Labels on cotton and wool garments often read ‘100% pure cotton’ and ‘100% pure wool’, but In reality conventionally grown wool and cotton are far from pure! Tons of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers are used in the cotton growing process and on grazing pastures used by the sheep which produce wool. In addition, more chemicals such as bleaches and dyes are used in the finishing process. All this adds up to the fact that the growing and processing of conventional cotton and wool takes a tremendous toll on the environment and we are all paying the price.
Now there are alternatives – a growing demand for organic clothing made from cotton and wool is starting to have a huge benefit on the environment. Caring about how the clothes you wear are made is the first step in adding to that demand, and opens the door to a whole range of environmental benefits – read our 7 reasons for wearing organic clothing below.
1. Avoids harmful chemicals
At least 8,000 chemicals are used in textile manufacturing processes – many of these pesticides and herbicides are classified by the World Health Organisation as 'moderately hazardous' to 'acutely hazardous'. Organic standards ban the use of these chemicals and include criteria to ensure that organic clothing textiles are grown and produced using methods that cause the least amount of harm to humans and the environment.
2. Kind to the skin
The natural properties of organic cotton and organic merino wool allow the skin to "breathe" and the fibres absorb impurities and residues. The purity and softness of organic clothing may offer
some relief to people with allergies and problematic skin disorders.
3. Environmentally friendly
Organic cotton and organic wool are both completely bio-degradable and are from sustainable, renewable sources. This makes the environmental impact after using organic clothing less harmful than synthetic fibres and non-organic fabrics that use chemicals in their production.
4. GM free
Genetically modified (GM) crops are not allowed under organic standards. For example, GM crops are used widely to feed non-organic livestock that produce much of the conventional wool in the textile supply chain. However, organic clothing made from organic cotton and organic wool is completely GM free.
5. High standards
Organic clothing textiles come from trusted and reliable sources. All organic fibre producers are audited and inspected at least once a year for the fibre to be certified as organic. The standards for organic textiles are laid down in European and international law.
6. Care for animals
Organic farming systems have higher levels of animal welfare standards than conventional farming and are governed by international standards.
7. Good for wildlife and the environment
Organic farming generally supports more farmland wildlife than non-organic farming. The UK government has stated that it’s better for wildlife, results in less pollution from sprays, and produces less dangerous waste.
Further information about organic clothing and textiles: