Monday, 26 April 2010

Organic cotton clothing - should I bother?

White Gold - the true cost of cotton from Environmental Justice Foundation on Vimeo.

In the past I have always considered organic clothing as an expensive luxury and have never really got the point of it, seeing it as for people that have got more money than they know what to do with. I have never really even bought organic food as whilst I would love to receive the health benefits of doing so I can never really justify spending the money on it (except for the children when they were really little). Organic clothing does not seem to have any clear health benefits although it is though to be generally beneficial to those who suffer from eczema

Through some of the eco fashion writing that I have been doing over the last few years and information from organisations like the Environmental Justice Foundation (see the video above), I have definitely found myself being swayed to the organic clothing way of thinking. Of course I still think recycling clothes is the most eco friendly option, but there are times when only a fresh new top will do, second hand clothes shopping can take time and you can't always get what you want. Organic clothing which is mainly made of organic cotton is a much more environmentally option than conventional cotton. The problem with conventional clothing is the large amount of pesticides that need to be used in its cultivation. Not only are these pesticides damaging for the environment but the pests also build up a resistance to them, meaning that an increasing amount is needed. This becomes financially unsustainable for the farmers eventually. As if that wasn't enough, there are some serious ethical issues connected with cotton production including the use of child labour in Uzbekistan for harvesting the cotton.

Even with all of these environmental and ethical considerations, buying organic alternatives can be difficult as not only is it more expensive bit there is a lot less choice than for conventional cotton and other non eco friendly options. This is improving all the time with labels like People Tree and Ascension making eco fashion more accessible and affordable.

Whilst organic cotton is a good alternative to conventional cotton, there is just not the capacity of production for it to completely replace conventional cotton. There is also Fairtrade cotton which does eliminate some of the ethical issues involved in cotton production. I have recently come round to the thinking that when buying organic or any other eco friendly clothes, it does not have to be an all or nothing approach (as in most cases it would just end up being nothing). It is OK to mix and match as this is a step in the right direction and is helping the eco fashion industry to grow and hopefully improve in choice and price.

I have also recently began trying to buy quality to clothes that will last. This is where organic clothing really works for me as whilst you often do pay slightly more the quality is usually a bit better than some of the high street clothes. I don't feel at the moment that I can commit completely to buying eco fashion or organic clothing. Sometimes I do see just what I need in conventional cotton at the right price, but if I try and checkout the eco fashion retailers first before looking at others, I am probably much more likely to end up buying it. There are also a whole raft of other eco friendly alternatives to organic cotton including recycled materials, bamboo, hemp and organic wool, I have yet to try out any of these but will be keeping my eye out for new and exciting labels using these alternatives.

OK my long and rambling post is almost over, for those who prefer visual posts as opposed to loads and loads of words, I though I would share some of my favourite organic cotton pieces for the summer.

What do you think? Do you bother buying organic cotton or any other eco fashion?

people tree organic cotton

Fuji Striped Dress - People Tree

stripey organic dress

Stripey Ruffle Shoulder Dress - People Tree

organic cotton sailor dress

Sailor Dress - Annie Greenabelle

organic cardigan

Lucy Cardigan - Seasalt


Franca said...

I've resisted looking at the new people tree stuff to resist temptation - looks like that was for a good reason!

* Reena Rai * said...

Great minds! I just did an eco-fashion post recently. I agree that it doesn't have to be an 'all or nothing' approach, it all helps and posts like this are great to raise awareness. I have a few organic and fairtrade items of clothing and if there is the option, I will also go for it. I also buy more vintage now

Style of a Fashionista said...

I did buy a pair of fairtrade cotton leggings from Topshop a while ago and I don't know if it was coinsidence or what but they only lasted a couple of wears and I noticed a few holes in them. I do try to buy secondhand where possible mainly ebay as I am useless at thifting but I am trying to get better xoxo

All Women Stalker said...

I want to buy some but there are just no choices where I live. What I do is buy more thrifted as that is eco-friendly, too.

Laura Connell said...

What an informative and well-researched article. Most consumers are unwilling to put up more money for ethical cotton. I have decided to open a second-hand store rather than an eco-friendly one for that reason. It's too bad because I would like to support those eco-designers; however I don't see consumers putting their money where their mouths are.

Organic cotton clothing said...

I like the first two dresses one with horizontal lines and other with flowering design on one side. And i would like to add a point on Organic clothing.
It is made of all-natural, non-synthetic materials and is a part of the organic agriculture movement. This movement emphasizes farming and processing that work with nature and help minimize air, soil and water pollution. Organic clothing materials come from plants that have not been radiated, genetically modified or treated with synthetic or chemical pesticides.