What is Certipur?


“Apparently, if you live until 75, you’ll have spent 25 years in bed, so it makes sense to have a decent mattress” – Marc Warren


Once upon a time, household dust was just a nuisance. Today, however, house dust represents a time capsule of all the chemicals that enter people’s homes. This includes particles created from the breakdown of polyurethane foam. From sofas and chairs, to shoes and carpet underlay, sources of polyurethane dust are plentiful.  Organotin compounds are one of the chemical groups found in household dust that have been linked to polyurethane foam. Highly poisonous, even in small amounts, these compounds can disrupt hormonal and reproductive systems, and are toxic to the immune system. Early life exposure has been shown to disrupt brain development.

There was  no way before 2008 for consumers to find out what was inside foam used in bedding and upholstered furniture. The CertiPUR-US® program provides information whether the flexible polyurethane foam meets standards for content, emissions and durability and are analyzed by independent, accredited laboratories. As a result, foam producers from all countries today participate in this program, as long as they meet rigorous certification guidelines.

If you buy a CertiPUR-US certified mattress or upholstery furniture, you can rest assured about below facts:

  • Made without ozone depleters.  The CertiPUR label prohibits the use of any CFCs or other ozone depleters in the foam manufacturing process.
  • Made without PBDE flame retardants.  This has just recently been increased (as of October 25, 2016) to include other flame retardants such as pentaBDE, octaBDE , decaBDE, TRIS, TDCPP and TEPA.
  • Made without mercury, lead or other heavy metals.    Heavy metals are not commonly used to make polyurethane foam.
  • Made without formaldehyde.
  • Made without phthalates.  Of 29 possible phthalates, CertiPUR prohibits seven.
  • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality.

The certification process was developed by the foam industry in close collaboration with leading environmentalists, chemists, accredited laboratory research scientists, and bedding and furniture industry leaders. CertiPUR-US emissions and analysis methods are compatible with other standards such as Eco-label (EU), LGA (Germany), OkoTex 100 (Class IV Mattress) EUI, Blue Angel (Netherlands), IKEA, AQS Greenlabel and BIFMA criteria.

Here is list of Certi-PUR participating companies.

If you are thinking you are safe from chemicals while sleeping, you might wanna check your mattress, bed sheets, pillows and mattress covers. Who knows what are you inhaling while sleeping, unless it is certified.

It is so important to find a safe mattress for your babies. They spend most of the time sleeping and immune system works hardest in the night. You want their sleeping environment to be fresh, clean and safe.

100 years back everything you bought was close to nature, food, clothes, mattress and upholstery. What an irony, crops for food and products for manufacturing have to go through a rigorous certification to prove it is not harmful. This use to be a normal thing before, but not anymore. Kind of sad.

Please be careful and don’t get fooled by the industry and ruin your and your kids health by bringing harmful products in your home.

To stay healthy, check the health of food and products you buy. Every day. Buy less, pay more but buy safe. Use it thorough. Recycle it.

Get yourself educated about anything and everything that can affect your health. If possible, involve kids in this process and teach them how to buy healthy. They will thank you one day.

Eat Safe, wear safe and sleep safe.

References:

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com

http://certipur.us/

 

Eat Organic! Wear Organic!


“The food you eat can be either the safest and the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore


My blog has various articles on why to wear organic. Let’s talk about why to eat organic today. (Various references and study links used in this article are UK and Europe based. The implications are similar in America)

When you see the word ‘organic’ on a food label it guarantees the following:

  • Fewer pesticides
  • No artificial colors & preservatives
  • The highest standards of animal welfare
  • No routine use of antibiotics
  • GM Free

Organic means working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment – this means more wildlife! Whatever you’re buying – from cotton buds to carrots – when you choose organic food, drink or beauty and textiles, you choose products that promote a better world.

Almost 300 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and are often present in non-organic food.

In organic farming systems, animals are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive livestock farming.

Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies – there is up to 50% more wildlife on organic farms!

No system of farming does more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, or protect natural resources like fresh water and healthy soils.

The Sad Reality of Mass Production:

Perhaps an easier way to understand Organic, is to look at what it is not.

Food Waste:With mass production, comes mass demand and with that we are now surrounded by enormous farms which in turn place enormous pressure on our existing resources to produce huge amount of food, nearly a third of which is never consumed, that’s nearly 1.3 billion tons according to the FAO.

This begs the question of why we continue to sustain such an output?

Nutrient Depletion: Farmers are now using pesticides and chemicals as security to meet the production targets. They are constantly planting the same crop in the same field year after year. We are now living in a world where the foods, fruits, vegetables and grains raised no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals, like magnesium for example. We are depleting the soil, which means it is now almost impossible to be nutrient sufficient.

Food miles: On the one hand, modern farming and distribution methods allow more varieties of food to reach our shores as well as providing us with material to export and generate revenue. For example, Ireland is famous for its butter and lamb and Iceland for its fish. In addition, we are able to source seasonal food year round. Although a positive for the economy, this also means our food travels thousands of miles before reaching our plates. Every minute your food spends in transit, it is exposed to the elements. These changes in temperature, light and air cause losses in micro nutrients. In addition, many farmers now harvest their crops early, prior to peak ripeness, to allow for the long distance travel spinach lost 47% of its folate and carotenoid content when stored at 68 degrees. Most container trucks reach higher temperatures than that. The same study found that spinach lost 53% of its folate and carotenoid content after 7 days, despite being stored at 39 degrees.

Why Organic?

Better for your health: Do you really know what’s in your food? Of the food we consume, a stunning 46% of food contains residues of one or more pesticides. This figure has almost doubled since 2003. All organic food is fully traceable from farm to fork, so you can be sure of what you’re eating. There are strict standards laid down in American and European laws for any food labelled as organic it must meet certain criteria. Not only that, but it’s even been shown that organic food contains more nutrients. A team at Newcastle University found organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones. Another study, released in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed how both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products (source)

Better for the ingredient:

  • When it comes to plants, the big question mark sits around pesticides and sprays.  “Many people don’t realize over 320 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food we eat despite washing and cooking. Organic farming standards, on the other hand, don’t allow any synthetic pesticides and absolutely no herbicides such as Glyphosate. In UK, organic farmers are permitted to use just 15 pesticides, derived from natural ingredients including citronella and clove oil, but only under very restricted circumstances. Research suggests that if all UK farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%!” (Source).
  • The other big question mark sits around animals and how they are treated. Being an organic farmer also ensures the animal welfare of the farm animals by setting out clear guidelines that the animals should have access to pasture, a better diet and may not be treated with antibiotics. Farms not Factories have created a comprehensive guide to labelling on meat products to help you get a better understanding of what each label means.

Better for the planet: Agriculture is a contributor to climate change, responsible for about 14% of greenhouse emissions. However, “the widespread adoption of organic farming practices in the UK could offset at least 23% of UK agriculture’s current official GHG emissions.” (Source). Not only that, but soil is also a precious commodity, one that mass production heavily exploits. Organic farming focuses on nourishing and enhancing soil life (more info)

Better for the wildlife: Circa 17,800 tonnes of pesticides were used on British farms to kill weeds, insects and control crop diseases in 2015. The problem is that pesticides don’t just kill the target pest. They can affect other wildlife and the environment by either direct poisoning, contaminating water courses or disrupting ecosystems (source). In fact, Organic farmers are helping protect our wildlife by maintaining habitats. The soil association reports that “On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms. Organic farms are also home to 30% more species on average.” (source)

Why does organic cost more? 

While organic food is sometimes more expensive than non-organic, there are ways to keep costs down. In an ideal world, organic wouldn’t need to be more expensive. A big part of the problem is that the true cost of our food isn’t reflected in the price, both the positives and the negatives. So food that is produced in ways that may contaminate our water, or lead to antibiotic resistance in people, may seem cheap in the store, but the real cost can be very high indeed.

Where there is a price difference, you are paying for the special care organic farmers place on protecting the environment and improving animal welfare. As the costs of farming with oil-based fertilizers and chemicals increase, the price gap between organic and non-organic is closing.

References:

  • Naked Calories by Mira & Jayson Calton, page 84
  • http://irawuk.com
  • (PAN page 4)
  • https://www.soilassociation.org/media/1220/farming-and-growing-v17-4-august-2016.pdf

Buyer Aware


“Don’t blow it – good planets are hard to find” Quoted in Time


Are you aware of contents in your t-shirt?

Every one love t-shirts, they are such an easy wear. We have those comfort wear t-shirts on while doing most uncomfortable work whether it’s in our backyard, construction site or in a factory. And it’s such a comfort to slip in a white t-shirt, every night, before hitting the sack.

If you don’t have a t-shirt, a hat or a jacket with your brand’s logo imprinted on it, you are missing out on a powerful and affordable marketing opportunity. T-shirts can be your walking advertisements. They are a popular choice for advertising your company or product, your brand, for fundraising activities, charities etc. At such events they are usually free. T-shirts are also popular with fitness industries and runners love it. So it can just not be walking but running advertisement for your products.

T-shirts are inexpensive these days. They come in hundreds of colors. You name it and you got it.

Not all t-shirts are healthy though. Ask from a textiles and clothing insider, he can surprise you with inside information. So how do we know what is inside those color full t-shirts.

There is a quite a bit of coloring that basic raw fabric takes to make a colored t-shirt. That is called “dyes and chemicals”. Important to mention here is that (by some estimates) a shirt can gain 10% to 100% of weight, after it gets dyes, chemicals and various finishes on it. So if you wear a shirt without color, it might be 30% lighter in weight. And mostly that weight is “Man Made synthetic dyes and chemicals”. Now that is a lot of “synthetic and chemicals” hanging on our shoulders and hugging our body, even when we sleep.

Needless to say, we have to be “buyer aware”. A wise buying can save your skin.

The color we see on the shirt is called dyes, we all know that. What is a synthetic dye?

Below is brief introduction to synthetic dyes.

Synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum products, specially coal tar. Synthetic dyes are used extensively by textile industry. The chemicals used to produce dyes today are often highly toxic, carcinogenic, or even explosive. The chemical Aniline, the basis for a popular group of dyes known as Azo dyes which are considered deadly poisons, giving off carcinogenic amines, and dangerous to work with and also being highly flammable. In addition, other harmful chemicals used in the dying process include dioxin – a carcinogen and possible hormone disruptor, toxic heavy metals such as chrome, copper, and zinc – known carcinogens and formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen.

A significant proportion of synthetic dyes are lost annually to waste streams during textile processing, which eventually enters the environment. Textile dyes have synthetic origin and complex aromatic molecular structures that make them difficult to biodegrade when discharged in the ecosystem. Color/dye being one of the important recalcitrant, persist for long distances in flowing water, retards photosynthetic activity, inhibit the growth of aquatic biota by blocking out sunlight and utilizing dissolved oxygen and also damage the aesthetic nature of the environment. As such dyeing wastes need to be treated before discharge into the environment

The best way to color a shirt is, sadly, an area that is often neglected when manufacturers look to make their garments more ecologically sound. It’s great to see more and more t-shirts made of organic cotton, but many of their manufacturers have not stopped to consider the environmental impacts of the dyes. Many retailers and producers happily claim that they sell organic shirts, having completely disregarded how their stock has been colored.

The use of natural dyes is almost negligible and it’s hard to find a natural dyed shirt.

A report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on environmentally sound production clearly states: ‘the best option is not to dye the fabric.’ Eco-logic dictates that the less processes the t-shirt goes through, the more environmentally sound it is. An undyed t-shirt completely cuts out the coloring process, meaning the footprint of dyeing the undyed t-shirt is a big fat.

After reading this, you might think, are all the colored shirts made of this stuff? Answer is yes, most of them we see in stores today.

So what do consumers do those who have sensitive skin? What If now I don’t want to wear toxic colored t-shirt?

Below are the options we got to save our skin:

1st option- Try to look for natural fiber made undyed shirts. Organic cotton is the best option.

2nd option- Look for 100% organic cotton shirts, with light colors.

3rd option- Wear more of light color shirts made of natural fibers. They have less load of dyes and chemicals and they have stayed in the dye batch for less time. That means, dipped in dyes and chemicals for less amount of time than medium or dark color.

