin? And to be frank, there were only a few answers I felt comfortable giving until now. So I decided to dig a little deeper for everyone’s benefit.

Let’s start with a clear and digestible summary of what organic production means.

It is ‘a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.’ It ‘combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.’ (Life Cycle Assessment for Organic Cotton, 2016).

What is organic cotton?

In a nutshell, it’s cotton that is not grown with the aid of chemicals or artificial substances but in a way that gradually and naturally builds soil fertility, and protects biodiversity.

KEEP READING ON THE HUFFINGTON POST

Organic Cotton Market Grows as Consumers Demand Sustainability

Published on: February 14, 2017

With growing concerns over sustainability and pollution globally, more organizations are beginning to turn to organic cotton when manufacturing textiles. Conventional cotton uses a very high amount of dangerous pesticides, and also requires a great deal of water. While organic cotton is more costly, it has a much smaller environmental impact. Additionally, as more people are beginning to factor in sustainability when buying clothing and other products, using organic cotton can give companies an edge over their competitors.

Currently only a small percentage of the global cotton market is organic, as it takes time to convert a traditional farm to an organic one, and production is more expensive. But there are many benefits to producing organic cotton, and not just to the health of the environment. It also impacts the wellbeing of the farmers and other nearby people.

KEEP READING ON BIZVIBE BLOG

You Can Help Save the Environment by Wearing Eco-Conscious Clothing

Author: Fix.com | Published on: March 15, 2017

When you reach into the closet and choose your clothes or scour the racks at your favorite retailer, the choices you make have an impact on the environment.

Jeans manufactured in the USA or made to fair trade standards, organic cotton T-shirts, and sweaters that can be washed in cold water and hung to dry are far gentler on the Earth than clothing manufactured in sweatshops overseas from chemical-laden fabrics.

Opting for a “green” wardrobe means paying close attention to fabrics, countries of origin, and laundering requirements, and considering how to dispose of clothes that are torn or no longer trendy.

The decision to emphasize environmental sustainability in your wardrobe is easier than ever. Here are some tips to get started.

KEEP READING ON THE GOOD MEN PROJECT