What is Sustainable Clothing?

Consumers who have adopted a greener way of living may include organic foods and beverages in their eco-friendly plans. If you are one, you may be very familiar with the way organic foods are produced, including how these foods are made without the use of chemical pesticides or artificial growth additives.

 

Organic items are not limited to just food and drink. Organic and sustainable clothing has exploded in frequency and popularity, providing yet another way to help preserve the environment.

 

Currently there are developing global or even domestic standards, for organic or sustainable textiles like there are for organic produce. According to Organic Clothing, an eco-fashion resource, any product sold in the United States—regardless of where it was grown or produced—that carries the USDA Organic logo must have been inspected by a certified agent of the USDA certification program. Textiles do not need to be 100 percent organic to carry organic labeling, according to the USDA. Other labeling standards may be overseen by The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, The Organic Trade Association, and EKO/KRAV, a Scandinavian organization.

 

Clothing fibers that do not meet strict organic requirements may fall under a broader umbrella term of “sustainable” fibers. These may include garments made from recycled materials or eco-friendly, man-made fibers. These, too, have their share of benefits.

 

There are many advantages to choosing sustainable or organic fabrics and clothing. These materials may have been produced using less water, fewer pesticides and fewer herbicides than conventional farming methods. Organic cotton, for example, is produced from nongenetically engineered seed.

 

These factors combine to help keep unnecessary chemicals from entering the environment.

Clothing produced from recycled materials, such as plastics, keeps materials that are slow to decompose or those that do not break down from reaching landfills. The company ECOALF repurposes discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles, used tires, post-consumer coffee, and post-industrial wool, among other materials into functional clothing. The company notes that one backpack made from recycled plastic bottles can keep 135 bottles from littering the environment.
 

In addition to choosing sustainable options, consumers may want to research locally-produced clothing. Keep in mind that the benefits of organic and sustainable fibers may be negated by energy consumption of long shipping routes and transportation choices. Check labels to see where merchandise is produced and research the manufacturer to verify its production processes.

 

Choosing sustainable clothing is another way to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. What may have started out as clothing produced from cotton, silk, hemp, and jute has expanded to include many upcycled materials as well.

Care magazine Spring 2016

Metro Editorial Services TF162839