4th option- For fashion conscious people those who want to wear all sorts of color, look for various symbols that protect clothing to be dyed from worst kind of dyes (carcinogen and possible hormone disruptor, toxic heavy metals such as chrome, copper, and zinc – known carcinogens and formaldehyde). Those symbols are:

  1. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards)

  1. Oeko-Tex

In the textile industry, these two certifications restrict fabrics from being treated from above mentioned harmful chemicals.

5th option – Avoid most chemical loaded shirts like wrinkle resistance, stain resistance or as a matter of fact any kind of “resistance”, “repellent” “retardant” finishes. They are coated with chemicals not good for skin.

Origin of safe clothing fiber is from earth not labs.

Stay safe. Wear Safe.

References:

 

Why Natural Fibers?


“Free your mind from toxic thoughts and your clothes from toxic chemicals” – Jitin Anand


Why Should You Care About Natural Fibers?

Natural fibers can be defined as bio-based fibers or fibers from vegetable and animal origin. This includes all natural cellulosic fibers like cotton, jute, sisal, coir, flax, hemp, abaca, ramie, etc. and protein based fibers such as wool and silk. Excluded here are mineral fibers such as asbestos that occur naturally but are not bio based. Asbestos containing products are not considered sustainable due to the well-known health risk, that resulted in prohibition of its use in many countries. On the other hand, there are man-made cellulose fibers such as viscose-rayon and cellulose acetate, that are produced with chemical procedures from pulped wood or other sources (cotton, bamboo). Similarly, regenerated (soybean) protein, polymer fiber (bio-polyester, PHA, PLA) and chitosan fiber are examples of semi-synthetic products that are based on renewable resources.

Each year, farmers harvest around 35 million tons of natural fibers from a wide range of plants and animals – from sheep, rabbits, goats, camels and alpacas, from cotton bolls, abaca and sisal leaves and coconut husks, and from the stalks of jute, hemp, flax and ramie plants. Those fibers form fabrics, ropes and twines that have been fundamental to society since the dawn of civilization.

But over the past half century, natural fibers have been displaced in our clothing, household furnishings, industries and agriculture by man-made fibers with names like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. The success of synthetics is due mainly to cost. Unlike natural fibers harvested by farmers, commonly used synthetic fibers are mass produced from petrochemicals to uniform strengths, lengths and colors, easily customized to specific applications.

Relentless competition from synthetics and the current global economic downturn impact the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on natural fiber production and processing. That is why UN assigned 2009 as International Year of Natural Fibers aiming to raise global awareness of the importance of natural fibers not only to producers and industry, but also to consumers and the environment.

Natural fibers are a healthy choice

Most people know natural fibers provide natural ventilation. That is why a cotton T-shirt feels so comfortable on a hot day – and why sweat-suits used for weight reduction are 100% synthetic. Wool garments act as insulators against both cold and heat – Bedouins wear thin wool to keep themselves cool. Coconut fibers used in mattresses have natural resistance to fungus and mites. Hemp fiber has antibacterial properties, and studies show that linen is the most hygienic textile for hospital bed sheets.

Natural fibers are a responsible choice

Natural fibers are of major economic importance to many developing countries and vital to the livelihoods and food security of millions of small-scale farmers and processors. They include 10 million people in the cotton sector in West and Central Africa, 4 million small-scale jute farmers in Bangladesh and India, one million silk industry workers in China, and 120 000 alpaca herding families in the Andes. By choosing natural fibers we boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth and help fight hunger and rural poverty. 

Natural fires are a sustainable choice

The emerging “green” economy is based on energy efficiency, renewable feed stocks in polymer products, industrial processes that reduce carbon emissions and recyclable materials. Natural fibers are a renewable resource. Growing one ton of jute fiber requires less than 10% of the energy used for the production of polypropylene. Natural fibers are carbon neutral. Processing produces residues that can be used in bio composites for building houses or to generate electricity. At the end of their life cycle, natural fibers are 100% biodegradable. 

Natural fibers are a high-tech choice

Natural fibers have good mechanical strength, low weight and low cost. That has made them particularly attractive to the automobile industry. In Europe, car makers are using an estimated 80 000 tons of natural fibers a year to reinforce thermoplastic panels. India has developed composite boards made from coconut fiber that are more resistant to rotting than teak. Brazil is making roofing material reinforced with sisal. In Europe, hemp wastes are used in cement, and China used hemp-based construction materials for the 2008 Olympics.

Natural fibers are a fashionable choice

Natural fibers are at the heart of an eco-fashion or “sustainable clothing” movement that seeks to create garments that are sustainable at every stage of their life cycle, from production to disposal. Natural fiber producers, textile manufacturers and the clothing industry need to be aware of, and respond to, the opportunities provided by growing demand for organic cotton and wool, for recyclable and biodegradable fabrics, and for “fair trade” practices that offer producers higher prices and protect textile industry workers.

Increased customer demand for sustainable textiles and advances in technology may well increase the amount of natural fibers used. Fibers that in the past were not considered suitable for clothing can now be used. Treating jute with caustic soda, for example, improves its crimp and softness, which allows it to be spun with wool. Modern processing systems allow jute to be successfully blended with cotton. Technological developments make it possible to spin a yarn which is 3 parts kapok and 2 parts cotton and there are now techniques available to make kapok non-flammable.

Geo-textiles are another area with an increased demand for natural fibers. Geo-textiles are used to protect soil from erosion and strengthen earthworks, encouraging the growth of plants.

Surprisingly, the largest area of growth in the use of natural fibers is in the automotive industry. Plant fibers are attractive to car makers as they are light and mechanically strong, and plant fiber composites can be used instead of fiberglass to reinforce components. Molding them into shape uses less energy than molding fiberglass, which can considerably reduce production costs. The cars also weigh less and cost less to run. In addition, car seats padded with coconut fiber are more comfortable to use than those filled with plastic foam.

However, it is unlikely that synthetic fibers will ever be completely replaced by natural fibers. Synthetic fibers can be produced cheaply and in large amounts. They are easy to customize and can be made in any length, crimp or diameter. And many consumers find it more important that the clothes they wear are cheap and easy to care for rather than comfortable and sustainable.

