Organic Clothing - Organic and Natural Fabrics

Our favorite products…organic, sustainable, eco-friendly and how the fibers we promote relate. The benefits and features of organic and natural fabric types such as organic cotton, organic bamboo, hemp, tencel, soy, wool and silk when selecting organic clothing.

Organic

The definition of organic as defined by the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition, April 1995
“Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.
“‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole.
“Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water.
“Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.”


Sustainable

We as individuals acknowledge the impact of our actions on a daily basis and the affects it can have on future generations and thus have consequences. If we are mindful to that statement then we can make wise decisions that are good for the human race and all other living organisms on the planet. Sustainability, is not only an environmental issue, but social and economic as well.

Eco-Friendly

Is intended or perceived to have no harmful effect on the natural environment and its inhabitants.

Organic Cotton

The organic cotton fiber is grown using production methods that replenish and maintain soil fertility, reducing the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and defoliants to build a biological and diverse agriculture. The conventionally grown cotton uses millions of chemicals annually and has a negative affect on biodiversity, freshwater supply, soil, and the health of humans.
Not only is organic cotton better for the planet and health of humans; as an added bonus it does feel great on your skin.

Organic Bamboo

Bamboo is a sustainable resource and is categorized botanically as a grass and not a tree. It is the fastest growing grass and can shoot up to a yard or more in a day. Bamboo has a remarkable root network that can continually sprout new shoots naturally without the use of farming equipment and toxic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. The root system of bamboo helps to improve soil quality by retaining water and preventing soil erosion. Through photosynthesis bamboo reduce greenhouse gases by absorbing approximately 5 times more carbon dioxide and producing 35% more oxygen than trees. Depending on how bamboo is manufactured though may require the use of strong chemicals. Bamboo can be manufactured mechanically or chemically. Manufacturing facilities have begun to use other technologies to manufacture bamboo more eco-friendly by using a modified lyocell process to dissolve bamboo cellulose. The lyocell process is healthier because N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide is supposedly non-toxic to humans and the chemical manufacturing process captures and recycles 99.5% of the chemicals to be used again. Bamboo fabrics and clothing can be manufactured and produced without chemical additives through certification of EKO-TEX to ensure the processes are healthy and ecologically safe. Regardless of the manufacturing process, bamboo clothing is 100% biodegradable and can be completely decomposed.
The benefits of bamboo are non-irritating fabric, its softness and that it is hypoallergenic. Bamboo is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal due to a bacteriostatis agent unique to bamboo plants called “bamboo kun”. The bamboo kun resists odor producing bacteria; therefore, allowing bamboo to remain fresher. However, as per the FTC's act "unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber — often called “mechanically processed bamboo” — it can’t be called bamboo. Indeed, to advertise or label a product as “bamboo,” you need competent and reliable evidence, such as scientific tests and analyses, to show that it’s made of actual bamboo fiber. Relying on other people’s claims isn’t substantiation. The same standard applies to other claims, like a claim that rayon fibers retain natural antimicrobial properties from the bamboo plant." Rayon, has similar characteristics of and benefits of bamboo being it is very absorbent and wicks water away from the body 3-4 times faster than cotton giving this fabric thermal regulating properties. These fibers are more breathable and naturally more wrinkle-resistant than cotton.

Hemp

Hemp is a plant that is harvested for its fibers, seed, seed meal and seed oil. It grows in well-drained, nitrogen rich and non-acidic soil and requires limited pesticides because it grows so quickly it is naturally pest resistant. The hemp fiber has similar properties to other fibers such as flax, kenaf, jute and ramie. Hemp is harvested through the “retting” process. The dew retting process allows the natural humidity and bacteria to decompose the fiber pectin. Other methods of retting are water retting, warm water retting and chemical retting to separate the fibers from the core.
The benefits of hemp are its fiber length, strength, durability, absorbency, anti-mildew, and anti-microbial properties. Hemp fiber can be blended with wool, cotton, linen or other fibers. The blending of fibers adds strength, durability, absorbency and breathability and makes the fabric cool and comfortable to wear.

Tencel

Tencel is a brand name for a fiber known as lyocell. Lyocell is a man-made fiber made from wood pulp cellulose. The raw material for lyocell comes from wood pulp cellulose grown on tree farms or low grade recycled paper. Cellulose is the natural polymer that is the main component of plants. The cellulose is broken down chemically and reformed into fibers. The manufacturing process to shred and dissolve the wood pulp requires a non-toxic solvent solution and approximately 99% is recovered and recycled. The waste byproduct in the air and water from the manufacturing process are minimal and considered harmless. Lyocell is considered an eco-friendly fiber since products made from it can be recycled.
The benefits of lyocell are its ability to wick moisture, absorbency, soft, breathable, and comfortable to wear. This fiber is also biodegradable.

