With New York fashion week starting this week and London Fashion week coming up, sustainability in the fashion industry is a hot topic. There is also much, deserved, condemnation of fast fashion and the throw away culture that seems prevalent at the moment.
We don’t really consider ourselves as a fashion brand. Our T-shirts are a way of spreading the message about how amazing the creatures who share our planet are. But we are eco-conscious and our T-shirts are made from 100% certified organic cotton. So we thought we’d take some time to explain why.
Cotton vs synthetic fabric
Cotton is a natural fibre. It comes from cultivated plants from the genus Gossypium, in the mallow family, which also includes okra and hibiscus. It has been used as a fibre since ancient times. From the fluffy cotton towel after our morning shower, to the jeans and t-shirt we wear through the day, to our cosy cotton sheets at bedtime, it’s part of our daily lives. Cotton is grown in several countries including India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, USA, China, Turkey, Greece, Australia. It is estimated that 25 million tons of cotton are produced every year. As it’s a natural fibre is doesn’t cause allergies or skin irritations. Cotton will also eventually biodegrade.
Synthetic fabrics are usually produced from mineral oil. The most common types of synthetic fabrics are polyester, nylon and acrylic. These make up 63% of textiles in use today and they are dependant on fossil fuel extraction (and all that implies) do not biodegrade and also release microfibres during the washing process, that enter our waterways and cause catastrophic harm to the marine environment!
Why organic cotton?
Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically intensive crops grown. These chemicals have tremendous impact on the environment and also the health of people in cotton-growing areas. They are among the most toxic chemicals as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Organic Cotton and Biodiversity
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. There are systems in place in the growing of organic cotton that replenish and maintain the soil fertility. By using crop rotation methods, local biodiversity is potentially greatly increased. What’s so important about biodiversity I hear you ask? Well Ian is in the process of writing a blog about it which I’ll link to in the future – but here is a quote from it
Why is biodiversity important? The easiest way to explain the importance of biodiversity is to imagine where we are going by reducing it. What would life be like without biodiversity? Imagine a white room or an empty desert, that is where we are headed. Every day, every year, the diversity of life decreases all around us. We might manage to stay sane in such an environment for a short time but we certainly couldn’t survive.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. This is beneficial to the environment, to the farmers growing the cotton and also to people living in the area where the crops are grown.
Regulations are in place that prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming.
Organic Cotton Certification
There are third-party certification organisations who verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production.
Some clothes are described as ‘organic’ without being certified; in some cases, the item itself might only contain a small percentage of organic cotton, or may indeed be made from organic cotton, but then dyed using toxic chemicals.
To be sure that a product is truly organic, check the tag for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) symbol, the Soil Association symbol or the Organic Exchange symbol. Look for these labels
What can we do?
- We are always looking for ways for our business to have the least impact on the environment while doing its bit to educate and empower people with knowledge about nature.
- The print runs for our T-shirts are always limited in number to avoid waste and will continue to be.
- Our T-shirts are the best quality 100% organic cotton we could find, at 180 gsm they are heavier and softer. This means they will last longer reducing the amount of clothes going into landfill.
- We are looking at a returns process for children’s t-shirts when your child has out-grown them – watch this space!
- We will also be keeping an eye on other fabrics that might be suitable for sharing our artwork, such as bamboo and tencel – a fibre made from the wood pulp of trees.