Synthetic fibers come with lots of chemicals on them and can be toxic too. Read my articles to learn more.

We might not be able to stop using synthetic fiber totally, but we can restrict them. For our and planet earth’s good.

Resources:

http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/
http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/

image courtesy: researchgate.net

Organic Cotton Facts


Land is ultimately the most precious resource we have-  Altfrid Krusenbaum, WI


Simple definition of organic: grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals, related to or obtained from living things. Having characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

 According to the 2011 Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Farm & Fiber Report, approximately 151,079 metric tons (MT) of organic cotton (693,900 bales) were grown on 324,577 hectares (802,047 acres) in 2010-2011. Organic cotton now equals 0.7 percent of global cotton production. Organic cotton was grown in 20 countries worldwide in 2010-11 led by India and including (in order of rank): Syria, China, Turkey, United States, Tanzania, Egypt, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Pakistan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Paraguay, Israel, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Senegal. Approximately 219,000 farmers grew the fiber.

According to a report by Textile Exchange, 2010 Global Market Report on Sustainable Textiles, global sales of organic cotton apparel and home textile products reached an estimated $5.16 billion in 2010. This reflects a 20 percent increase from the 2009 market. Companies reported significant growth in their organic cotton programs, and increased adoption of standards addressing product traceability and sustainable textile processing.

In fact, companies are increasingly becoming certified to traceability standards such as the Organic Exchange (OE) Blended or OE 100 standard, tracing the organic fiber from the field to finished product. Many manufacturers have also become certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which addresses textile’s processing stages and includes strong labor provisions.

 U.S. organic cotton production continues to increase, encouraged by consumer and corporate demand, price premiums, and regulatory shifts that facilitate clear labeling for organic cotton products.

According to an OTA (Organic Textile Association) survey of U.S. organic cotton production, undertaken with funding from Cotton Incorporated, the number of acres planted with organic cotton in the U.S. increased 36 percent from 2009-2010 while bales harvested were up nearly 24 percent. U.S. producers harvested 11,262 acres of organic cotton in 2010, representing 95 percent of planted acres, and yielding 13,279 bales.

Apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100 percent organically grown cotton, or blend small percentages of organic cotton with conventional cotton in their products. There are a number of companies driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton. For a current list of OTA members with products containing organic fiber, visit The Organic Pages Online™ at OTA website.

As a result of consumer interest, organic cotton fiber is used in everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs, ear swabs), to fabrics, home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding, beds), children’s products (toys, diapers), and clothes of all kinds and styles (whether for lounging, sports or the workplace). In addition, organic cottonseed is used for animal feed, and organic cottonseed oil is used in a variety of food products, including cookies and chips.

In 2011, organic fiber sales in the United States grew by 17.1 percent over the previous year, to reach $708 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey. The future looks promising, with organic fiber products appearing in more mainstream outlets, led by large and small U.S. textile retailers alike.

Unlike food, textile products don’t have to be certified in order to be described as organic. A product claiming to be organic might only contain a small percentage of organic cotton or may be made of organic cotton but dyed using toxic chemicals which would never be allowed in certified organic products.

In order to be sure a product really is organic from field to finished product, look out for below symbols:

 

GOTS symbol: Product grown and processed to organic standards. Products carrying the GOTS symbol are made from organic fibers, have met strict environmental and social criteria during processing and have been certified by an independent, third party along the whole supply chain.
Find out more about GOTS…

  Soil Association symbol: Product certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard by Soil Association Certification Ltd. The Soil Association was a founder member of GOTS and is a quarter owner of Global Standard GmbH which manages the GOTS.
Find out more about the Soil Association…
 

OE100 symbol: Cotton in the product grown to organic standards. Product has been tracked and traced along the supply chain by an independent, third party. Contains 100% certified organic cotton fiber, but hasn’t necessarily been processed to organic standards.

  OE blended symbol: Product contains a minimum 5% of organic cotton fiber.

Organic cotton clothing will cause fewer allergies, reduced respiratory problems (no sneezing in the closets is a sign of improvement). There might not be strong scientific proofs to back up these facts. But if you consult doctors or dieticians or even your grandmother, they will always recommend organic food. Well, that’s true for clothes too. We don’t eat our clothes but our skin absorbs and inhales chemicals sitting on the clothes. Like a patch of medicine applied on skin. 

Resources:

http://www.cottonedon.org
https://ota.com
Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN

http://www.digipac.ca/chemical/mtom/contents/chapter3/fritzhaber_3.htm

Image courtesy: organicfacts.net

Safe Clothes for Kids


“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” – Frederick Douglass


Everyone wants their babies to be well and healthily dressed. We research so much, before buying clothes, to make our babies look cute. Retailers and brands have responded back to our demands for good looking clothes and today market is flooded with beautiful baby clothes. We try numerous vibrant colors varying with the season. We pick up clothes with various finishes, like water repellent and flame resistance to keep our babies dry and safe. All that for our baby to look good. As if the baby cares?

All that the baby cares is for comfort. Kids want to stay comfortable and we want to see them safe. These are the two top most priorities that come first and then come the look. And if we ignore, clothing can be dangerous for children.

Proper supervision, safe environments, hazard awareness, and participating in age-appropriate activities all help reduce the risk of clothing related injury to children.

Below are ways to protect your loved ones with comfortable and safe clothes:

  • Buy organic cotton clothes. This is the top safest choice for babies and kids. Cotton is a natural fiber and organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Organic clothing will cause fewer allergies, rashes, textile contact dermatitis and reduced respiratory problems. Organic cotton clothes are never made from GMO cotton and seed are untreated. Organic cotton made kids clothes are softest and safest for the skin. Choosing organic you are safeguarding the earth too from deadly fertilizers and pesticides that conventional cotton crop is grown upon. Organic cotton growing methods are health friendly to agricultural community and do not pose harm to human life as natural ways are used to cultivate the crops. By buying organic cotton clothes you will not only be protecting you’re your kids but also farming community.
  • Make sure the organic cotton clothes you buy are not treated with toxic chemicals. Look for safety symbols on the packing like GOTS, Soil Association etc. Read more here.
  • You might find lot of suggestions to buy fire resistant sleepwear for your kids, but stop and consider reading this first. Buying pajamas made of fire-retardant fabric for your child may sound like a good idea until you consider the chemicals added to the fabric to make it fire-retardant. A study published in August 2014 found that PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), the most commonly used fire-retardant chemicals, were linked to numerous health problems.