Soy

Soybeans and special soil bacteria convert nitrogen from the atmosphere to form in the soil used by the soybean plant. Once soybeans are harvested the remaining plant is turned back into the soil and helps to build up organic matter and nitrogen content in the soil. Some soybean crop producers will plant sugar cane after a soybean crop for the benefit of the green manure and nitrogen. The rotation crop will also help to naturally break up disease cycle of mono-culture copping. Soy is manufactured from regenerated fibers of protein origin, which comes from plant protein. Soy based yarn is made from left over byproducts of soybean oil and tofu production. Soy can also be a substitute for cashmere, helping China’s overgrazing industry of goats from which cashmere is made by gathering the fine hairs from the underbelly of certain goats. The soft soybean fiber is fused with organic compounds in order to create a strong fiber. The soybean is grown for soybean sprouts, steamed raw beans, roasted seeds, soy milk, soy sauce, soybean paste, soy flour, and curd called tofu. The versatile soybean is part of everyone’s lives in developed countries including an eco-friendly use for producing fiber.
Soy fabric is soft and silky and known in some countries as “soysilk” and “vegetable cashmere.”

Wool

Organic wool is grown and organically processed from sheep raised without harmful chemicals in healthy conditions and an environment free of feed additives, agrochemicals and pesticides. The sheep are not sprayed or dipped in pesticide treatments, which result from overgrazing whereby the animal becomes susceptible to parasites, mites, lice and flies commonly used in conventional sheep farming. Organic wool yarn is not treated chemically during any phase of production starting from the farming of the animal to the finished product. Conventional wool on the other hand may use harmful pesticides on the sheep, antibiotic feed additives, as well as toxic chemicals used during the manufacturing process. Wool can be almost non-allergenic; however, some individuals do have an allergy to lanolin, which is the oil that is found in wool or the chemicals that are used in conventional wool treatment during the processing.
Wool is a superior natural fiber that has a number of benefits. The benefits of wool are its natural insulating properties, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer due to the breathability of the fiber. It naturally resists mildews and molds, is water repellent, and has the ability to wick away excess moisture. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture. It is also naturally fire resistant, naturally wrinkle resistant, and cleans easily since wool does not collect much static the dirt and dust are less attracted to wool. Stains lift out easily because it sits on the surface of the fiber. The durability of wool is much greater than cotton and can resist tearing so wool clothing will last for many years. Wool is a renewable and sustainable resource that is sheered from sheep annually and is biodegradable. Wool not only comes from sheep, but Alpaca’s as well which is a healthy alternative and comfortable to wear.

Silk

Silk originated in ancient China and is often known as the “Queen of Fiber.” Silk is a controversial issue and depending on what method of production is used silk may not be an ethical choice. Silk is largely produced from the domesticated mulberry silkworm. Very few of these silkworms are able to live complete natural lifecycles due to gassing, steaming or being boiled alive. The worm is kept from escaping the cocoon as a moth in order to keep the cocoon completely in tact. To produce one pound of silk, 2600 silkworms must die so this is not an ethical way to manufacture and produce silk. There are other ethical options such as peace silk or vegetarian silk which comes from the Eri Silk Moth or other species of wild silk caterpillars called “wild silks.” These caterpillars live natural lifecycles in the wild without being sacrificed. Wild silks such as the Assam silks known as Muga, Eri and Pat are classified differently. Muga silk is a naturally organic fabric untouched by chemicals; however, the silkworms are killed before it can emerge from the cocoon. Eri silk comes from domesticated silkworms but the caterpillars are not destroyed and live a complete lifecycle. The Eri silk is a “peace silk”. A healthy and organic silk would be a raw silk, noil, Muga or Eri silk that is natural or dyed with low impact and fiber reactive dyes that have no protective finishes applied. The ethical choice for silk would be a wild silk, spun silk or Eri silk where the silk worm is not destroyed and produced under Fair Trade principles. An eco-friendly silk would be silks dyed using low impact and fiber reactive dyes or vegetable dyes without any applied finishes to the fabric. An eco alternative may be to deconstruct and recycle silk pieces to make recycled eco fashion.
The benefits of silk fabric are its luxurious feel, durability and drape, as well as its biodegradable properties.