Organic Clothing and Our Environment
Few of us would connect the idea of organic clothing with the Earth’s environment and yet, a strong connection between the
two exists. In fact, now that global warming is becoming more of a fact than a probability, consumers need to think of the
impact on the environment of even the clothes they wear.
Have you considered what would happen if the entire world stopped buying conventional garments and instead purchased only
organic clothing? Immediately, all of the toxic chemicals used in the production of conventional clothing would begin to
disappear from the soil and the groundwater and all of the chemicals used in making synthetic clothing would be of no use.
Using organic clothing throughout the world would save thousands of lives—those of the farmers killed every year from
pesticide toxicity, particularly in third world countries. In addition, there may be a reduction in the number of people
with chemical sensitivity syndromes, which is also often related to chemicals in clothing. With organic clothing, chemical
dry cleaning would not be necessary. If buyers went totally “organic” energy wasted in conventional dryers would be restored.
In truth, however, the garment industry does participate in environmental pollution and global warming—even those who
participate in making organic clothing. Consider all of the sheep, alpaca, llamas and other wool-producing animals that
provide clothing fibers in the form of wool but that also contribute to methane gas emission from belching and animal
flatulence. Cows, which produce leather, create about 600 liters of methane per day per cow.
The growing of even organic fibers requires tractors and trucks—all of which use fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere. Improving the fuel efficiency of farm implements would help reduce such emissions.
All fibers, even organic fibers, go through a manufacturing process that relies on fossil-based energy. Petroleum-based
fabrics like nylon and polyester use additional energy in their production.
Much of the clothing we buy—organic or otherwise—uses plastic for packaging. Plastic is made from non-renewable resources
and, if not recycled, is sent to landfills where the chemicals in the plastic leach into the soil and cause harm to the
environment. Recycling of all plastic materials needs to be a must if we are to stop this process from happening.
Consider the energy costs of shipping clothing from manufacturers to the public. As a great deal of the conventional
cotton clothing is made in China, you also need to consider that most of the energy these factories use comes from
coal—a substance not very good for global warming. From there, all garments, organic garments as well as conventional
garments, need to be shipped all over the world. One solution would be to produce and purchase clothing as close to the
source of the manufacturer as possible.
Another solution to improving the environment is to purchase organic clothing and to wash them in cold or warm water. Use a clothes line if possible. A great deal of energy is spent washing clothes in hot water and drying them with high heat.
While buying organic clothing is just the beginning of what it will take to improve the environment, there are clearly
things consumers can do to do their part to reduce energy use and to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly it will
take everyone to make the biggest difference.