In two recent posts we gave a brief introduction to the use of organic fabrics. Now let’s muddy the waters! Certifcation of organic fibers means the cotton/wool/etc that came from the farmer was organic – no chemical pesticides, livestock raised according to organic standards, etc.
However, we all know that there is a lot of processing between raw wool or cotton bols and the fabrics clothing is made from. It is possible to take organic fibers and then process them with chemicals before clothing is produced.
Here’s a quote from O Ecotextiles which helps explain this better:
The market is absolutely rife with claims about organic cotton – and believe me, I have absolutely nothing against organic cotton. But the focus (by marketers and consumers alike) is that if it’s made of organic cotton, then the product is sustainable. That’s far from the truth. We like to use the analogy of “organic applesauce” – that is, if you take organic apples, then cook them with preservatives, emulsifiers, Red Dye #2, stabilizers and any number of other additives – do you end up with organic applesauce? Just like bread – which is made from wheat which is grown (maybe organically), harvested, ground into flour, mixed with milk, yeast, salt and maybe other things, then baked – fabric undergoes the same type of transformation.
So the certifications which are often found on fabrics may only pertain to the FIBER, and not to the processing. What they mean is the fabric started out with organic fibers – but the processing, like the organic applesauce mentioned above, results in fabric that contains a high proportion, by weight, of synthetic chemicals (such as lead or mercury, formaldehyde, chlorine, or phthalates).
(see the full post here)
The world of organic fabrics is complicated, to say the least! If this is something you are looking to pursue, have a look at the links posted on the O Ecotextiles site – it’s a good place to start your research.