Why Wear Organic Clothing?

Let’s talk about one of the buzzwords we hear all the time: organic.

Thanks to the recent organic food movement, the health benefits of eating organic are front and center. Organic crops are grown without harmful pesticides or GMOs, they typically reach you sooner than conventional produce due to their lack of preservatives, and (it’s said) they’re more flavorful than the alternative. However, the benefits of organic don’t stop there!

While it’s easy to understand why putting organic food IN our bodies is better, many of us don’t know why we should put it ON our bodies as well. Well, step into our office, and we’ll break down what really makes organic stand apart!

Agricultural Benefits

Organic farming methods treat the soil, water, and those who work with it better than conventional practices. Things like pesticides and fertilizers contaminate not only the plants sprayed with these harmful or synthetic chemicals, but also the air, soil, and waterways around them. The chemical use in farming strips the soil of its nutrients, which can lead to soil erosion. This heavy reliance on chemical additives feeds a vicious cycle, as soil that has been depleted of nutrients will require the application of more fertilizers to create a worthwhile harvest (and on and on it goes!)

Once added to the soil, these chemicals runoff during rain or irrigation, polluting nearby rivers and lakes. By diminishing the availability of potable water, they endanger the plants, animals, and humans that depend on these waterways. Fertilizer runoff can also drastically change local marine ecosystems, creating harmful algal blooms that reduce oxygen supply to marine life, create dead zones in our waterways, and raise treatment costs for drinking water.

Synthetic chemicals aren’t just bad for the land, they expose the people to harmful effects too! When pesticides and fertilizers are used, they endanger the health of those working to grow the crops. Workers are exposed to airborne chemicals when they spray fields with toxic cocktails. They also come into direct contact with chemicals during the harvest, sorting, and packaging of non-organic produce. Many chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers have been linked to health problems in humans concerning reproductive health, endocrine disruption, and cancer.

Because organic farming does not allow the use of these harmful synthetic chemicals, they can avoid these destructive side effects. By wearing organic clothing, you promote farming that creates healthy soil, minimizes soil erosion, and diminishes health risks for people and wildlife.

Marine Life Benefits

Unlike organic fabric, synthetic fabric is human-engineered from petroleum based materials. This causes it to contain both chemicals and microfibers or microplastics, which are basically just very small pieces of plastic that cause a whole slew of environmental problems. Every time any synthetic material is washed, it releases hundreds of thousands of these particles into the water. Too small to be caught by most filtration systems, these tiny microplastics eventually make their way into rivers, lakes and oceans, and eventually enter the food chain. Animals consume these microplastics, which proceed to tangle up within the animal’s digestive tracts or impact their abilities to live normal lives. When these fish are consumed by larger fish or animals, the microplastics get passed on, and accumulate in the next animal. And guess who’s at the top of that food chain? Us.

When the animals that have consumed these harmful materials become part of our diet, trace amounts of microplastics can end up in our bodies. While it’s relatively unknown that potential health risks these particles pose, we do know that plastics contain harmful chemicals from production, and can absorb harmful bacteria as they pass through wastewater plants (yuck!)

Organic fabrics aren’t synthetically created, so they don’t contain plastic particles, and therefore can biodegrade back into our earth naturally. While some organic textiles may be blended with small amounts of elastane or spandex, the amount of microfiber shed is still significantly cut down. Microplastics aren’t just found in your wardrobe, however! Check out the other ways that you can cut out these plastic particles here.

Personal Benefits

Because organic clothing is not grown with the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it’s better for you, as the consumer. Your skin is the largest organ on your body, and it absorbs what it’s exposed to. You’re probably already aware of the health benefits of organic produce, and that’s great! But if you don’t want to eat harmful, artificial chemicals, you probably don’t want them rubbing into your body through your skin, either.

Wearing non-organically grown clothing exposes your skin to the chemicals used to make the fabric. For some people, this can cause uncomfortable reactions from weakening your immune system to causing irritation. On the other hand, organic materials are typically hypoallergenic due to their chemical-free production, so they’re kind to your body, especially if you’re someone with sensitive skin.

Energy & Climate Benefits

Conventional farming requires far more energy than its organic counterpart. Additives like pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional farming methods require energy to extract the ingredients, produce the chemicals, and implement the finished products. Moreover, the energy used in the process is typically produced by fossil fuels. By relying on fossil fuels to create synthetic substances, non-organic agriculture adds to harmful CO2 emissions and pollution of our air and water.

Organic farming, on the other hand, actually helps to reduce pollution, as the healthy soil it creates works to remove CO2 emissions from our atmosphere. Plus, this nutrient rich soil can continue to support new crops without the need for added fertilizers in the future! Organic farming also uses less water than conventional farming, helping preserve yet another one of Earth’s most precious resources.

Seeking out Organic Clothing

When seeking out organic clothing, keep your eyes peeled for the GOTS logo as a way to backup companies’ claims. The Global Organic Textile Standard certifies products using guidelines which cover chemical use, employee safety and living wages, waste, and more. A product labeled as a “GOTS certified organic product” contains at least 95% organic fibers, and products labeled “made with organic” have to contain at least 70% organic fibers. Look for this logo on products that you buy and feel confident that your clothing was made in a way that treats both you, and your planet, well.

Our favorite Organic Clothing Brands

tentree

tentree is committed to using materials that put our planet first, including GOTS Certified organic cotton, recycled polyester, and 100% unprocessed non-toxic hemp! But it doesn’t stop there. For every purchase, tentree plants ten trees to keep our air clean, forests healthy. With a great attention to detail, tentree also utilizes a low-impact dyeing process that eliminates chemical waste and conserves water, resulting in brightly colored textiles with minimal dye run-off.

