The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems, difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc., is rising substantially.
There are at least two good reasons to consider purchasing organic clothing: one, your clothing is intimately in contact with the largest (and arguably, most neglected) organ of the body, your skin! Organic clothing has not been treated with harmful pesticides, insecticides and dyes, and is therefore not contributing to the pollution of your own body’s biological terrain. Two, organic clothing made from natural fibers and materials are eco-friendly, are from renewable resources and is also *hopefully, socially conscious.
Persons who might benefit the most in making this conscious change are persons who have itchy, irritated skin, are constantly sneezing, coughing or congested, or persons who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day.
When I think of organic clothing, the first eco-friendly material that pops into mind is hemp. It was the original eco-fabric incorporated into t-shirts and denim. It grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides. It is an environmentally positive crop, which means it actually improves the condition of the soil it grows in!
Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides resulting in finer, naturally softer fabric with higher thread counts.
Jute, likely more commonly known to you as burlap or hessian, is produced from a plant that matures in less than 6 months and is therefore highly renewable. Moreover, it is biodegradable and recyclable and a great alternative to plastic. While this may not be your first choice for eco-friendly fibers against your skin because of its coarse texture, it is durable and breathable and is used in bags, shoes and jackets. The camouflage suit (known as a ghillie suit) was initially used in the military for concealment. For civilians, this material is used in camo jackets worn by hunters and serious paintball or airsoft participants.
Clothing (I digress a moment – as well as flooring in our homes) made from organic bamboo is another growing hot commodity amongst contemporary green clothing line designers. It is a plant which you know grows readily in our households, without the need of harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Material made from bamboo, does however undergo some degree of chemical processing by the time it gets to your wardrobe.
Lyocell fibers, whose trademark name is Tencel, are made from wood pulp cellulose. Cellulose is a natural polymer found in the cells of all vegetation. Although it is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, its soft and durable qualities making it desirable, it can undergo the same harsh chemical treatment conventional clothing undergoes from its natural fibers to your garments.
Other natural fabrics which are increasingly “all the rage” and are being incorporated into luxurious clothing designers’ green lines (and eventually percolates into the average persons’ wardrobe) include: aloe (Germany, Spain and Italy), modal (Beech tree cellulose), soy (“vegetable cashmere”) and yak (long-haired bovine that is indigenous to the Himalayan mountains).
We are becoming increasingly aware of the food we put into our bodies. Perhaps it is also time we become conscious of the clothes we place against our skin.