Organic clothing certified to accredited standards helps to ensure the natural fibers are cultured sustainably and ensures the manufacturing and processing have been conducted in an eco friendly manner.
There are many problems associated with traditional textile dying methods. To start, most fibers are bleached white using chlorine. When emitted into local water systems, chlorine combines with organic matter to form trihalomethanes (THMs), a class of carcinogenic compounds that are incredibly dangerous to humans and wildlife alike.
After the textiles have been whitened, they are put through chemical dying systems using synthetic dyes. These conventional dyes are often synthesized in the lab using heavy metals and other harmful chemicals that are dangerous for those creating the textiles as well as dangerous for the environment when they leave the plant. They may also pose health hazards to the garment wearer.
Of particular concern are Azo dyes, used to give some garments their vibrant yellow, reds, and orange colors, which have been linked to cancer. Going by names such as “D&C Red 33” or “Sunset Yellow FCF,” these potential carcinogenic dyes can also be found in foods!
Despite the fact that these dying techniques are so detrimental to human and environmental health, many developing countries lack the regulations that would guard against their use. And since the vast majority of clothing sold is manufactured in developing countries where environmental laws are non-existent, this is an important factor to consider.
Thankfully organic clothing offers a solution.
The source of dye-pollution for textiles comes in three forms:
– Chemicals used to add color to fabrics,
– Methods used to fix those dyes to the fabrics,
– How the waste water is disposed once the fabrics have been dyed.
In order for a garment to be certified organic, it must be processed throughout these three phases without the use of synthetic chemicals (or only with synthetic chemicals that meet stringent ecological and health standards).
One of the simplest ways to avoid dyes altogether is to look for color grown hemp. Different processes are used to create hemp fibers suitable for clothing, some of which will preserve the natural color of the fibers – white, gray, green, brown, or black. When a garment is made with the natural color of the original hemp plant, it is sometimes called color-grown hemp clothing.
But regardless of whether you get a color grown garment or not, organic certified clothing provides the following guarantees that you would never get with conventional clothing:
– Fabrics would be whitened using hydrogen peroxide, an extremely benign oxidant as compared to chlorine
– Natural dyes are used, created from earth born sources such as earthen clays and, plants extracts
– Only low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes, water soluble dyes are allowed
– Heavy metal-free dyes
By choosing organic certified clothing made from materials such as hemp or organic cotton, you get the peace of mind of knowing your clothing has been produced in an environmentally friendly manner and is as healthy for you as it is for the planet.