Organic clothing

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Organic clothing is clothing made from materials raised in on in or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards.[citation needed] Organic clothing may be composed of cotton, jute, silk, ramie, or wool.[1][unreliable source?] Retailers charge more for organic clothing because the source of the clothing's fiber are free from herbicides, pesticides, or genetically modified seeds.[2][unreliable source?] Textiles do not need to be 100% organic to use the organic label.[3]


Authentic organic fabrics and clothing can help the environment in a number of ways, such as:[4]

  • No synthetic pesticides are used [5]
  • Organic cotton farming produces far less CO2 emissions - Organic farming takes 1.5 tons of CO2 per acre per year are taken out of the atmosphere [5]
  • Organic cotton farming uses up to 60% less water than conventional farming methods [5]
  • Pesticide or herbicide residues are not entered accidentally into the environment
  • Humans and animals are not exposed to chemical pesticides or herbicides
  • When the fabric is discarded, pesticides and herbicides are not returned to the earth in landfill, or enter into recycling process.

Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop.[6][unreliable source?] It can take almost a 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton in the US, and it takes just under one pound of raw cotton to make one t-shirt.[7]


Researchers at Oxford university analyzed 71 peer-reviewed studies.[8] The meta-analysis showed that organic farming requires 84% more land.[9] The researchers concluded that both organic farming and conventional farming are worse for the environment than integrated methods which combine the best of both and new technology.[8][10] With higher productivity less area would be needed for agriculture and more would be sustained for wildlife habitats and forestry.[8]

Many high street retailers, such as H&M, Nike and Walmart market organic clothing ranges that contain chemicals from the dyeing to bleaching process,[citation needed] which is inconsistent with the idea of organic clothing. Many companies sell clothing made from bamboo, which is commonly labeled as "organic", however this is a false statement.[citation needed] Bamboo fabric is typically chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide, in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems.[citation needed] This finished material is similar to rayon and modal, which are more accurate terms of describing bamboo fabrics.[11][unreliable source?] Criticism also concerns the high cost of the products.[12][unreliable source?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Begley, Ed (2008). Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life. Clarkson Potter. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-307-39643-3. 
  2. ^ Plunkett, Jack W. Plunkett's apparel and textiles industry almanac. Plunkett Research Ltd. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-59392-110-1. 
  3. ^ "Policy Memorandum" (PDF). USDA (May 20 2011). Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Martínez-Torres, Maria Elena (2006). Organic coffee: sustainable development by Mayan farmers. Ohio University Press. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0-89680-247-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Minney, S. (2011). Naked Fashion: The new sustainable fashion revolution. New Internationalist Publications
  6. ^ EJF. (2007). The deadly chemicals in cotton. Environmental Justice Foundation in collaboration with Pesticide Action Network UK: London, UK. ISBN No. 1-904523-10-2.
  7. ^ Lauresn, S. E., Hansen, J., Knudsen, H. H., Wenzel, H., Larsen, H. F., & Kristensen, F. M. (2007). EDIPTEX: Environmental assessment of textiles. Danish Environmental Protection Agency, working report 24.
  8. ^ a b c Organic farms not necessarily better for environment, University of Oxford, 04 Sep 12. Archived September 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? - A meta-analysis of European research, H.L. Tuomisto, I.D. Hodge, P. Riordan & D.W. Macdonald, Authors’ version of the paper published in: Journal of Environmental Management 112 (2012) 309-320
  10. ^ Onko luomu oikeasti parempaa?, Helsingin Sanomat 3.2.2013.
  11. ^ "Bamboo: Facts behind the Fiber". 
  12. ^ Schor, Juliet (2003). Sustainable planet: solutions for the twenty-first century. Beacon Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8070-0455-5.