When you think of nixing pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers from your home, you probably consider your pantry and refrigerator first—not your closet. But organic fabric sales are on the rise, and according to the International Trade Administration, it’s the baby clothes and children’s linens leading the way.
So what are organic clothes? Should you be buying them over their conventional counterparts? First, you’ll need a proper introduction to these green threads.
Organic Clothing: What It Is, What It Isn’t
Organic fibers are naturally produced by farmers who opt for crop rotation, composting, and natural nitrogen sources to yield their cotton, as opposed to synthetic chemicals. With respect to the environment, this is a big statement; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests a quarter of all pesticides used in the U.S. are applied to cotton.
Organic cotton is the basis of many products, not just clothing. You’ve recently been able to find organic fibers in sanitary products, ear swabs, cotton balls, diapers, toys, mattresses, and more, as observed by the Organic Trade Association.
To Buy or Not to Buy
That is the question. You’re glad the industry is growing, but still aren’t sure whether to make the switch to organic fibers for yourself. Should you be buying organic clothes, diapers, bedding, or toys?
It depends. Here are three ways organic threads may align with what matters most to you.
Good for the Environment
The fact that a quarter of the world’s chemical pesticides are used on conventional cotton crops is troublesome enough. It’s even harder to believe only 3 percent of the world’s farmland is used for cotton. So although 25 percent of the world’s chemicals are being used on a small sliver of a crop, that crop ends up in constant contact with our skin.
Not only do organics exclude toxic chemicals, but according to the Global Organic Textile Standards Criteria, they also require farmers to record how much energy and water they consume in production. Further, waste water can’t just be tossed at a whim. Producers must prove they’re disposing of it in a functional treatment plant.
Good for your Health
In the year 2000, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified half of the top fifteen pesticides on cotton as either “known” human carcinogens or, at best, “possible,” “likely,” or “probable.” In the pursuit of a clean lifestyle, opting for organic threads means you’re keeping yourself and your kids far away from these tested cancer-causers.
You don’t need to have sensitive skin to feel the difference in organic fibers, either. If you have small children, they may not be able to express their discomfort with rough, synthetic clothing. Most conventional clothes don’t breathe as easily as does organic cotton, so moisture and additives can become trapped against a baby’s skin, causing irritation.
Good for Humans
Best of all, you’ll be able to sleep on your organic mattress or in your organic pajamas, knowing the team of people who manufactured these goods were paid a livable wage, offered the chance to collectively bargain, and given safe and clean working conditions. If that weren’t enough, you know beyond any doubt that no children had to work for your new purchase, and that those who labored to fabricate organic products are protected against discrimination.
My family is slowly making the switch. If you’re like me, and the price of organic clothing and bedding keeps you hesitant, remember the longevity in your investment. Organic items tend to last much longer because the fibers haven’t been stressed with chlorine bleach, dying, scouring, or other processing. There’s a long life ahead of organic clothing, so the cost is well worth the value.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.