Is Organic Clothing the New Organic Food?

If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. 

Thanks to writer Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, you’ve likely heard this saying. Maybe you’ve even adopted it into your own life, striving for a more health-minded (and eco-minded) way of living.

The concept is simple: the fewer ingredients, the more natural your food. The more natural your food, the more ethical and good-for-you it’s likely to be. No tongue-twister preservatives, no questionable additives. Just real, whole, organic foods.

So here’s a question: If you wouldn’t eat it, would you wear it?

How Switching to Organic Clothing Affects You and the Environment

If you knew that a vegetable was the 2nd most genetically modified crop in the world, uses 25% of the world’s insecticides (just to stay alive) and 10% of all agricultural chemicals in the world, would you eat it?

Probably not.

What if we told you the “vegetable” in question is cotton, the fiber we most commonly layer against our body’s largest—and inherently porous—organ?

We wouldn’t want to wear that either.

With all of this junk jam-packed into our products, reports of sensitivities—whether to food or to fiber—have skyrocketed since the mid-‘90s. When even more chemicals are thrown into the mix, like formaldehyde and resins and artificial dyes, skin irritations are hardly surprising.

As has been covered previously at The Feel Good Daily (in the blog: conventional cotton vs organic cotton) up to 1/3 of a pound of chemicals goes into the making of a single conventional cotton t-shirt! That's likely more than your finished t-shirt even weighs.

The point isn’t to scare you.

We all wear cotton and nobody is dropping dead because of their clothes (though that doesn't apply to those working in the fields as the World Health Organization estimates that 20,000 people a year die of pesticide poisoning).

Cotton workers are constantly exposed to the chemicals required for cotton 

Cotton workers are constantly exposed to the chemicals required for cotton 

Graph by Farmland LP with data from Organic Trade Association

Graph by Farmland LP with data from Organic Trade Association

The point is: these types of stats are what led to the growth of organic food in the first place. Since 1990, just as Whole Foods Market was expanding nationwide and people started asking questions about the origins of the supersized food in our grocery stores, organic food has grown 20% year over year.

Now, organic food has reached the point of market mainstay, having expanded far beyond organic grocers and into the Wal Marts of the world.

This is what we envision for organic clothing. We believe eco fashion is about to begin its own exponential curve. 

What is Eco Fashion?

Eco fashion, also known as ethical fashion or sustainable fashion, is a "design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility"  (as defined by Wikipedia).

If there was a flagbearer for the eco-fashion movement, it would be organic cotton. 

Organic cotton is almost the antithesis to conventional cotton. It’s the cotton that is grown and farmed using ethical and sustainable methods. It’s the cotton free from chemical pesticides and rash-inducing fertilizers. It’s the cotton produced through sustainable alternatives and environmentally friendly techniques (such as crop rotation and compost) to revitalize soil and nourish crops the natural way.

If garment producers switched en mass to organic cotton, in an instant the world would be using 25% less insecticides and 10% less agricultural chemicals as a whole. 

This is why KOOSHOO didn't settle for conventional cotton when making their popular hair ties and spent a year seeking a partner to make the world's first and only organic cotton hair elastics

Eco fashion, of course, doesn’t stop at cotton. There are tons more natural, low impact fibers available (like Tencel, made from sustainably harvested Eucalyptus trees – the fiber used in the best-selling travel shawl below) that further the efforts towards eco friendly clothing production.

Going organic is a two-fold virtue: it’s an effort to do better by your body while simultaneously reducing your negative impact on the environment.

The Black Specialty Dyed Journey Shawl in one of the dozen ways it can be worn. 

The Black Specialty Dyed Journey Shawl in one of the dozen ways it can be worn. 

Organic Clothing and a Reason for Optimism

The solution to any problem starts with awareness and understanding (check out KOOSHOO's transparent look at an eco-fashion production run). And we’re on the right track, as consumer consciousness of what they put on their bodies is on a steady upswing.

Last year saw the most growth in history for the organic industry, with organic sales boosting 10.8% compared to the previous year. Soil microorganisms went up by 70%, 170,000 acres of U.S. farmland switched to organic practices, and ‘organic’ is now present in over 75% of supermarket categories.

And, much to our delight, organic-certified textile facilities increased by 18%.

Kooshoo is proud to be a part of these positive changes. Not only do they use organic cotton or sustainable fibers like Tencel in all their products; KOOSHOO products are hand dyed in the world’s only solar-powered dye house. They ethically manufacture all their garments in California and also take sustainable clothing one step further by ensuring all products are delivered in 100% recycled and/or biodegradable packaging.

Eco Fashion, The Beginning of the Curve

Malcolm Gladwell, best selling author and journalist, describes a tipping point as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

We’re getting there with ecofashion.

As consumers are learning that what they put on their bodies is just as important as what they put in, and as we discover the negative realities behind the fast fashion industry worldwide, it’s driving us towards a tipping point where ecofashion inevitably accelerates into the mainstream.

We’re pushing ahead full-throttle. Will you join us?