Researchers found the chemicals were to blame for:

  • thyroid disruption
  • early onset of puberty
  • cognitive problems
  • delayed mental and physical development

“The chemicals used to make pajamas and other consumer products flame-retardant show up in water, wildlife, and human breast milk,” says pediatrician Michael Macknin, MD.

Instead of buying flame resistant sleepwear for kids read these steps to prevent a fire in the first place.

Always keep lighters, matches, and open flames out of the reach of children. Choose snug-fitting sleepwear with tight waists, ankles, and wrists. These are less likely to contact a flame or other ignition sources. Don’t allow children to sleep in baggy T-shirts or adult sleepwear. Teach children to Stop, Drop, and Roll if their clothing catches fire

  • Remove drawstrings from the hoods, waists, and bottoms of children’s jackets and other garments. Use other closures to keep hoods fastened securely. Actively supervise young children around playground equipment.
  • Wash new clothes before your kids wear them. New clothes come with various chemical finishes from garment washes and bare hand handling from packing workers and store handlers.
  • Hand-Me-Down Clothes is the most eco friendly option. The clothes are washed enough to wash out all the chemicals from it. They are kid of pre-tested for safety or any allergic reactions Kids wear clothes and they outgrow them fast. This is the greenest way to get gently used, pre-tested, earth friendly clothes. In case you don’t have access to hand-me-down clothes, consider getting gently used clothes from clothes swap parties.

Try second hand clothes; you can easily get away with it especially when your child is an infant. A friend, neighbor, or colleague with a slightly older child may happily pass along their child’s too-small duds to a willing recipient. You can also scout for tag sales and thrift or consignment stores. Babies go through clothes so quickly that the small stuff is almost always in good condition.

Inspect any used clothing for unraveling thread, loose buttons or snaps, or scratchy appliqués and elastic bands. Don’t dress your child in anything that’s not as good as new or that appears unsafe to you especially anything with drawstrings of any kind. Don’t forget to wash used clothes. You can soak them in baking soda or try putting a cup of vinegar or lemon juice in your washing machine. If you are discarding some clothes then never trash. Donate them or recycle them. Drop it at a thrift store and enjoy the tax benefit.

  • Consider safety first. Be wary of tiny buttons, hooks, snaps, pom-poms, bows, and appliqués. They can be choking hazards. Routinely check clothes and fasteners for these loose items. Some clothing with heat-transferred or “tagless” labels may be associated with rashes. Avoid loosely knitted clothes—sweaters, booties, or hats—that might trap a baby’s tiny fingers or toes. Cut all dangling threads before your baby wears a garment and avoid clothing that has seams with very few stitches per inch. Before you put socks or booties on your baby, turn them inside out to look for small threads that could capture toes. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Make kids clothes last. You will feel good about passing clothes on when your kid outgrows them and it’s always a good thing. Someone else will get the benefit out of it and you can even share the experience of those clothes with whomever you pass them. Since they will be multiple times washed so it reduces the risk of any leftover chemicals in them too.

Injuries are not accidents, they are predictable and preventable! Keep safety and comfort first.

Resources:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/can-wearing-fire-retardant-pajamas-affect-your-childs-health/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/baby-clothes/buying-guide.htm

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Clothing-and-Accessories/

Image Courtesy: Pixabay.com

This Product May Damage Your Health

 


 “Sorry, there´s no magic bullet. You gotta eat healthy and live healthy to be healthy and look healthy. End of story.” ― Morgan Spurlock, “Don’t Eat This Book”


“This product may damage your health”

How about this warning on a clothing label? Can clothing or apparel damage your health? Yes, they can. Let me explain how.

Skin is our largest and most sensitive body organ. Our skin is biggest eliminative organ in body too. If the toxins are not released from your body in a proper way as nature intends, it can result in a health issue. Toxins store in body fat and body organs.

Now name a product that stays on our skin most of the time? You are right. Clothes.

Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN in their book “Killer Clothes” state, “Synthetic-fiber clothing is worn with an illusion of safety but hides invisible chemical and other dangers that clothing manufacturers and much of the world’s health-care industry ignores, or attempts to rationalize away” They further state that when toxins enter the body through the mouth and end up in the intestines, they are channeled by the blood into liver, where detoxification naturally occurs. When toxins are absorbed through the skin, however, they bypass the liver.

Greenpeace’s Toxic thread campaign state’s that a total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012 in 29 countries and regions worldwide from authorized retailers. The chemicals found included high levels of toxic phthalatesin four of the garments, and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes in two garments. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) were found in 89 garments (just under two thirds of those tested). In addition, the presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested. As inherently hazardous substances, any use of NPEs, phthalates, or azo dyes that can release cancer-causing amines, is unacceptable.

DermNet, a New Zealand based trust presents facts about the skin for consumers on their websiteDermNetNZ.org. Run by famous dermatologist, DermNet explains “Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin induced by chemicals that directly damage the skin and by specific sensitivity in the case of allergic contact dermatitis”. Allergic skin reactions to clothing is most often a result of the formaldehyde finishing resins, dyes, glues, chemical additives and tanning agents used in processing the fabric or clothing. Cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been reported because of various fabric additives.

 Remember, “What goes on the skin, goes in the skin”.

