There is no day that we spend without wearing clothes or being in contact with some kind of fabric. Indeed, textiles play a very important role in the history and future of humanity. Natural fabrics and its manufacturing process did not change since ancient times. The only difference today is that most fabrics are manufactured using chemicals and nanotechnologies, treated with toxic substances to achieve expected physical qualities in quick and sufficient ways. Today, natural is becoming unnatural while synthetics are invading our beautiful planet and taking away our own health. Synthetic fabrics are loved by fashion industry and competing manufacturers are able to provide a vast number of synthetic garments to consumers worldwide. Everybody needs affordable and fashionable clothes! Consumerism is immense. Demand is expanding. Supply must provide! More and faster, please!
Fast fashion has pushed us to the edge where we started getting ill of wearing clothes. We stopped asking how and where our garments were made. We are so concerned about being accepted as beautiful-looking beings that we forget about risks to our environment and even own health. We buy and buy, wear and wear clothes made of unnatural, synthetic fibers made out of or with toxic chemicals. We expose our biggest organ skin to toxins every day and constantly poisoning our body by covering it with artificial and usually toxic materials. For this reason we would like to introduce you to health benefits of five natural organic fabrics, namely organic linen, organic cotton, silk, organic wool and hemp fabric. In the series we will cover organic fabrics only, because they carry much more health benefits than the ones falsely labeled “natural” on tags. It is important to mention that organic fibers are natural, sustainable, eco-friendly and are regulated by few global networking companies to maintain its superior quality. The kind of fabric you wear may impact your physical health, your mental health and your wellbeing in general. Involving more natural organic textiles in your life and daily environment may surprise you with unexpected benefits in well-being, comfort and life.
Our list of five natural organic fabrics that carry beneficial attributes to human health include: organic cotton fabric, hemp fabric, silk fabric, organic linen fabric and organic wool. We have excluded bamboo fabric from the list after reading more on how bamboo is cultivated and turned in actual piece of cloth.
Why did we exclude natural bamboo fabric from the list? No doubt, bamboo fabric comes from natural source, bamboo tree grows incredibly fast, is naturally pest-resistant and is self-renewable and sustainable plant. Bamboo tree root network is so tense that there is no need to replant it, it grows straight up again in the same location. The secret of China’s fast-growing fiber reveals itself through farming practice and bamboo manufacturing methods. Some farmers are using chemical fertilizers to increase bamboo harvest and make more money. Also, farmers are clearing more and more natural lands of old bamboo forests into new farming lands for bamboo, again! Disappearing bamboo forests put pandas on the list of endangered species as they are rapidly loosing their only food source – bamboo leaves. Ironically, buying and using bamboo fabric may directly affect innocent animal species not in the most expected sustainable way.
Although bamboo can be eco-friendly and chemical-free natural fiber it has another shady secret to speak. Another sad truth behind bamboo fabric lies in the process of producing it. There are two methods of manufacturing bamboo into fabric: the mechanical and the chemical. The mechanical method involves crushing plant into mush, breaking it down with enzymes and combing out the fibers that are later whirled into a yarn. Mechanical production requires a lot of intensive physical work, is expensive and produces a similar fabric to linen, known as “bamboo linen” that is not soft enough to be used for underwear. The only way to make silky smooth bamboo fabric is by using chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, carbon disulfide. They are harmful to aquatic life if released into water supply.
What is natural fabric? Natural fabrics are made of natural fibers obtained from nature such as plants, animals and minerals. On opposite, synthetic fabrics are entirely man-made and its fibers are produced from chemicals created in laboratories. Natural fabric list is quite short and includes cotton, linen, wool, silk and hemp fabric. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, acrylic, spandex and nylon are the most popular fabrics used in fast fashion industry. Due to modern technologies we are now able to invent and manufacture a vast variety and quantity of synthetic fibers to fulfill the demand of no-thinker humans.
Moreover, natural organic fibers are renewable resources, they decompose quickly and are environmentally friendly, durable and healthy to use. On contrary, synthetic fibers do not decompose, emit toxic chemicals to environment, do not renew and usually require a lot of energy sources to manufacture.
