Organic clothing is not so much making a comeback as it is breaking new ground in the realm of environmental responsibility. Before there were chemical pesticides and fertilisers and all the other modern technological advancements in farming and agriculture, the problems of pollution in the soil, water and air were not a worry for most people. Now, however, the general attitude is changing, and there are strict standards that must be met before a product can be labelled ‘Organic’.
Cotton, for instance, is usually grown using an intensive amount of pesticides and genetically modified (GM) seeds; it accounts for nearly a third of the pesticides used in the entire world, and more than 40% is grown from GM seeds. To rate as Organic, cotton must be grown from non-GM seeds and without the use of pesticides, and to date only a very small percentage meets that criteria.
The same is basically true of wool; most wool-producing sheep are treated regularly with insecticides/pesticides, and the wool is further treated with various chemicals to clean and process it before it’s a finished product. Organic wool must be produced without pesticides and other chemicals, and the sheep must be allowed to graze freely in an unpolluted environment.
Like cotton, the dyes used on wool must be ‘low impact’ with no heavy metals and processing methods must be eco-friendly in terms of pollutants. In this respect, babies and anyone with sensitive skin can benefit from Organic clothing. As much as 65% of cotton production also ends up in the food chain via cottonseed oil used in many prepared foods and in animal feed – another excellent incentive for organic farming in this case.
In recent years the trend towards organic clothing has led to re-discovery of some valuable resources. Bamboo, for example, is starting what Le Monde in Paris calls a textile revolution. Its remarkable properties of comfort, durability and sustainability are enough to get anyone’s attention. Bamboo is even more environmentally friendly than organic cotton, and much cheaper to produce. Linen and hemp are also in the lineup as resources that have been overlooked or misunderstood.