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What is Organic Clothing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Organic clothing is clothing produced with fibers which have been produced organically, such as organic cotton, organic linen, organic silk, or organic wool. Other fibers which can be used in organic clothing include Tencel, hemp, bamboo, leather, and organic recycled fibers. In order to bear an organic label, clothing must be made from goods which pass organic certification. Factories may also add additional claims to their products, such as fair trade or cruelty free, to make their garments more appealing to consumers, but these claims are not always backed by independent certifying agencies, and they should be taken with a grain of salt.

The organically-raised components of organic clothing are farmed without the use of synthetic chemicals. Natural methods are used to manage soil quality, pests, diseases, and other issues which arise during the farming process. Some people believe that organic farming is better for the environment, because it does not release pollutants, and that it is more sustainable than conventional farming. Vegans and vegetarians may also be interested in organic clothing because it is more likely to carry humane certifications.

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Like organically produced fruits and vegetables, organic clothing involves no synthetics. Polyester, for example, is strictly forbidden for organic clothing, and the dyes used must be natural in origin as well. Historically, this has meant that organic garments were baggy, lacking the tensile strength and stretchiness of many synthetics, and that their colors were dull and tended to fade. However, when consumers became more interested in clothing produced by organic means in the early 21st century, manufacturers responded by improving their techniques, and many organic garments are fashionable, durable, long-lasting, and ecologically friendly.

Some parents like to seek out organic baby clothing, because they are concerned about residual chemicals which may be present on conventionally produced fibers, or they are worried about synthetic fibers and their children. Parents may also want to support organic farming practices and utilize organic goods as part of their overall lifestyle. Organic clothing for adults in available in a wide range of styles, from casual workout wear like organic yoga pants to garments designed for the red carpet.

Like other organic products, organic clothing can come with a high price. Organic production is generally more expensive than other farming methods, and because many organic producers are also concerned with issues like worker welfare and the treatment of animals, the precautions they observe to protect the ethical integrity of their products can translate to a higher price tag. Organic clothing companies which make sweatshop free garments, for example, must be able to pay their workers a higher wage, and that cost is passed down to the consumer.

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