If You are Serious about Organic Clothing…
At some or the other stage of life, we realize the importance of using organic things, and organic clothing offers a new dimension to fashion trends, which we love. But does buying organic clothes end our responsibility? It is seen that more than manufacturing, the way we “use” the clothes is more harmful to the environment. And therefore we should understand not only about the purchasing but also about maintaining our outfits in an organic way, so as to contribute to conservation of the great Mother Nature on our own small level.
It has been proven that in the life of a cotton t-shirt, the “use” phase consumes 50% more energy than all other phases (material, manufacture, transportation and disposal) consume together. You can reduce this amount of energy by adopting some simple tips, like:
- Wash clothes in cold water rather than hot or warm. Washing machines do the job excellently even with cold water.
- Skipping tumble-drying and adopting hang-drying saves 60% of energy used for laundry.
- Make use of phosphate-free detergent to avoid the negative impact of detergents on aquatic life. The phosphate detergents used traditionally cause “dead zones” in the water which means no life can thrive in those zones because of oxygen depletion.
- Front-loading washers remove much more water than top-loading ones, so as to reduce the drying time and in turn saving energy, so prefer them. Similarly in case of dryers, ventless dryers use approximately the same amount of energy as by the new vented dryers, but save energy by way of lower heating/cooling costs.
Instead of throwing the worn out clothes, find a place to recycle them. Many charities accept used clothes. You can also find shops which accept your worn, damaged clothes and sell them to recycle or modify them to create something new. Even you can do that if you have that creative enthusiast inside you.
Cotton, Bamboo or Hemp?
The word “organic” is a little tricky when it comes to clothing. Clothes production includes four main factors – energy (agricultural, mining/processing, production and processing of fabric and end-product and transportation), toxic chemicals (pesticides, dyes, bleaches, processing chemicals), land/natural resources and water (irrigation and also during production). Ideally “organic” clothes should score low on all these factors; however, things are not that simple. For example, cotton is world’s most pesticide-requiring crop; so, if we switch to organic cotton, that may be using less toxic chemicals, but involves more usage of water in its production. While organic cotton is great if it is rain-fed, and locally sourced and processed, it has a greater impact than conventional cotton. Some emerging “organic fibers” like bamboo which need relatively less pesticides and fertilizers, have a catch too, that they are just a kind of rayon and their production involves toxic chemicals. And if you go for hemp, then too there are something or the other impacts, which makes it impossible to rank all these fibers as per their overall environmental footprint. Best is to look for GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) logo when you want to buy organic clothing.
And if you want to know more about organic clothing, read this article.