Guide to Organic Fabrics – What Are Your Clothes Made Of?
With modern research, people have become aware of the dangers that certain chemicals possess. A lot of the chemicals that have been found unsafe are used in insecticides and pesticides. Insecticides and pesticides are found not only on fruits and vegetables, but also in many synthetic and even natural fabrics that are grown through traditional farming. The best way to avoid these dangerous chemicals is to use organic products.
What is Organic?
Organic essentially means that everything used to grow or create a product, from beginning to finish, is made of all natural, non-synthetic materials. The plants that are used in the products must not be genetically altered or treated with chemical insecticides or pesticides. Anything that is labeled as organic, whether food, organic fabric or household materials, must meet each standard in a strict set of guidelines. The organic guidelines were created and put in place by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards to ensure that products labeled as 'organic' actually are made of all natural, biodegradable materials. Any product that meets the organic standards of the USDA, which ensures that at least 95% of the product is organic, will be given a USDA Organic Seal on the packaging of the product. This is the only way to be sure that a product has not been exposed to harmful chemicals.
- Natural Living ~ Organic Food Co-op, Natural Health & More
- Definition of Organic
- About Organic Produce
- Consumer and Labeling FAQ's: What is Organic?
- National Organic Program
What Makes Fabric Organic?
To be classified as an organic fabric, fabrics must meet the organic standards of the United States Department of Agriculture. Plants used in the fabrics must be grown in an organic agricultural farming setting, meaning that no harsh pesticides or insecticides were used during any growth process. After the plants used to create the fibers of the fabric are grown naturally, they must remain natural. The fibers cannot be dyed with chemicals or other by-products that endanger health or the environment. If the fabric is made from animal, such as with wool, the animals cannot be given large doses of steroids, insecticides or antibiotics. Organic fibers and fabrics that are made with all-natural products will degrade naturally over time without harming the environment whereas synthetic and chemically treated fabrics will release toxins into the air as they degrade.
- Organic Ecology
- Future of Fashion Fabrics
- What is Organic Agriculture?
- Values & Ethics of Organic Farming
- Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) Certified Product List
Why Use Organic Fabrics?
Many people often question why anyone would wish to use organic fabrics, while there are many reasons to make the switch, the two largest reasons are due to the benefits of organic fabrics to the environment and to human health. Synthetic materials do not simply degrade back into the earth as natural products do, which means that little by little, every chemical that is placed into nature as waste, is destroying the environment. The organic farming method used to create organic materials requires approximately fifty percent less energy than regular farming methods and also does not put harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Approximately fifty-five million pounds of pesticides are used on a mere 12 million acres of cotton each year. In fact, that adds up to be around twenty five percent of the entire world's insecticides and ten percent of the world's pesticides. With so much chemical being added into cotton and other crops used to produce fabric, it is no wonder that seven out of the top fifteen most popular pesticides have been labeled as "possible", "known" or "likely" to be associated with risks of cancer. This risk applies to everyone, along with the risk of headaches, fatigue and asthma in adults. Children have also been found to react negatively to chemical pesticides in many of the same ways, as well as being born with birth defects, suffering from memory loss and even emotional mood swings. The use of organic farming and organic fabric limits the amount of exposure to not only humans, but the earth and all of its animals as well.
- Organic and Sustainable Living
- Organic Materials Management Resources
- Why Organic?
- Organic Matter Management- Soil Scientist
- (PDF)Reducing Pesticide Exposure in Children and Pregnant Women
- Pesticide Effects on Wildlife
Types of Organic Fabrics
By far the most popular type of organic fabric is organic cotton fabric. Organic cotton fabric is used in a wide variety of clothing, but has especially become popular for use in the production of the popular organic t shirt. The organic t shirt has gained popularity in recent years due to the environmental friendless of the fabric as well as the comfort that is found in a basic organic t shirt. Organic cotton has also become popular for use in sanitary products, stationary, towels and sheets, cotton swabs and even baby diapers. Organic wool, silk and bamboo are also turned into fabrics that are popularly used in making fashionable organic apparel. One of the most highly debated types of organic fiber used for the manufacturing of organic fabric is hemp. Hemp is made from the same plant as marijuana which is popular for its recreational drug use. Though hemp is made from a marijuana plant, the hemp used in organic fabric comes from a different strain than the recreational drug. Due to the association with the drug, however, hemp is illegal in the United States. It is commonly grown and harvested in other countries such as China, Europe, Russia and even our neighboring country of Canada for use as organic apparel Hemp, much like organic cotton fabric, is very versatile and environmentally friendly.