How to Obtain Truly Natural Organic Textile Products
Today most of fabrics labeled “natural” are in deed treated with various chemicals during bleaching, boiling, softening or dying. Understanding the growing process in detail and finding out how your beloved fabric became available to purchase at store may be an eye-opener. Always pay attention to the following factors: what pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers were used to grow, what was the process and what chemicals were involved in turning fiber into wearable fabric and finally what toxic cocktail or method was used for coloring or further manufacturing. If at any stage plant, fiber or thread were exposed to chemical substances then any fabric made of such fiber cannot be considered as natural organic product.
Do you really want your clothes to emit toxic particles into environment you breath in? What about your skin being constantly in contact with such material? How do would you feel about your favorite cotton panties that were made of cotton grown by a farmer who died of cancer due to exposure of chemicals and pesticides on his cotton fields? In fact, the production of cotton consumes 50% of the pesticides sprayed in the entire world. Wearing conventional fabrics puts you in risk of being perpetually unwell and even developing serious decease. If your body is constantly bombarded by toxins, don’t be surprised to discover sudden allergies or developing an innocent genetic illness in near future. Reducing usage of unhealthy, conventional fibers and textiles may help to improve your health and overall wellbeing. The easiest point to start is by searching for answers to three very simple questions – what, where and why – before shopping. Everything has a reason, and knowing the reason usually helps to eliminate or ease unpleasant consequences.
The most straightforward advice when looking for natural fiber clothes or fabrics would be to spare a minute on reading labels. All organic fabrics are certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). GOTS is known as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. Its quality assurance system also puts high-level environmental criteria on organic textiles supply chain. Today, a word “natural” appears on many labels but it no longer guarantees the garment was manufactured using chemical-free and ecological methods.
Another important global movement networking companies, farmers, fishermen and workers is responsible for making the world a better place to live and to work is Fair Trade. Fair Trade mission is to ensure that farmers, workers and fishermen are treated with respect, work in harmless conditions, develop sustainable living and be rightfully compensated.
Most importantly, Fair Trade helps manufacturers to obtain products and materials from ethical sources. Buying Fair Trade Certified goods help to improve visibility and credence, share trading and shopping values, maintain transparent supply chains.
This article is giving you an insight on how to choose natural textiles made of reliable organic sources. A deeper understanding of basic differences between natural and natural organic fabric may help to improve your wellbeing, slow down destructive activity on our planet and sustain a healthier environment for your loved ones. Millions of new thoughts and questions arise when you get a closer look to smaller detail of human activity and its greed for materialism. A farmer receives more money if he uses toxic pesticides on his so called “natural” cotton fields. Such cotton is no longer “organic” as its harvest is polluted with toxins from pesticides. How ironic, creating a health disruptive product provides you with better monetary compensation. Fortunately, there is a brighter side and it is inside you! The easiest way to stop this money-death circle is to question as much as you can and get a better perspective on how clothes you wear and textiles you use were sourced and what manufacturing methods were used to provide you with a piece of cloth made from bamboo tree fiber. You simply cannot weave wood-tough fiber into silky smooth fabric and then sewn it into naturally soft bamboo underwear. Understanding the whole process how the fiber was grown or created, what mechanical or chemical treatments it received to become silky smooth material or what its waste does to our environment may change your perception of your needs and your own existence. Imagine the flow of money going into eco-friendly textile industry if each one of us would purchase one piece of garment made of natural organic fibers. So, always read the label as you may be the one who now recognizes natural organic certification. Now, by realizing the consequences of conventional fabric manufacturing you may decide adding a small amount of money to sustain ecological fashion industry. Most importantly you would support and encourage eco-farmers by purchasing some clothes made of natural organic fibers. By the way, you would also enjoy health benefits without damaging the environment. Once again more money for a better product provided. If only we humans behaved and acted!
PART V: Health Benefits of Natural Organic Fabrics (V): Organic Hemp Fabric