context: organic clothing is the production of garments that takes into consideration the environment, the health of consumers and the social aspects of the workers.
Cotton is cultivated in over 60 countries and covers an area of more than 80 million hectares, equivalent to 5% of all cultivated land. There are many environmental, health, socio-economic and structural problems associated with conventional cotton production. The production of cotton uses 25% of all pesticides consumed annually by world agriculture. Of the 300 million kilograms of pesticides used every year in countries in the South, half is used for the production of cotton. A wide range of pesticides is used to control the wide variety of insect pests that attack the plant during its vegetative stage and, being a non-food crop, cotton has attracted the most deadly and highly toxic pesticide formulations. Since the early 1980s, the cultivation and processing of organic cotton has been increasing: organic cotton is now grown in 18 countries and over one hundred companies now manufacture and sell organic cotton goods.
Danish experience: Earth A’Wear is the first shop in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, which stocks entirely ‘green’ clothes. Everything in the shop is made from organic raw materials of one type or another. For example, skirts have been made out of pineapple fibres and jumpers out of peat. Fashion accessories, such as belts, are being made out of bicycle tyres. Earth A’Wear works with Sustainable Solutions Design Association (SSDA), a consultant agency where industries, manufacturers, designers, consumers and others can obtain help and knowledge concerning sustainable textiles. The purpose of this collaboration is to expand the market of organic and environmentally friendly clothing products in Denmark.
extended responsibility: changing production patterns in the fashion and textile industries is dependent on many factors. On the one hand, the designer can put sustainable products on the agenda because designers do have an influence on the choices of raw materials and production processes. The consumer’s priority is to wear clothes that have a good design, so it is up to the designer to design clothes that people want to wear and that are environmentally sound. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the producer to make environmentally friendly clothes with reliable eco-labels acquired through certification systems. A T-shirt, which is neither dyed, coloured nor bleached is not necessarily environmentally friendly, because the production of any piece of cotton involves the use of resources, for instance growing the cotton, transporting the goods, weaving the clothes, etc. All of the resources used in the production process need to be environmentally correct before a piece of fabric can be given an eco-label. Furthermore, it is not simply a matter of buying sustainably-produced clothing but also of reducing the overall consumption of clothing. This can be achieved, for example, through buying clothing that is more expensive and of a higher quality in order to ensure that it will last for a longer time.