One of the questions I get asked a lot is "Why do you bang on about organic cotton so much?"
The truth is I am quite passionate about fashion being sustainable! And in no way should fashion be throw away!
Anyone that knows me will tell you my wardrobe is 95% second hand. I love finding second hand clothing in charity shops and ebay- they always still have plenty of life left in them. I'm so passionate about not wasting clothing, that when my clothes do finally fall apart, I put the scraps into my sewing bag for future projects. When I got married I even made bunting out of my old clothes - it looked great (even if I do say so myself) and there was a memory and a story behind each piece of fabric. That bunting still gets brought out for celebrations now. I love it- and I love being able to reminisce on the stories behind the fabric with my children.
My husband and I joke about our wardrobes- we've realised that we save clothes till they're way past their last-legs. We realised that some of my husbands undies are at least ten years old. And in general, anything *new* to me, is never really new, as it's second or third hand. Before anyone in the family takes a bag of clothes to the charity shop they check to see if we want anything first. Some of my best loved jeans are hand me downs from my bother in law (a fact he probably won't appreciate).
However, the truth is I have been also buying organic cotton clothing for years. What first properly got me into organic cotton was my children. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I decided before she was born, that I wanted to use reusable nappies; and getting into the world of reusables can take you down a rabbit hole when you start to research. There are so many benefits to reusables (which I'll save for another blog post) but in discovering this, I also discovered the many many benefits to organic cotton. I always knew there was a benefit, but not quite the extent.
When the children came along, I happily delved into the world of reusables and merrily accepted piles of second hand clothes- and still do. And, I also make sure everything that still has life left in it gets passed along. I've passed clothes back and forth between children, and handed stuff onto friends and family. It's heart-warming to see clothes I loved on my two being worn again. But, every now and then, I need to buy something for them, or I need to update the decades old t-shirts in my husbands wardrobe; and when I do, my go to whenever I can, has been organic cotton.
Why? Well for one, organic cotton is way more environmentally friendly. There are no toxic chemicals used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn’t damage the soil, it has less impact on the air quality, and uses 88% less water than conventional cotton and 62% less energy. A fact I still find astounding! Conventional cotton growing uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides.
Secondly, another important factor; growing organic cotton promotes a safer work environment & provides a better livelihood for the individuals growing it. Growing organic cotton keeps farmers and their families far safer than growing conventional cotton, as they are not exposed to toxic chemicals in the field, or through their food and water supply. It also means farmers can grow more than one crop which supplements their food and income.
Another benefit to using organic cotton is; there are no chemical retentions from organic cotton clothing. This is because no toxins or chemicals are used in the growing process. Which means that people with allergies or with specific chemical sensitivities will greatly benefit from using organic cotton in clothing fabric. There's nothing in the cotton to irritate your skin. It feels better on your skin too even if you are not suffering from allergies or chemical sensitivities.
Another issue that always comes up when discussing organic cotton is- "but it costs so much more!" The reason is, you are paying a fair price for sustainability! When you buy organic cotton you are investing in water conservation, cleaner air, better soil and farmer livelihoods. The price for organic cotton is therefore sometimes, but not always, higher. However, with demand on the rise, more choices will become available. When I first started buying the kids organic cotton clothes there was only a few choices available and I couldn't find anything for adults. Now there is so much out there! And slowly the market and the understanding of the benefits of organic cotton is growing. I hope to the point where one day, everyone is wearing organic cotton and the conventional ways of farming cotton are no longer conventional.
So to sum up- why organic cotton? My answer would always be, why not? It's better for the environment, it's better for the farmers, it's better for you. (Not to be too preachy, as I know no-one is perfect, and I am far from it ~ but organic cotton is a damn good way to make an effort in making a change!)
*In a later blog I will discuss what lead to us making the decision to making our own clothing range when we're such keen advocates of reusing or recycling clothing.*