Remember leisure suits, disco, and the height of polyester? Those days have faded although the synthetic fabrics will still be unchanged and haunting our nation's landfills for generations. As the public’s awareness of health and consciousness has grown, cotton and natural fibers replaced polyester and other synthetic fibers as the fabric of choice. Just as concern over the harmful effects of insecticides and pesticides in our food supply has given rise to the demand for organic produce and vegetables, concern over the high use of insecticides and pesticides in growing cotton and other natural fibers has given rise to demand for organic cottons and garments free of these and other poisons and carcinogens.
Cotton is a marvelous fiber for clothes but the way most cottons are grown raises serious health issues. Are you aware that:
- Conventionally grown cotton accounts for more than 25% of worldwide insecticide use and 10% of the pesticides. Pesticides used on cotton are among the most hazardous. In California, five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are cancer causing.
- Children are at greater risk for pesticide-related health problems than adults. Millions of children in the US receive up to 35% of their estimated lifetime dose of some carcinogenic pesticides by age five through food, contaminated drinking water, household use, and pesticide drift.
- It takes one pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to conventionally grow the three pounds of cotton needed to make a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
- Farm workers working in conventionally grown cotton fields in the US and around the world suffer from an abundance of toxic exposures and related health problems. Pesticides used on cotton cause acute poisonings and chronic illness to farm workers worldwide. Acute respiratory symptoms and other health effects in communities surrounding cotton farms are correlated with high use of defoliation chemicals.
Organic cotton is an imperative for ourselves and our world. Besides the quality-of-life benefits from organic cotton, the quality of clothing produced from organic cotton is also substantially higher. Organic cotton plants produce longer-stable cotton fibers which yield stronger yarn and more durable fabrics. Pesticide-free long-stable cotton also feels softer and more breathable and luxurious against the skin.
But organic cotton is not the only healthy fabric. Hemp has many excellent properties and is being found more and more in quality garments. Hemp is the most environmentally positive crop, actually improving the condition of the soil. It requires no herbicides and is naturally resistant to insects, fungus, and other pests.
The rate of people experiencing a wide barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems, and difficulties focusing mentally due to chemical sensitivities has been growing alarmingly. Many people diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities find organic clothing to be essential in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly exposed to every day. You wouldn’t eat a bowl of pesticides drenched in insecticides. So why would you want to cover yourself in clothes doused in chemicals?
There is another reason why people are becoming excited about organic clothing and that is because of the fashions that are starting to come from some of the hot, new designers turning to eco-fashion. In future blogs, we will be interviewing some of the designers behind the cool eco-fashions.