Organic clothing: Why it matters

organic baby clothes and organic children clothes

On the photo: Organic wool fleece jacket from Engel, organic wool overalls from Disana

I started writing this blog post several times, but always ended up tossing the draft away. It is such an immense and important subject that I found it difficult to make the post informative and useful without turning it into a long and boring doctorate essay :). So here I’m trying again and I thought first just to give a short version:

Reasons to go organic (short version)

  1. Health

    Some of the chemicals used in treating clothes and home wares are really and truly bad, yet present even in baby PJs, mattresses and sofas. According to EWG:
    “Children’s developing brains and reproductive systems are extraordinarily vulnerable to toxic chemicals. In the case of PBDEs, laboratory tests in peer-reviewed studies have found that a dose administered to mice on a single day when the brain is growing rapidly can cause permanent changes to behavior, including hyperactivity. Children’s bodies may not metabolize and excrete toxic chemicals as readily as adults.” Take a look at this and this articles.

  2. Significant environmental impact

    Conventional textile industry is often considered only second to Big Oil when it comes to environmental pollution, accounting for 25% use of pesticides worldwide and poisoning rivers with chemical run offs.

  3. Communities and workers wellbeing

    Working with toxic substances affect the health of workers, and toxic run offs poisons waterways for communities. Further more, GOTS (Global Organic Standard) certified companies must meet a number of labor standards ensuring no child labor, descent work environment and schedules and more.

  4. Supporting responsible businesses

    Your purchase will support a responsible business that treats our planet and workers well and cares for our well being.

In closing of this short version, I just wanted to add that not all ‘organic’ means toxin free and not all of it guarantees responsible environmental practices and fair trade worker conditions. The best certification to look for is GOTS or OEKO-TEX (especially on synthetic fibers). Take a look at this great little video from the GOTS standard.

And here is the looong version, but with lots of great information!

The long-ish version why to go organic

    • Health

      Lets look at the fabric manufacturing process from the start of it. Cotton. The cotton crops are heavily dosed with pesticides, herbicides, and any other ..cides. On the next step of turning cotton puff into textile the little puffs are subjected to further treatment by very harsh chemicals. Many of these chemicals and dies contain heavy metals, formaldehyde and such – all and all the type of chemicals none of us needs to be in skin-close contact with, much more so our precious little children. Additionally, in the US, many children items are further treated with flame retardants, which are know to be very very toxic.

      I’m not a scientist and can’t tell how much of those chemicals stay in the fibers and how much gets washed out, but given a choice I’d rather have my baby (and whole family) wear clothes that did not come from pesticide-infused plants.

      Also, if we consider that during first many months babies put everything in their mouth and keep it there for some time :))) it really makes best sense to surround them with safe textiles free of toxic pesticides and dies.

    • Environmental impact

      “The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil…It’s a really nasty business … it’s a mess.” — Eileen Fisher

      According to Coyuchi 25 % of all pesticides used worldwide are used on conventional cotton. Aside from the use of pesticides the conventional cotton production consumes more water, causes soil erosion and degradation and puts a tremendous amount of toxins out into the environment, poisoning rivers, polluting air and ruining soil.

      This is just cotton. Synthetic fibers have their own dirty story. And likewise output a lot of toxic waste into the water, air and soil surrounding the manufacturing facilities.

      Here are two great articles giving further insight on the tremendous impact textile industry has environmentally — here and here. And here is a great article from the Guardian on Greenpeace’s investigation of the textile industry in China, as just one example.

      And as picture worth a million words I put together a small pinterest board to show just some of the pollution caused by the textile industry.

    • Workers well-being

      Sadly conventional textile manufacturing often takes place in environment with little or no respect to worker’s safety and health, less so life quality. Choosing GOTS certified brands insures no child labor, no forced labor, reasonable work schedule among many other standards that you can read about here.
    • Support responsible businesses

      Responsible practices are generally more costly due to the expenses associated with proper waste desposal, better operation facilities and higher employee wages. This results in higher prices compare to cost of the mass-produced stuff that comes out like and avalanche from the miserable sweatshops all across Asia and South America. But do we really need that much stuff? A good quality clothing can last a long time with proper care. Save up and buy few items that will make a difference for you, your family and the family of people who made it for you. 🙂

Where to get organic GOTS certified clothing

Although not always easily found through internet search there are actually many fantastic online stores selling GOTS certified clothing for babies and children. But to give justice to these beautiful brands and stores where you can get them I feel this topic deserves its own post. 🙂 So stay tuned.

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