Thursday, 16 August 2007

Truth and Myth of Natural and Organic Fabrics

From our August Newsletter:

There is a growing interest in natural fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp and bamboo, but "approach new fabrics with skeptical enthusiasm"People often forget that just because a fabric is made from natural fibers, doesn't necessarily make it environmentally friendly. We decided it was high time to do a little digging and find out the story behind some of the natural and organic fabrics especially when choosing fabrics for your baby.

Organic Cotton: Conventional cotton uses 25 percent of the world's insecticides and 10 percent of the world's pesticides (more than $2.6 billion worth). Organic cotton eliminates the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizer, defoliants and other toxins. Instead they depend on natural processes to increase yields and disease resistance, partly through enhancing soil quality. Organic production is also the only internationally recognised, independently assessed certification or label for cotton production - OTA

Hemp is an extremely fast growing crop, producing more fiber yield per acre than any other source. Hemp can produce 250% more fiber than cotton using the same amount of land. The amount of land needed for obtaining equal yields of fiber place hemp at an advantage over other fibers. The plant itself is easy to grow in temperate climates, and requires good soil, fertilizer and water, but no pesticides nor herbicides. Moreover, hemp does not exhaust the soil. Hemp plants shed their leaves all through the growing season, adding rich organic matter to the topsoil and helping it retain moisture. - Hemptraders

Bamboo, at first glance, sounds great: it's a fast-growing plant, not reliant on chemicals, and beautifully drapes the human form. Trouble is, bamboo plantations can displace native forests, and the harvesting and fiber processing are often polluting and unregulated. As with soy, corn, and Tencel (which comes from trees), the processing from plant to fabric is energy and resource intensive - TreeHugger

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