After I placed the words "Organic Clothing" on the front window of the boutique, thinking it would help clue shoppers in about what types of products they would find inside, I started to get all sorts of funny inquiries about the meaning of organic clothing. For example, on many occasions I was asked if organic meant you could eat them (the clothing). Well the answer is yes, you probably could, but why would you want to? I doubt the nutrition content is nearly as valuable as the wearability. To clear up any further confusion about organic cotton and what it means if your clothing is made from this wonderful fiber, our awesome summer intern wrote an informative guest blog post about the subject. I hope this helps. (Please leave a comment below if you still have questions or feel like adding to the discussion).
What is Organic Cotton and Why is it Important?
I was raised in Northeast Arkansas, and as cliché as it may sound, I grew up in a 100-year-old farmhouse in the middle of a cotton field. I was always intrigued by the cotton, how it would bloom and make the whole field look like it just snowed in September. I was fascinated at how many different uses cotton had, and how frequently it was used in everyday life. However, it wasn’t until I landed my internship at Good Things Boutique, that I learned the importance of organically grown cotton.
Organic cotton not only contributes to a cleaner environment, it is beneficial to our health and that of the farmers and the workers who handle it. Conventionally grown cotton is treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and other genetically modified materials. These toxic chemicals create a dangerous work environment for the farmers and workers who breathe in the harmful fumes every day. In the U.S. alone, around 10,000 farmers die each year due to cancer caused by such toxins.
People are not the only ones who suffer, our wildlife is suffering from this too. The chemicals can run-off into lakes, rivers, and waterways, killing millions of fish and birds and destroying their habitats. This run-off effect also harms the water we drink. An increase of pesticide residue has been found in our food, breast-milk, and farm animals.
I’m sure you’re wondering by now, why are we getting a science lesson and what does it have to do with our clothes? Well believe it or not, this information has everything to do with what you wear every day. In fact, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter of water in China, right behind the chemical industry.
So I’m sure you’re also wondering, what are the benefits of wearing organic cotton clothing? Well, for one, because of the absence of harmful chemicals absorbed into our skin, people with allergies have seen a major decrease of reactions and skin rashes, along with fewer respiratory problems. Others appreciate that organic cotton smells better than conventional cotton because of the absence of chemicals in the fibers. Organic cotton is also very beneficial to dress babies in because of their sensitive skin and they run the risk of the harmful chemicals potentially causing issues with their health. Even for those who don’t have super sensitive skin, most people notice and enjoy the pure softness and comfort of organic cotton fabrics.
We as consumers leave a huge carbon footprint when we choose to buy non-sustainable fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying every single garment in your closet needs to be organic cotton because mine definitely isn’t either, but by taking a step to support this movement, you are not only helping yourself, you’re helping the environment, the farmers, and people who make your clothes.
Morgan White is majoring in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development at the University of Arkansas and set to graduate next August. She is interested in journalism, fashion and beauty. If you would like to know more, you can get updates on her personal blog: Morgan Declassified.