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Organic Clothing: What’s the Hype!?

Get sustainable and go organic! If you picture food when you think about organic, you aren’t alone, but it’s time to think about what you’re going to wear! Organic Clothing!

In the United States, we’re seeing a rise in the popularity of organic foods but also in organic clothing. An increasing number of brands and companies are popping up offering customers 100% organic clothes, many of which are found in stores like Whole Foods. Like organic food, buying organic clothing comes at a higher price.

Conventional Cotton

Conventional cotton farming is said to be among the most environmentally destructive practices today, contaminating the air, water, soil, and health of the farmers themselves. The reason for this is that conventional cotton farms use a huge amount of pesticides; cotton farming only makes up about three percent of the world’s farming land but uses ten percent or more of the pesticides used, and 25% of all insecticides.

So, as this indicates, exposure to conventional cotton can expose you to a host of “possibly carcinogenic” chemicals, making choosing organic, which is made without the use of chemicals, a wise choice.

Benefits of Organic Clothing

Choosing organic cotton clothing provides benefits primarily due to the fact that you’re not exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals. Organic clothing can especially be helpful for babies and sensitive individuals. Choosing organic clothing can cause fewer headaches, allergies, and respiratory problems compared to the conventional counterparts. Avoiding exposure to chemicals can also help prevent cancer, reproductive issues, endocrine problems, and neurological degeneration.

Some of the primary benefits of organic cotton are for the environment, helping to reduce the pesticides found in the soil, water, and air. This helps keep our land clean and pure and helps maintain the integrity of the health of our ecosystem. Additionally, organic cotton farming requires less water than does conventionally farmed cotton. Cotton crops are a thirsty one, and conventional cotton farming uses nearly 3% of the global water footprint. While organic cotton still has a high need for water, the need is less than for conventional, making it better for the environment.

Keep in Mind

While choosing organic as much as possible is always a safer option and is likely to help cut down on chemical exposure, being labeled as “organic” doesn’t mean it’s actually completely free of chemicals. Not only is cross-contamination a problem (chemicals being carried in the wind, water, etc.), but our national regulation system doesn’t guarantee 100% protection.

Federal organic standards for organic cotton only protect or cover the harvesting process; once the cotton leaves the farm, regulation ceases. Currently, there are no federal regulations for the cotton clothing processing, meaning that, technically, companies can still treat the organic cotton with harmful chemicals including dyes, bleaches, or other such treatments that can be toxic.

This means that if you’re truly aiming to avoid as much chemical exposure as possible, it’s important to research the specific company you’re buying your organic clothing from to be informed about their unique processing methods and what they add to the cotton. The Organic Trade Association has put together an organic standards criteria that includes all stages of clothing processing, but currently, it’s voluntary; companies are not required to conform to be still labeled as organic.

Always remember that any reduction in chemical exposure is good. Even if the organic clothing is treated with some chemicals, that is better than choosing a conventional option that has more chemicals. At the end of the day, choosing organic clothing may not be essential, but can be a good way of reducing possible chemical exposure while also boosting the health of the environment.

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