The Why and What of Organic
Organic has become a popular and common term in the past decade and has in fact gained incredible status . But what does organic mean? According to the National Organic Standards board, “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on the minimal use of off farm inputs and on management practices that restore maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” Certified Organic is a title that is given to an item only when strict guidelines, made by The National Organic Standards Board, are met. Each step in the production of the item must meet the guidelines, from the soil the item is grown in to where it is created in the processing facilities.
Now we can find even in smallest local grocery stores a section specifically created for organic products and foods. More and more consumers are demanding organic products and is the major reason that corporations and manufacturers are making the switch to producing “certified organic” products. Why is there such a huge consumer demand for these products? The simple and honest answer is for health. People choose organic for their health and also for their children’s health, their communities health and the health of their environment. Choosing organic is becoming a way of life for many people, and a lifestyle that is rapidly catching on.
Buying Organic: From Tomatoes to Clothing
Information is shaping our lives living in our ever-changing society. Information about farming practices, pesticides and carcinogens, just to name a few, has caused Americas to think twice about what they are eating. Now information about, cotton crops, pesticides and chemical treatment of crops is changing the way we think about clothing, too. Cotton is one of the largest crops grown for use in clothing production. And since it is not a food crop the herbicides, pesticides and chemicals used on it are not regulated. So you say, why is that a problem- it’s not like we are eating the cotton for dinner. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. According to an article from Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), we ingest more of the harmful pesticides than we realize. Pesticide run-off seep into our water and our livestock ingest contaminated cotton straw and cottonseed in their feed.
What about the farmer and others who work on the farms? There are very few, if any safety measures taken to protect the workers from these toxins. Certain pesticides were first developed and used in World War Two as biological weapons. Think about going to work everyday knowing you will be exposed to these types of toxins.
$2.6 billion in pesticides are used each year on cotton crops alone and the cotton crop fits the definition of a chemically dependent agriculture. Even though cotton only uses 2.4% of all cultivated land, 10% of the world’s insecticides and 25% of the world’s pesticides are used on it yearly. In other words, for every t-shirt and pair of jeans produced, 1 pound of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used. The problems with clothing production however does not stop in the field. During the conversion of conventional cotton into clothing, there are numerous toxic chemicals added at each stage – heavy metals, softeners, harsh petroleum scours, brighteners, flame and soil retardants, formaldehyde and ammonia to name just a few.
Your Baby and Cotton
So how does this affect our children? A baby’s skin is more porous and thinner than an adult’s skin. This means that their skin absorbs things very easily. Johnson and Johnson states on the their website, “A baby’s skin is thinner, more fragile and less oily than an adult’s. A baby’s skin also produces less melanin, the substance that helps protect against sunburn. It’s less resistant harmful substances and bacteria in the environment, especially if it’s irritated. Babies also sweat less efficiently than the rest of us, so it’s harder for them to maintain their inner body temperature.” This means that children are at greater risk for pesticide-related health problems than adults. Lotus Organics states that, “Millions of children in the US receive up to 35% of their estimated lifetime dose of some carcinogenic pesticides by age five through food, contaminated drinking water, household use, and pesticide drift”.
Choosing organic baby clothing for your children cuts down on their exposure to toxins. Organic clothing uses cotton that is not farmed in the conventional ways. Pesticides are not used; rather, other safer methods are used to produce the crops, physical removal of weeds instead of use of herbicides, crop rotation, physical,hand hoeing, using beneficial insects to counteract the bad and many more. Workers have better working conditions, water quality is not compromised by run-off, and strong healthy soil is built. The end product is a cotton fabric that is toxin free.
Organic cotton also has other perks besides being toxin free. It is safer, sturdier, cheaper and it feels great! Organic clothing may be more expensive when you first buy it, but when compared to the cheaper cotton product it gives you your money’s worth. Conventionally produced cotton material lasts 10-20 washes before it starts to break down. An organic cotton material lasts for 100 washes or more before it begins to wear down. This is because the cotton fibers in conventionally produced cotton take so much abuse in production because it goes through scouring, bleaching, dying, softeners, formaldehyde spray, and flame and soil retardants before it is even shipped to be cut for patterns.
Why Organic Clothing?
For a growing number of parents creating a pure natural environment is a vital decision. With our children exposed to pollutants in many aspects of life, the choice of organic fibers is another step towards natural living, both for our sensitive babies as well as our environment.
In summary, here are the top 10 reasons why organic clothing should be on your shopping list:
- It helps protect your children
- It feels amazing inside and out
- It protects farm workers
- It supports a true economy
- It prevents soil erosion
- It is a sturdier fabric
- It saves you money
- It reduces pesticide use
- It protects water quality
- It supports a healthier environment