While it seems that as a race we are making at least some progress to being more environmentally conscious and taking care of the world we are living in, there is always more that we can do. Food industry has been shifting to organic produce for a while now, but a lot of people who are trying to live in harmony with nature disregard another huge industry that has great impact on the environment – textiles and clothing industry. It is for them that we will try to outline the main benefits of the currently most popular types of eco friendly clothing.
What is Eco Friendly Clothing?
In order for a fabric to be considered organic, it has to meet certain conditions. First of all it has to be made of biodegradable, natural materials and grown without the aid of different chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Naturally, this is not all; the clothes made of these fabrics have to be manufactured in processes that don’t involve chemicals or any environmentally harmful procedures. This includes dying them with artificial colors, or treating them with different chemicals to achieve softness or other properties.
Most of the cotton that is currently grown is quite far from being organic, even though it is, technically natural in origin. Typical cotton growing involves heavy fertilizer and pesticide use, and the chemicals get absorbed by the ground, which leads to the pollution of nearby water sources and livestock health issues. Additionally, during the processing, cotton is often colored with artificial dyes, and the excess water from the process ends up being thrown away and polluting the environment.
For cotton to be organic, it has to be grown without the use of chemicals, and it cannot be dyed with artificial colors. The coloring is not as big of a problem, as cotton comes in differently colored varieties, however the limitations regarding the use of pesticides and fertilizers result in a significantly lower yield, which can make this kind of fabric significantly more expensive that typical cotton.
Hemp has been a popular clothing material for a while now, but hemp clothes used to be a bit rough on the touch. This is no longer the case. While hemp clothing retained all the beneficial properties of the fabric, i.e. high durability and strength, it is as comfortable to wear as clothes made from other fabrics. In addition, it comes with great insulation and is very easy to wash without the addition of harmful chemicals.
Hemp has a much higher yield than cotton, which means that it is not only more accessible, but that it is also much more efficient at carbon absorption, which has a direct beneficial effect on the environment.
Soy fiber is obtained through processing of soybean hulls, a by-product of soy food manufacturing. This not only provides for a natural, organic textile, but means that less is wasted in the production of soy food. This fabric is very elastic and soft, and just like hemp, offers a decent amount of UV protection.