Below are the chemicals in various clothes and clothing/accessory examples that cause harm to skin:

  • Formaldehyde resins used in fabrics to make them wrinkle-resistant.
  • Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) used in textile and fur dyes
  • Azo and anthraquinone based dispersal dyes. These dyes are loosely bound to the fabric structure and can easily rub off onto the skin. They are rarely used in textiles nowadays
  • Flame retardants
  • Other contact allergens that may be incorporated into the fabric of clothing and cause contact dermatitis include chrome, cobalt, latex and rubber accelerators.
  • Metallic fasteners and elastic in clothing can also cause contact dermatitis where they are in contact with skin. Metallic stud fasteners on blue jeans are a common cause of nickel dermatitis.
  • Prickly heat rash, miliaria rubra, develops when workers are not acclimated to hot environments. Fabrics that do not breathe, such as synthetic fabrics, or tight 3 protective clothing, can become soaked with perspiration.
  • Plastic or synthetic fibers as acrylic, orlon, polyvinyl resins or spandex are used in diapers, socks and girdles. The irritant may be due to mercaptobenzothiazole causing contact dermatitis, cause from the material itself, the dye or due to the finish of the fabric.
  • Spandex is a non-rubber, stretchable, polyurethane fiber which is used in various fabrics for stretch like women’s leggings, clothing for sports, socks, brassieres, and girdles. The sensitizer in these fabrics is mercaptobenzothiazole. (Sensitizers are materials that can cause severe skin and/or respiratory responses in a sensitized worker after exposure to a very small amount of the material)
  • Remnants of bar soaps or powdered soaps on washed clothing is an important cause of dermatitis especially the underwear.
  • AZO dyes and disperse dyes dyed clothes contain heavy metals like chromium, cobalt, copper, nickel, mercury, lead, antimony and arsenic.

There is enough study that proves above facts are right. Still none of the products come with labels with warning sign saying “This product may damage your health”.

Other products known to cause damage to health are listed below:

  • Tight synthetic (or any) underwear and innerwear: Genital area is most sensitive part of human body for chemicals absorption. In case of men, New York University’s dermatology medical journal suggests “The scrotum (pouch of skin containing testicles) must be recognized as a skin area with remarkable permeability. It provides a unique percutaneous doorway for the entrance of drugs into the system and is thus uniquely susceptible to toxic and irritant agents”. American Journal of Public Health suggests “wearing of tight fitting clothing, coupled with nylon underwear and/or a panty hose, creates more warmth and moisture in the vaginal and cervical areas, thus producing an environment favorable for colonization of Candida albicans and other yeasts”.
  • “Wrinkle resistance” “non-iron” “stain repellent” “water repellent” or any kind of “repellent” “retardant” “resistance” clothing: they have a coat of chemical on them that repels water and other stuff to enter the fabric. Some of the chemicals quoted on fabrics are known to be hormone disrupters.
  • Super tight skinny jeans and leggings: they can compress nerves and reduce blood flow to lower legs. This can lead to swelling and numbness
  • High heels are unsafe. They shorten calf muscles and increase pressure on back and knees. Avoid them as much as possible.

Poor choice of dressing sense in earlier life can lead to spinal pain, bunions and other kind of arthritis in older age.

Why does fashion industry don’t give us a warning?

Fashion industry will never give us warning until there is a government regulation in place, or until consumers ask for it. Read a success story here.

When time and again medical industry has come up with studies proving these facts as true, why don’t they do something about it? Medical industry can collaborate with fashion industry and suggest ways to improve the quality of clothing and help make healthy clothes. They always suggest us to eat right.  Why not suggest some ideas on how to wear right? After all skin absorbs toxins from clothes.

Broken ankle from high heels, clothing dermatitis from toxic clothes, numbness from super tight bottoms, allergic reaction from synthetic underwear, toxic chemicals from dry cleaning, toxic sleepwear; I mean really? Can’t fashion industry do better for our consumers. Consumer just wants good sexy look and comfort. Women want to look very sexy and desirable. Men wants to look attractive. Is it a rocket science to create those kind of products keeping health in mind? People never asked for toxic and unhealthy clothes. Fast fashion industry gave us chemicals hidden in clothes. Time to educate people on this so they can stop hurting themselves due to ignorance.

Medical industry can come forward and suggest clothes which promote good health and shoes that promotes good posture. It is no brainer.

Don’t put fashion before health and comfort.

Care what you wear.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”- Jim Rohn

Resources:

Are Your Clothes Violent Against Nature?


“There is no beauty in finest cloth of it makes hunger and unhappiness” – Mahatma Gandhi


Every piece of new clothing, if not made sustainably, can be the product of countless chemicals and dyes, all of which can be harmful to the earth, air, groundwater as well as the people making the clothing and even the people who try it on and then wear it.

It’s not easy to unravel garments green credentials.

King of synthetic “Polyester”, is most popular synthetic clothing option today. From formal to informal wear, sports to fitness, outerwear to inner wear, polyester has given run for the money to all other fabrics. Post Second World War period, polyester was considered a miracle fabric, famed for its affordability and easy care properties, relatively painless to wash, dry and iron.

Cotton on the other hand is the oldest fiber around Scientists searching caves in Mexico found bits of cotton bolls and pieces of cotton cloth that proved to be at least 7,000 years old. Cultivated since 3000 BC, cotton is unmatched by any synthetic in terms of softness, comfort and durability. Cotton is a part of our daily lives from the time we dry our faces on a soft cotton towel in the morning until we slide between fresh cotton sheets at night. It has hundreds of uses, from blue jeans to shoe strings.

Cotton and polyester dominate the market today. Together they account for over 80% of the world’s clothing output. Polyester and cotton are the two dominant fabrics in one of the world’s most polluting industries, textiles.

Polyester’s origin is in the lab and is made by melting and combining two types of oil-derived plastic pellet to create the polymer polyethylene teraphlalate. Polyester production can result in air and water emissions of dangerous substances including heavy metals, and the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Most polyester is manufactured using antimony as a catalyst, which is a carcinogen and toxic to the heart, lungs, liver and skin.

Cotton is chemical intensive crop. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 84 million pounds of pesticides were applied to the nation’s 14.4 million acres of cotton in the year 2000, and more than two billion pounds of fertilizers were spread on those same fields. Seven of the 15 pesticides commonly used on cotton in the United States are listed as “possible,” “likely,” “probable” or “known” human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency. And cotton defoliants are “the most toxic farm chemicals currently on the market,” says Fawn Pattison, executive director of the Agricultural Resources Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the use of harmful pesticides.