Seek Dry GoodsEarthHero - Core Logo Men's Graphic Tee - Heather Dusk - XXL

Seek is on a mission “to provide quality, authentic and responsibly sourced lifestyle goods to our fellow Seekers.” With a strong focus on the environment, Seek Dry Goods is a 1% for the Planet member, meaning that they give 1% of their revenue towards environmental non-profits. They use low impact materials including organic cotton and recycled polyester, so you can feel great while rocking their artist-inspired graphics!

NauEarthHero - Women's Astir Striped Tank Dress - Caviar Stripe

Nau has a strong commitment to wearing, doing, and being better, starting with their own production. They’ve become trend setters in the eco-fashion industry, selecting high quality materials that will last you for years. From the lining of their jackets to the insulating fill, Nau’s paid attention to it all. They use ten intentional materials that are thoroughly and thoughtfully selected based on creation practices, safety, durability, and environmental effects.

United by BlueEarthHero - Men's Gorham Cut Pullover Hoodie 1

Inspired by the beauty of our surroundings and an ambition to steer meaningful change, this Philadelphia based brand believes their business has a responsibility to promote economic, social, and environmental wellbeing for the planet and its people. They’re proud to be a certified B-Corporation company, part of a group of for-profit companies held to rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Plus, for every product sold, United by Blue cleans up one pound of trash from our waterways!

BighornEarthHero - The Kelso Men's Denim Shirt 1

The materials that Bighorn uses have been carefully selected for their high levels of durability and comfort. With a style that combines the modern man with a mountain vibe, the Denver based company wanted to make sure that their clothing respects the environment they love. By turning to GOTS certified organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials, they’re able to create their timeless shirts in a way that you, and the planet, can get behind.

Wash Greenwashing Away

‘Greenwashing’ (no, this isn’t when you wash your kale in the sink) has become a growing issue, where businesses consciously market their products to be more environmentally friendly than they really are.

With more and more consumers seeking Earth friendly items, companies recognize that there’s green in going green. The movement towards sustainability has become quite mainstream. Even the biggest box companies want to be a part of it. While it’s great to see a trend towards sustainability, not all of these companies are being entirely honest.

As a consumer, it takes a little awareness to be able to distinguish who’s genuine and who isn’t. With a few simple tips, you can gain the knowledge to make sure your dollars go towards truly sustainable products and make a positive impact.

“Buzz off” Buzzwords

“Organic”, “green”, “earth-friendly”, and “low-impact” all sound great, and that’s exactly what greenwashed companies want you to think. What do these words really mean in the context of your product? Instead of trusting overarching phrases like “environmentally friendly”, look for specific details that show you how the company achieves that.

Au Natural

“Natural” is one of the biggest buzzword traps. Currently, there are no regulations for labelling a product as natural. This means that businesses can slap it on products with very little effort. The raw materials in these products may come from nature, but in many cases they are synthetically manufactured to a point that’s far from eco-friendly.

Organic: Back it up!

“Organic” marks products as grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. We’re all for that! The word “organic,” however, shouldn’t stand on it’s own. When it comes to natural and organic products, look for those with legitimate third party certifications from groups like United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). USDA is a great, trusted source for food, NSF for bath products and cosmetics, and GOTS for organic clothing and textiles. If you see the NSF or USDA logos on a product, it’s guaranteed to contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Check out NSF certified Goddess Garden sunscreen or Lily Farm Fresh USDA Organic skin care products!

nsf-organic-label usda-organic-label gots-organic-label

Recycled or Recyclable?

Greenwashing can be found in logos, too. In packaging, it’s common to see recycling symbols and green logos plastered everywhere. Companies tend to use the trusty triangle to show a product has been made from recycled content. This, however, can mislead users to think it’s also recyclable. This isn’t always the case, so take time to learn what can be recycled or composted in your local facilities, as they vary from county to county. Check for wording on the packaging to help you learn more about what the symbol implies.

Generally, look for companies that share specific information about their claims. Eco-friendly companies are proud to share how much of their product contains post-consumer recycled materials! They want you to know that they’re GOTS certified. Vague labels can be used to make sustainable claims sound better than they truly are. It’s better to trust claims that share details!

Check for Relevance

When brands don’t have much to brag about, they often make up flashy phrases to catch the eco-conscious eye. Products that tote phrases like “lead-free” and “CFC free” sound great, when in reality lead has been banned from almost all USA products since 1988, and CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons–commonly used in aerosols) haven’t been used since 1987. Slapping these claims on products is almost like advertising water as gluten-free.

Additionally, check to make sure that products making eco-friendly claims aren’t masking an unsustainable use. A disposable product made from sustainably harvested wood still encourages a single-use mentality. Instead, you could make a more positive impact by investing in a reusable item that promotes a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Hear it From the Horse’s Mouth

Companies should be proud to explain what makes them eco-conscious– in detail! Almost every brand has a “contact us” page, where you can reach out directly with specific questions about products and company values. When a brand is truly sustainable, they should be able to provide a comprehensive answer about everything from product materials to production methods.

No brand is perfect, but a brand able to acknowledge both their achievements and shortcomings shows transparency. If a company tries to avoid a question about sustainability by drawing attention somewhere else, they may be participating in greenwashing. Companies with a genuine commitment to the planet will be excited to provide the consumer with information on their products, and will be open to hearing about ways they can improve.

Wash Greenwashing Away

Someday, there may be a website that does all of this work for you (*wink wink*). Until then, start learning with your everyday products! Next time you’re in the store, take a few minute to do a quick search online. By becoming more aware of what you add to your cart, it’ll become second nature to make eco-conscious decisions.

By simply acknowledging that greenwashing exists, you already have a head-start towards making informed choices. There is no shortage of unique brands making a truly green impact – you just have to know what to look for.