Organic clothes, do you know which ones are REALLY organic?
Being eco is increasingly a lifestyle that involves many areas of our daily lives. One of them is the clothes you wear and the fabrics and knits they are made from. It turns out that the clothing industry is at the forefront when it comes to harmful effects on the environment. Want to live in harmony with nature? Organic clothing is an alternative. Which fibres really are eco? What determines this and what properties do they have?
With the rise of conscious lifestyles, organic fibres are becoming increasingly popular. What sets them apart is their production from natural fibres (plant or animal). They are considered to be the best for the skin and the planet. They are characterised by good ventilation, moisture absorption and associated comfort. Many companies and brands claim that their products are eco-friendly. However, as it turns out, they are not always eco. In addition to the natural fibre, the environmental friendliness of a garment also determines whether it is eco-friendly:
- How the plant is grown,
- How animal wool is obtained,
- Specifics of the production of woven and knitted fabrics.
If you care about the fact that the clothing industry has a negative impact on the environment and want to do something to change that, you can buy better quality clothes:
- Those that won’t be ruined after a few washes
- Those made from organic, organically produced fabrics whose production does not pollute the soil, water and air,
- Those that are biodegradable.
To make your choice easier, we present a small overview of them.
Organic fibres and their types
There are more and more organic clothes on the market. The most common materials used to make organic clothes are cotton, wool, linen, silk, bamboo and hemp fabrics. You see most of these on a daily basis, but do you know how they are made? Let’s take a closer look at their production process, their properties and how they affect the environment.
Cotton is the most popular and most chosen knitwear in the world because it is breathable, absorbent and stretchy. You certainly enjoy wearing it. Who among us doesn’t have at least a few t-shirts in their wardrobe? Cotton is comfortable and pleasant to the skin. Unfortunately, the bad news is that cotton does not have a good reputation. Why? There are several reasons:
- Children are reportedly used to grow it, often working in harsh conditions (in the heat, amidst harmful chemicals that cause disease)
- Cotton production uses pesticides and insecticides en masse to increase crop yields. Think about the impact this has on our planet, the environment and our health? Did you know that cotton is still the fourth largest consumer of agricultural chemicals? In turn, the use of chemicals leads to contamination of the soil, air and groundwater from which we all draw. If you wear clothes made from cotton grown in this way your skin is exposed to the harmful effects of the substances with which the plant has been sprayed. This is particularly dangerous for the immature and delicate skin of children.
- Cotton production consumes huge amounts of water. According to the Our Earth Foundation, as much as 2,500 litres of water are needed to produce one T-shirt.¹ In addition, cotton is imported into Europe from distant countries. Its transport generates large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and a huge amount of exhaust fumes from mazut - the toxic fuel oil used by container ships.
An alternative is organic cotton, grown without chemicals. Unfortunately, this too has the disadvantage of transport, high water consumption, low availability and a correspondingly higher price.
Wool is derived from the hair of animals, including sheep, camels, goats and alpacas. All types of wool have good insulation properties, making them pleasantly warm. Unfortunately wool also has disadvantages:
- The shaving process is stressful for animals, and if you’re reading this article, I think their welfare is important to you,
- To get rid of parasites, harmful pesticides are applied directly to the animals' skin (according to a Greenpeace report, these accumulate in the animals' fat, muscles and milk).
Linien is another natural fabric produced in Poland that you are probably familiar with. It does not require transport from other countries, which reduces carbon emissions. Linien can be used whole, so it doesn’t generate waste. It is a very breathable and stretch-resistant fabric. The disadvantages of flax are as follows:
- It creases a lot and needs re-ironing after just one hour, so linen clothes are laborious and time-consuming to care for.
- It tends to shrink in the wash.
- Intense colours fade quickly.
Its fibres are extracted from the cocoons of mulberry or oak silkworm butterflies. Silk is an exquisite fabric, delicate to the touch and has a beautiful sheen. However, it also has the following disadvantages:
- It is very delicate, so it is easily damaged and destroyed,
- It requires special care and delicate treatment (suitable washing detergents, hand washing or silk washing programme)
- It is expensive and perishable
It seems to be the ideal material, soft and pleasant to the touch. It cools pleasantly in summer and warms in winter. It is more absorbent than cotton. Its uncomplicated cultivation does not require the use of fertilisers. Wondering if bamboo fabric has any disadvantages? Unfortunately yes, and one of them is very important for our planet:
- Bamboo wrinkles and creases quickly
- It is more expensive than cotton
- bamboo fabrics and knitwear are made from natural raw material, but for the production of yarn strong chemicals are used, which are harmful for people and the environment. Many bamboo clothing manufacturers unfortunately do not mention this.
Another interesting organic material are the fabrics and knitwear created from hemp, which are free of psychoactive substances in their composition and are biodegradable. Discover the advantages of clothes made from hemp:
- They are pleasant to wear - soft, providing an intriguing "own skin" feeling, so pleasant that advertisements should say "Velvet soft as hemp"
- They absorb water very well, so your body stays dry and you are less prone to any illnesses -Warms you up in winter and cools you down in summer, helping you maintain your natural body temperature
- They have very good insulation and breathability properties, so they prevent sweating
- They are durable - hemp fibre is the most durable in the world - it is used to make ropes and sails, so you can be sure that your hemp clothes will last for decades
- Successive proper washing processes make hemp clothes softer and more gentle on the skin
- They have anti-allergic and antibacterial properties
- The plants take up very few nutrients from the soil during the growing season and their roots aerate the soil
- Hemp decomposes in the soil within a few weeks.
We can say with certainty that fabrics made from hemp are eco because:
- It is harmless to health due to the absence of pesticides, which hemp seed dislikes.
- The production of hemp uses the least amount of water compared to other plants. Cotton, for example, uses four times as much water.
- The cultivation of hemp is much more efficient than other plants (it is three times more efficient than cotton)
You’ll probably ask, do hemp clothing have any drawbacks? Yes, one - it’s the price. Hemp fibre clothes are expensive. However, if you consider their durability and quality, you will come to the conclusion that these clothes are worth the price. The additional benefits if you choose them are as follows:
- You care about the future of the Earth and its inhabitants (your children and grandchildren)
- Buying fewer clothes and reducing the environmental impact of the clothing industry (which is in everyone’s hands!)
- You incur a one-off expense that may be less when you consider the cost of buying clothes from popular shops that don’t last and wear out quickly.
If you are interested in this topic, you can find more information about the performance and use of hemp fibre here.
We are a small family business. We care about the future of the Earth just like you do, so we decided to take action. We have created a collection of clothes made of skin-friendly and biodegradable fabric made from hemp. We help you being eco. Through your conscious choices you have a real impact on the environment. Check out the entire collection of hemp clothing in our shop.
¹ Cottons-chemical-addiction-FINAL-LOW-RES-2017.pdf (pan-uk.org), https://naszaziemia.pl/wiedza/woda-kropla-do-kropli/oszczedzajmy-wode-nie-marnujmy-wody/