There is a pressing need to transform the way clothes are made. Eliminating wasteful practices, reducing electricity, water and chemicals consumption can have a positive impact on our and planet earth’s health and wellbeing. Choice of our clothes has impact on environment therefore making intelligent and thoughtful buying decisions can help to create clothing with minimal negative impacts upon the environment, animals and human welfare.

Another missing link in determining a sustainable fabric is what happens to a garment once it leaves the shop. A study by Cambridge University found that the ‘global climate change impact’ of a cotton t-shirt can be cut by 50 per cent simply by altering washing, drying and ironing

Many garments are available with blends today, mix of cotton or polyester fibers. Mixing fabrics may lend a cotton garment easy care properties and softness to a synthetic one, but it has proven a nightmare for clothing afterlife. Reprocessing a mixed fabric garment destroys the quality of the fabric, so most are down cycled to cleaning rags or insulation.

A clear, recognizable, universal labelling system for clothes enabling individuals to, say, determine how much energy and water went into making it, how many miles it has travelled, by whom and under what conditions it was made and how it can be disposed of would enable us to choose an ‘AA’ rated garment rather than an ‘F’ rated garment. Sadly, no such labelling system exists.

Retailers should do more to help us – first, by removing clothing with the most significant social and environmental impacts from the market. The government could promote sustainable clothing with fiscal incentives and initiatives. The French are taking the lead in one respect – with a producer responsibility decree that requires textile makers to provide or contribute to the recycling of or waste disposal of their products.

Instead of shopping more and more how about swapping? Keeping in mind that two third of our clothes will be sent to landfill making clothing the fastest growing stream in household waste. Swapping is a win-win situation for all parties. You can revitalize your wardrobe as often as you’d like without breaking the bank and without falling prey to fast fashion.

Clothing swap is not only a great way to socialize, it helps save the world because it’s an opportunity for all those clothes to be given at least one more round of life. Good deed done in itself. Swapping is a great way to make our wardrobe sustainable.

Below are some tips to make your closet sustainable and green:

Organic cotton: Conventional cotton uses tons of fertilizers. The scenario changes completely in case of organic cotton. Organic cotton uses far less water too.

 The main benefit of organic materials, however, is that the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms.  It saves lives, is better for the environment and farming communities.

Clothes Swapping: Exchange clothing and accessories that you no longer wear (or have never worn) for someone else’s barely-worn (or never-worn) items. Shop someone else’s closet, declutter yours and build a completely new wardrobe on a budget. The clothes may not be brand new, but they’ll be new to you.

Change Laundry Habits: Wash at 30° C, no tumble dry and limited ironing will cut your clothing footprint. Running full loads of laundry in a house hold can save 99pounds of CO2 every year. Most clothing shrinking occurs as the last 5-10% of the water is driven out. If clothing is removed when it is a little bit damp, there will be less shrinkage increasing the clothing lifespan. Avoid “wash separately” clothes. Find alternates to dry cleaning or switch to organic/ natural dry cleaning places.

Quality Over Quantity: Buy less, choose well and make it last.

Recycle and Donate: Recycle your clothes, never trash. Trashed clothes go to landfills. Earth has its own clothes, does not need ours. Donate and encourage reuse.

Sustainable closets live long!

References:

 

Understanding Terms


A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. – Franklin D. Roosevelt


Do you know how to buy clothes ethically, sustainably, eco-friendly, green clothes, organic clothes, fair trade etc.? Did these terms confuse you? Do you know what they mean? I don’t expect you to. You might read all these terms on various clothing websites and different news websites.

How can a consumers buy clothes ethically if they don’t know what it means?

Let’s learn today:

  1. Organic Clothing: Organic clothes are made of organic and natural fibers like cotton, silk, hemp, wool etc. and grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals, related to or obtained from living things. Having characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal. Organic fibers, e.g. organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. They are non GMO.
  2. Fair Trade: Fair Trade basically means the exchange of goods based on principles of economic and social justice. Fair Trade Federation works on 9 principles:
  • Create Opportunities for Economically & Socially Marginalized Producers: Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation & sustainable development.
  • Develop Transparent & Accountable Relationships: Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent & respectful.
  • Build Capacity: Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence.
  • Promote Fair Trade: Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade.
  • Pay Promptly & Fairly: Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor time, materials, sustainable growth & related factors.
  • Support Safe & Empowering Working Conditions: Fair Trade means a safe & healthy working environment free of forced labor.
  • Ensure the Rights of Children: Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education & play.
  • Cultivate Environmental Stewardship: Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Respect Cultural Identity: Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive & equitable change.
  1. Green: In apparel there are two considerations to apply to what we might call “green” clothing. The first is that it is made from natural, organically grown plants (non GMO and without pesticides or herbicides). This makes clothes organic and it must be processed ecologically to make it green. Green just does not mean organic. If organic fiber made clothes is dyed with harmful chemicals, they are not green. In fact, it’s hard to figure out if a garment claiming “green” is actually green or not. Best way is to look for universally accepted symbols like GOTS and Soil Association. These two organizations restrict. Manufacturers to use harmful chemicals on clothes,
  2. Recycled: In clothing and textile industry, recycling means that clothes are made from recycling donated and used clothes. Most of the clothes can be recycled. Below is the how recycled clothes are used:
  • Stuffed toys and pillows become car seat stuffing and automobile insulation.
  • T-shirts, sheets, towels, and clothing become wiping cloths.
  • Denim becomes home insulation.
  • Shoe soles become paving material.
  • Sweaters and coats become carpet padding.
  • Curtains and drapes become stuffing for pillows, sleeping bags, and animal beds.
  • Wool sweaters and materials become baseball and softball filling.
  • Velvet materials become jewelry box lining.
  • Leftover fabric scraps become paper money.
  1. Sustainable Clothing: Means clothing made from the fiber to finished product using least harmful and most natural materials. Also using the least energy possible to produce and distribute the clothing. Starting at the fiber, using natural, easily renewable fibers like bamboo help lessen the amount of land and energy used. Using organic cotton instead of regular cotton prevents chemicals from getting into the surrounding natural and human environments. Using fibers found closest to the end retail location also cuts down on energy consumption. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 notes, “Sustainability is about much more than our relationship with the environment; it’s about our relationship with ourselves, our communities, and our institutions.” Sustainability involves complex and changing environmental dynamics that affect human livelihoods and well-being, with in intersecting ecological, economic, and sociopolitical dimensions, both globally and locally.
  2. Eco Fashion: Clothing and other goods made from recycled materials or otherwise produced by methods that are not harmful to the environment. Eco friendly clothing provides an alternative to chemically treated clothing. ECO FASHION is a broader term used for all clothing, fabrics and accessories that have been manufactured in an environmentally conscious way.

