Why Choose Organic Clothing Brands?
We’re in the midst of a plastic crisis, and we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your favorite sweater might be part of the problem.
60% of all clothing contains synthetic fabrics derived from petroleum and other fossil fuels. The demand for synthetics is growing far faster than the demand for natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and wool.
Fast fashion especially relies on synthetic fibers because they are cheap and abundant.
Aside from increasing the demand for fossil fuels and making forever-piles in our landfills, synthetic garments also harm the environment by releasing microplastics (between 700,000 and one million per garment) into the waterways every time they go through a wash.
These not only pollute water but kill fish and worm their way into our very food chain.
Synthetic fibers are obviously a big problem, but natural fibers produced through inorganic means also have their downside.
Conventional cotton is the dirtiest crop in the world due to its insatiable appetite for water and chemicals. Pesticides, insecticides (24% of all sold), and synthetic fertilizers (one-third of a pound for one measly t-shirt) all go into conventional cotton farming.
Okay, sure, but do clothes need to be organic? What about non-organic sustainable clothing brands?
And what is the difference between organic and sustainable clothing?
Well, a sustainable clothing brand might use a variety of fabrics, including recycled synthetics.
This is good from the standpoint of using materials that would otherwise go to waste, but doesn’t necessarily address the toxins that might be present in synthetic fibers.
If you’re trying to live a non-toxic natural life, clothing shouldn’t be made of synthetic fabrics—even recycled ones.
How We Found The Best Organic Cotton Clothing Brands
Going shopping for organic garments is as fun as going shopping for organic snacks (and have you seen all the crazy concoctions in the aisles of Whole Foods?!).
But what about organic clothing?
As organic fabrics are becoming more integral in the sustainable fashion world, let’s chat about what all we look for in the best organically-inspired eco-friendly clothing brands:
What does it mean when clothes are organic?
It means they’re made of fabrics made of have been grown and processed without chemical inputs (i.e. pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, dyes, etc).
The most popular is organic cotton clothing, but we’re starting to see sustainable fabrics get the “organic” stamp, too, bamboo fabric and hemp fabric.
Contrary to popular belief, “organic” extends beyond the farm. It’s a ‘seed-to–shelf’ term that applies to a product’s entire production journey. If your organic cotton clothing has been dyed with standard azo dyes, it’s not technically organic.
That’s why we also look for natural dye clothing brands.
The best organic clothing brands will have third-party certifications to back up their organic claims—though as recent GOTS certification greenwashing has taught us, even they’re not infallible.
Still, they’re the best defense we consumers currently have, though we encourage you to ask questions of the chemical-free clothing brands, too.
Supply chain and labor practices:
Being socially responsible goes hand in hand with being sustainable. When it comes to this, transparency is key.
We like to get into the nitty-gritty of each production process—where did processing take place, who was involved, how often did they work, how were they treated, how were they compensated, etc.
Fortunately, many of these fair trade brands have very detailed records about how their garments are produced and by whom.
Carbon commitments & green business practices:
Beyond using organic fabrics, we go crazy over a brand offering garment recycling programs that use reusable/compostable/recyclable packaging or offsets a portion of their emissions.
We’re also big suckers for those conscious about their water and energy usage and those that implement practices to reduce/reuse resources and emissions.
The fashion industry has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to inclusivity, sustainable fashion included, but we were happy to see some brands offering plus sizes.
Community & charitable giving:
Whether donating money or donating goods, we’re extra happy to find organic clothing brands that give back.