Greener Clothing Options

How “green” a product is goes beyond what fibers it is made from; it also takes into account the materials used to manufacture the product and how environmentally friendly the production process is. That includes the bleaching, printing and finishing techniques, and will ideally also take into consideration what happens to that product at the end of its life cycle.

  • Buy used or recycled.
    Eco-friendly clothing can be pricy, however the very greenest clothing choice is also the cheapest – buy second hand. The most environmentally responsible and sure fire way to shop sweatshop-free is to buy already-used goods. You’ll not only reduce pressure on resources and cut down on the emissions from transporting goods from factory to your shopping cart, but you’re also likely to support an independent retailer in your community.
  • Demand sweatshop-free products where you shop by filling out a customer comment card in the store or visiting the company’s website and send a message online.
  • Buy Fair Trade Fair Trade is an economic system that ensures healthy working conditions, self-determination, and fair wages for workers.
    Find online fair trade clothing at www.fairtradefederation.org/shop-online/
  • Laundry care Avoid clothing that must be dry-cleaned, frequently bleached, or washed in hot water, and you’ll do quite a bit to cut down your impact.
  • Organic cotton you’ll need to check that it is also free from chlorine bleaches and synthetic dyes.
  • Tencel is a natural, man-made fiber. It has many of the qualities of synthetics, but is made of natural cellulose found in wood pulp making it fully biodegradable. The pulp used to produce tencel is grown in tree farms, and the closed-loop production process recovers a solvent used in the spinning process and is able to re-use 99% of it. The process also uses no chlorine for bleaching, making the entire process relatively environmentally friendly. tencel makes an excellent replacement for Rayon. Worn out tencel clothing can be composted safely.
    (See http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/11/tencel_sustaina.html)

Textiles from Recycled fibres

  • Decreases landfill space requirements, bearing in mind that synthetic fiber products do not decompose, and that natural fibers may release greenhouse gases
  • Avoids use of virgin fibres
  • Reduces consumption of energy and water
  • Less pollution
  • Less demand for dyes.

Some choices:

  • Organic wool is increasingly becoming available: it is produced using sustainable farming practices and without toxic sheep dips.
  • Linen is made from flax, a traditional fibre crop which needs few chemical fertilizers, and less pesticide.
  • Hemp grows without fertilizer, is highly pest-resistant , doesn’t deplete soil nutrients, requires little to no irrigation and is easy to harvest. Hemp plants grow densely eliminating weeds. As a result most hemp by-products are now certified organic. The ecological footprint of hemp is considerably smaller than that of most other plants used for their fibres. It has naturally long fibres which require a minimum of processing. Hemp fibre is 4 times more durable than cotton. There is currently nowhere in Canada that is processing hemp into cloth.
  • Soy fibre is produced by much the same process as rayon. It is usually made from genetically modified soy, grown in the US and shipped to China for manufacture.
  • Milk yarn is made from milk protein. In April 2004, it passed Oeko-Tex Standard 100 green certification for the international ecological textiles. Cyarn milk protein fiber is healthy for skin, comfortable, with bright colors due to good dyeability, etc.
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