Organic clothing is one way to live a “greener” lifestyle that supports the environment.
If you have skin sensitivities, the pesticides, herbicides, chemicals and artificial dyes present in regular cotton can aggravate dermatological conditions. On the other hand, organic fibers are hypoallergenic and free of chemicals or pollutants. Clothing made from the bamboo plant is antimicrobial, which means that it naturally kills bacteria. This is in contrast to regularly grown cotton, which continues to release pollutants such as carbon dioxide after it is crafted into a cotton T-shirt and worn by the unsuspecting consumer.
Reducing Toxic Chemicals
According to Planet Forward, the estimated amount of herbicides and pesticides used in traditional cotton farming is 25 percent of all global use. Five pesticides, including cyanide and propargite, are classified as carcinogenic substances by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is dangerous, because not only do these chemicals soak into the fibers and end up in your clothes and bedsheets, but also the chemical runoff saturates the ground and ends up in your food, drinking water and the air you breathe. Organic materials are grown toxin-free, reducing the amount of toxic chemicals we ingest and release into the earth.
Clothes made from organic fibers are surprisingly durable. A regular cotton T-shirt lasts for approximately 10 to 20 machine wash cycles, before the fibers within the material begin to break apart. Clothes made from materials such as bamboo or organic cotton last for more than 100 machine washes, before the fibers begin to break apart. Hemp clothing, made from one of nature’s most durable materials, lasts for decades and is more porous than cotton. This means that clothing made from hemp is easier to dye and is naturally fade-resistant. Clothes that last longer and keep their color longer are more economical, because they don’t have to be replaced as often.
Traditionally grown cotton is heavily processed after it is harvested. During the crafting stage, the cotton is stripped of its natural waxes, and synthetic wax is added, along with soil and flame retardants, bleaches, chemical softeners and at the end, a formaldehyde spray. Organic cotton, on the other hand, retains its natural wax and therefore its characteristic shine, weight and smoothness. Hemp has been used to make clothing for thousands of years and is now being rediscovered, because the material is antimicrobial and mold resistant, blocks UV and UVB rays and helps keep moisture away from the skin. These qualities have led many people to believe that organic fabrics are superior in quality to synthetic fabrics.
Supporting Environmental Principles
The environmental principles of fair trade are embodied in fair trade practices such as providing safe work environments, developing responsible trade relations, creating equal employment opportunities and positively impacting communities. With traditional cotton farming, the sheer amount of chemicals used in the process makes the working environment unsafe for employees and pollutes neighboring communities. This is one of the greatest benefits of organic clothing, because the growing process is nontoxic for both employees and locals, which supports many of the fair trade or environmental principles.
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