Why do we choose organic cotton over conventional cotton? They’re both natural, right? Right, but there’s a huge difference….a difference you should be aware of when making choices.
Like organic foods 20 years ago, the idea of organic cotton is confusing to many of us. It’s taken a little longer to catch on because the correlation isn’t as direct. We don’t eat cotton fiber (at least we hope you don’t!) However, more people are becoming knowledgeable as to how the organic cotton movement is just as powerful and important as that of organic foods.
In addition to being one of the most widely grown crops in the world, growing conventional cotton is also one of the most chemical-intensive. These chemicals have tremendous impact on the earth’s air, water, soil, and the health of people in cotton-growing areas. They are among the most toxic chemicals as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The problem is even worse in developing countries with uninformed consumers, and lack of stable institutions and property rights. In addition to destroying the land, thousands of farmers die from exposure to these chemicals every year.
Why linen is so sustainable? Although linen has been around for ages, it’s always been a very sustainable crop that is less invasive on our earth and on our health. Growing flax requires less water than cotton. There is very little waste with flax; other part of the plant, like the seeds, can be used to produce linseed oil or flax seeds for consumption. Linen typically requires fewer pesticides, herbicides and fungicides than cotton.
Hemp clothing is made from a natural fiber with many amazing advantages, both ecological and personal.
Every piece of hemp clothing begins on the farm, where ecological methods may easily be used. Hemp is a hardy crop, so it can be grown very successfully with no chemical additives. It also grows quickly, providing a great deal of usable material per acre. The fibers used in hemp clothing come from the stem of the plant, so after harvesting, centuries-old mechanical techniques may be used to separated the the strands and prepare them for processing.
In the next phase of construction, hemp clothing has more remarkable advantages. The soft natural color of hemp accepts sustainable dyes easily, and can also be bleached without harsh chemicals. Although many types of fabric can be woven from 100% hemp, it also combines well with a wide variety of natural and man-made fibers for a very diverse range of textures and properties.
When it’s ready to wear, hemp clothing has a lot of personal advantages, too. The fabric has a soft feel and stands up to a lot of wear, due to hemp’s long, strong fiber structure. Hemp clothing is also very breathable and has excellent insulation properties, keeping the wearer warm in cool weather and cool in the summer. Because of the usual natural processing techniques, hemp clothing is an excellent choice for people with chemical sensitivities.
Hemp clothing is so durable that it tends to last for a long time, making it well suited to classic and versatile styles suitable for years of wear. Besides being strong, the material is mold-, mildew-, and microbe-resistant, making it nearly indestructible with normal use. Luckily, it stands up well to repeated washings and never needs dry cleaning, growing softer and more comfortable over time. Of course, nothing lasts forever, but when hemp clothing is no longer wearable it can biodegrade completely, leading to a minimal ecological footprint over the whole life of each garment.