Organic and recycled clothing, as well as garments made using the wide range of eco fabrics now available, all come under the umbrella of eco fashion. Technological developments in the textile sector now mean that environmentally friendly textiles have become a viable alternative to conventional fabrics. Eco fashion fabrics are hemp, organic cotton, organic wool, wild silk.

  1. Ethical fashion/clothing: Ethical Clothing represents an approach to producing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment. Ethical is morally right or morally acceptable.

Ethical clothing consumption not only means no harm but representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.

Ethical clothing consumption falls under below criteria:

  • Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption
  • Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights
  • Supporting sustainable livelihoods
  • Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use
  • Using and / or developing eco- friendly fabrics and components
  • Minimizing water use
  • Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste
  • Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion
  • Resources, training and/ or awareness raising initiatives
  • Animal rights

We can’t just consume our way to a more sustainable world. – Jennifer Nini


Resources:
http://www.climateclothing.ca/sustainable-clothing.shtml
http://www.smartasn.org/
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/eco-fashion

Be An Ethical & Conscious Clothing Consumer


“Sustainability means to live a life where you are not taking any more from the earth than what you are giving back. You are trying to minimize the environmental footprint that you leave behind.”- Henry, a Canadian Student (Fashion Theory, Volume 16, Issue 3)


Ethical Clothing represents an approach to producing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment. Ethical is morally right or morally acceptable.

Ethical clothing consumption not only means no harm but representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.

In the fashion industry, values are decisive in individual choices and purchasing behavior, since through fashion it is possible to communicate and express one’s personal identity point out that apparel is considered a “second skin” and the first characteristic visible to others, therefore fashion choices are important and not always based on utilitarian clothing qualities or physical needs. Instead, they are based on expressive and symbolic needs. While personal values are stable, fashion apparel is seasonable and known for the rise and decline of numerous fashion trends.

A socially conscious consumer considers their purchasing consequences to achieve social change and take into account sustainability arguments. Consumers that predominantly consider product information in relation to environmental sustainable action are therefore identified as being strongly motivated by environmental values. An example is constituted by consumers’ purchasing decision influenced by organic cotton labels on fashion items, a trend confirmed by an annual growth of the organic cotton industry by a rate of 20% since 2008 (Textile Exchange, 2010).

Sustainability is an activity that can be continued indefinitely without causing harm; doing unto others as you would have them do unto you; and meeting a current generation’s needs without compromising those of future generations Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 notes, “Sustainability is about much more than our relationship with the environment; it’s about our relationship with ourselves, our communities, and our institutions.” Sustainability involves complex and changing environmental dynamics that affect human livelihoods and well-being, with in intersecting ecological, economic, and sociopolitical dimensions, both globally and locally.

In Europe, Swedish and Nordic consumers in general are attracted to functional fashion design thereby considering a comfortable feeling more important than a visual impact, in contrast to the Italian and French concept of fashion. During the last decade the interest in ethical fashion has increased and as a result, the Nordic fashion industries in 2008 joined their forces to create an ethically responsible sourcing base, initiating a project named Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical.

Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical (NICE) is based in Copenhagen and aims to sensibilize fashion companies and consumers to ethical and sustainable issues including recycling and waste processes raised by the increasing short product life cycle, generated by the ‘fast fashion’.

See here what nice has to say: http://nordicfashionassociation.com/content/learn-how-be-nice

Ethical Consumer Group is a community based, not-for-profit organization and network based in Victoria, Australia, set up to help facilitate more sustainable purchasing practices for the everyday consumer. They educate and empower people to make shopping choices that better reflect their values and to use their consumer power to create a better world. They produce the popular Shop Ethical! pocket guide and app which focuses on the environmental and social record of companies behind common brands, and draw from our extensive database of products, companies and issues.

It would be great to have something like that in United States.

According to “Shop Ethical”, you be an “ethical consumer” by:

  • Positive buying is favoring ethical products, be they fair trade, organic or cruelty free.
  • Negative purchasing means avoiding products you disapprove of such as battery eggs or polluting cars.

The benefits to society of buying ethically are potentially far-reaching. It encourages innovative products and companies while discouraging others that ignore the social and environmental consequences of their actions. It empowers the consumer, giving you a say in how the products you buy are made, and how the company that makes them conducts its business. It can and has made a difference in the past.

The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects. Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures – the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve efficiency. Much of the world cannot and do not consume at the levels that the wealthier in the world do. Indeed, the above U.N. statistics highlight that very sharply. In fact, the inequality structured within the system is such that “someone has to pay” for the way the wealthier in the world consume. (Behind Consumption and Consumerism, by Anup Shah)

While dreams and desires feed consumer behavior, they must be constrained if sustainability is to be viable. Young consumers will need to embrace a significant shift in consumerism: no longer routinely purchasing on impulse, and no longer routinely viewing their acquisitions through the lens of short-term thinking.

Dissuading consumers from fast fashion poses a significant challenge given their acute addiction to its transient thrills. However, since identity is continually evolving, and requires a materially referential imagining of an individual’s identity, an alignment of fashion with saving the environment could make dissuasion possible.

Ethical clothing consumption falls under below criteria:

  • Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption
  • Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights
  • Supporting sustainable livelihoods
  • Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use
  • Using and / or developing eco- friendly fabrics and components
  • Minimizing water use
  • Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste
  • Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion
  • Resources, training and/ or awareness raising initiatives
  • Animal rights

Resources:

http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=2856657&fileOId=2856658
http://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerismhttps://www.ethicalfashionforum.com

http://nordicfashionassociation.com/nice

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