In a recent post we explained the detrimental effects of inorganic apparel (which unfortunately represents the majority of the textile industry). You will find here all the fabric alternatives that can truly make a difference for both your health and our cherished planet when produced organically:
More than 25 percent of the world’s pesticides are used in conventional cotton production according to Eco Watch. In contrast, organic cotton is grown without toxic and synthetic chemical input. In addition, recently, it has also been suggested that organic cotton farming uses less water after two to three years or via crop rotation. This is because the soil, once rich in nutrients, is better able to hold water. It is important to also look for natural dyes or colored cotton to further reduce the amount of chemicals dumped into our ecosystem. Although less than one percent of cotton grown in 2013 was organic, global organic cotton production has grown 600 percent over the past decade, and as consumer demand increases, production is expected to follow.
Dubbed the longest and strongest fibers of any textile, hemp is also rapidly renewable, grows quickly, is naturally pest-resistant, grows without fertilizer, requires minimum attention, doesn’t deplete soil nutrients, and is easy to harvest. Even though it doesn’t require heavy use of chemicals, it’s best to purchase fabric with a certified organic label to ensure it’s toxin-free. It’s sourced mostly in Asia, Canada, and Europe, though, since growing hemp in the U.S. has been banned in most states since the 1950s (it’s the same species as the marijuana plant). This may begin to change, however, with the legalization of marijuana in an increasing number of states.
Very ‘in’ right now (midline retailers, like Bed, Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Uniqlo, have jumped on the trend), Tencel is made from natural cellulose wood pulp and is fully biodegradable. It uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp and less-toxic chemicals in a closed-loop process, in which “99% of the chemicals and solvents used in the process to break down the wood pulp are recovered and recycled with minimal waste and very low emissions,” Adheer Bahulkar, a partner at global retail-consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told Business Insider. The process received the European Award for the Environment from the EU. Tencel is also made from eucalyptus trees, which don’t require pesticides or irrigation, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council. The organization, however, also notes that wood pulp is often sourced from forests underneath an umbrella environmental organization that doesn’t hold cutters to very high standards.
“99% of the chemicals and solvents used in the process to break down the wood pulp are recovered and recycled with minimal waste and very low emissions,”
Long loved for its moisture-wicking properties, Wool is also renewable, fire-resistant and doesn’t necessarily need chemical inputs. Made from sheared sheep fleece, industrially produced wool is often dipped in pesticides to remove critters like ticks, lice, and mites before being spun into cloth. After it’s spun, conventional wool is sometimes treated with mothproofing insecticides. Certified organic wool producers, on the other hand, do not use any chemical pesticides or insecticides. Organic producers must follow the same standards set for USDA organic dairy, meat, and other animal fiber products, including limitations on the number of sheep they can raise to prevent land degradation from overgrazing. Look for chlorine-free wool from humanely-treated animals. Organic wool is increasingly becoming available.