Organic Fabric - Cotton vs. Bamboo
You may have noticed that all of my products are made from organic cotton, from rompers to leggings to PJs and unlike many of the other eco-conscious clothing companies; I do not use organic bamboo. Let’s talk organic cotton vs. organic bamboo. Are they both eco-friendly? Are they chemical free? Which one is better? IS one better because organic means good right?
Well…sort of. Let’s break it down a little (and in normal, everyday language because I’m by no means a organic farming and textiles expert.)
First, the quick and not-so-dirty on organic cotton.
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have low impact on the environment. It is free from all the rubbish toxins and chemicals used on regular cotton – which if you don’t already know is a disgusting amount and is alarming to me that we even allow it to continue in this day and age of information. The thing about organic cotton is it’s not just good for the end customer. Yes, a beautiful organic cotton garment is produced and is great to wear against your skin without fear of chemicals. Additionally, it’s great for farmers and our planet as a whole (FYI, according to the world health organization pesticides poisonings annually cause 20,000 deaths in developing countries.) The instances of cancer amongst cotton farmers is also startling and while we’re at it, we are also polluting the land, air and water systems when cotton is not farmed organically.
As far as manufacturing is concerned, organic cotton textile mills are required to meet the same quality standards as organic farms. That means safe and clean factory conditions, no child labor, fair pay, products handcrafted by adults who work by choice just to name a few.
For the user at the end of the line (you and me) organic cotton fabrics are better for your skin – plain and simple. Did you know that the CDC states that exposure to chemical residue from non-organic fabrics may cause irritation and dermatitis? Gross. Add to that that organic cotton is a higher quality cotton which means a longer and more durable lifespan.
Okay, on to organic bamboo.
Organic bamboo is all the rage in North America right now. It’s everywhere. And it’s being touted as this fantastic eco-fabric while being extremely durable and, have you felt clothing made from it? It’s crazy soft. Who wouldn’t want to wear that?
So as far as farming practices are concerned bamboo is fantastic for the environment. It’s essentially a grass and it grows like crazy. Have you even known someone who grew bamboo in their backyard? You can’t get rid of it. It grows fast and without much care or water. It’s naturally organic and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere then hardwood trees. Perfect!
It’s when we hit the manufacturing that we have a problem (and is often the part that most people kinda leave out when talking about how eco-friendly it is.) Most bamboo fabric that is part of the current eco-friendly fashion rage is chemically manufactured by essentially cooking the leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide – both of which have been linked to serious health problems. So, the workers in the factories are exposed to these factories and then that’s on the fabric. Think about it – that extremely hard, woody, bamboo into that super soft fabric? To break the material down to get that softness? Also, those chemicals need to be disposed of too at the end of the day. Is that even organic anymore? Are you fooled by that?
Other newer manufacturing facilities have begun using other technologies to chemically manufacture bamboo fiber in a way that is more eco-friendly but there is still the use of chemicals that are hazardous to the workers and environment.
Bottom line for me - it’s not just about the consumer. I want to be the change I want to see. I care about the whole picture – the environment and the production environment matter just as much to me as the baby wearing the organic sleeper.