Organic Clothing – How Do You Know What You Get?

This is a question I often get, so I thought I’d do a more in-depth discussion of organic clothing here. Let me warn you, this is not going to be the common tree-hugging point of view. When I grew up in Europe, getting an apple meant walking into the back garden and… you guessed it: picking one straight from the tree – yes I lived in the countryside for a few years as a little kid. Since then supermarkets, modern distribution and mass production took over. And with that came a massive use of pesticides, herbicides and other substances best avoided. When it comes to organic clothing, the status today is simple:

Only 4% of cotton is organic, but use of organic is on a rapid incline (growing 40 – 60% pa over the last few years).There are a lot more organic T-shirts and other garments around today than even just three years ago. Organic simply means that the cotton has been grown without the use of chemicals. This is better for the farmer and much better for the environment-you probably knew that already. Only very few clothing brands choose to be green to the core – because it’s not that easy to do. And it’s a lot more costly.

However some brands have chosen to use only certified organic cotton. The yield for the farmer is much less than when farming conventionally, so the buy price is more than 50% over what conventional high quality cotton costs, and more than four times what cheap short-fiber cotton costs. However, the benefits are enormous.

1. Better conditions for the farmer. While it’s possible to source cotton for organic clothing much cheaper the quality does not stand up, and I believe paying a fair price is important.

2. Better for the earth. While cotton at any rate consumes a large amount of water, the elimination of pesticides herbicides etc is one of the key arguments for switching to organic clothing. When you buy organic clothing you should always check the certification of the producer. However, being a conscious consumer doesn’t stop there.

3. Better for you. My early experiments with producers in India showed that a lot of the organic cotton is not fit for human bodies, it’s harsh as a potato sack to the skin. It took me seven months of experimentation across two countries to come up with an organic T-shirt fabric that is light, super yummy soft to touch and does not involve additional chemical treatment in the processing.

So when you go shopping (online or off), make sure you find those T-shirts that feel really yum to the touch when you’re looking for organic clothing.