Are Organic Fabrics Worth The Investment?
After many trips to India to spend time with the people manufacturing our designs, Founder Amy Voloshin became even more strongly committed to ensuring worker safety is considered in all aspects of manufacturing. While this does slightly affect our garments’ price, we are confident that when armed with the facts about organic fabrics, our customers will agree it’s a worthwhile tradeoff. We decided to share some information so that you can make an informed decision: are organic fabrics really worth the investment?
As a consumer trying to decide if organic fabrics are worth the investment, there are two broad categories of facts to take into consideration - the environmental impact and the social impact. There are many nuances to the environmental consequences of non-organic cotton versus organic. While there are many debates over whether organic is better or worse for the environment, you can’t argue with the damage the runoff from harmful chemicals cause to the workers and the neighboring communities. For us, the environmental impact of cotton is very important, but it’s the damage done to the communities of growers that lies at the heart of our decision.
Growing conventional cotton crops carries many health risks for workers and the surrounding communities. The fertilizers and pesticides used to protect the crops pollute the community’s water, soil and food supply. Additionally, there is the issue of large seed corporations and the devastating effects of their monopoly on communities of small growers all over the world. These commercial, genetically modified seeds are typically more expensive than farmers can afford and are not well suited to the environments they’re grown in, increasing reliance on fertilizers and pesticides. Compounding the problem is the issue of traditional cotton seeds which are typically preserved for the following growing season no longer being able to do so. Because of the GMO seed industry’s patent laws, farmers are required to buy new seeds every year – further challenging their ability to make ends meet. The end result is devastating to small farmers and their families all over the world.
Finally, while we believe that choosing organic cotton helps fashion move in the right direction, it’s important to understand that not all organic cotton is made equal. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers.
The rating system provides oversight to ensure that:
• Employment is freely chosen
• Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
• Working conditions are safe and hygienic
• Child labour must not be used
• Living wages are paid
• Working hours are not excessive
• No discrimination is practiced
• Regular employment is provided
• Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
It does take a bit of extra effort to be a conscious consumer, and the topic of organic fabrics can be a tricky one to wade through, however, after 20 years in the fashion industry, we strongly believe that as more companies move towards organic cotton, communities all over the world will reap the benefits.