What are Organic Textiles, Fabrics and Garments? And why are they so important?
What Does ‘Organic’ Really Mean?
The word organic is known by everyone and is loosely applied to anything that’s seemingly natural.
With regard to fabrics or textiles, organic refers to natural fibres such as cotton, wool, silk, ramie and jute which have been cultivated without the use of any chemicals.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
Organic is defined as ‘related to or derived from living matter’; this means that only natural textiles have the propensity to be organic. Usually organic products put emphasis on producing and manufacturing fabrics in an all natural and sustainable way; indicating that no unnatural products such as chemical based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are used in the production of the fabric, all the way from when it is cultivated until it is spun into a fabric.
Non-organic, on the other hand is defined as ‘not relating to or deriving from living matter. All man-made or synthetic fibres belong in this category and cannot be organic. But even though natural textiles are the only ones that can be organic, they are most often not.
The majority of farming is non-organic, despite both health concerns as well as environmental damages. The reason for this is that the use of chemicals is convenient; chemical pesticides and fertilisers allow farmers to save time, costs and bulk out more produce in most cases.
Organic farming methods like crop rotation, are not efficient enough when the farmer can continuously get a crop to grow in one spot with chemicals.
The Effects Of Non-Organic Fabric Manufacture On The Environment
Most farmers globally use non-organic farming practices, which lead to many environmental issues. The overuse of pesticides, herbicides and harmful chemicals to keep the modified plants alive pollute the air and the soil. For example, a percentage of the water used in nourishing the cotton plants becomes polluted and either runs off, contributing to acid rain or becomes polluted ground water, eventually decreasing the nutritional content of the soil.
Waterbodies also becomes completely polluted with toxins, detergents and heavy metals, getting dumped out into rivers, lakes and the ocean! This results in eutrophication, acid rain, death to marine life, amongst other harmful effects.
The air pollution of pesticides contributes considerably to our lung and mental health. These chemicals have been known to cause asthma, breathing conditions as well as pollute the brain.
Why is it important to Support Organic Fabrics?
1| Reduction of Pollution By supporting organic fabrics, you will help in reducing chemical pollution from the agriculture and manufacture of fabrics. If we supported organic initiatives more consciously, non-organic industries would consider more organic processes thereby controlling pollution from textile manufacture!
2| Decreasing the Effects of Global Warming
Purchasing organic fabrics will help to decrease the effects of global warming. Less chemicals inside our soil and water will mean increased fertility, less acid rain and less soil corrosion. Excess methane from mass quantities of fertilisers could also be prevented from increasing the gaping holes in our ozone layer.
3| Improving Your Health
Supporting organic ventures will ultimately lead to better health for all, from production of the fibres to the wearing of the clothes. If non-organic farming activities ceased, the pollution from both agriculture and manufacture would cease to harm our skin, lung, brain, heart and overall health!