You’ve just made your first eco-fashion purchase. You’re enamored with your $20 organic cotton
t-shirt and matching $40 shorts. You’re
touting the benefits of your new eco-duds to one of your friends when she whips
out a t-shirt made from organic cotton that she just bought at Big Mart for $5. Ouch!
What just happened?
with my suggestions on what to look for when purchasing truly eco-friendly
What is the source material the fabric is made
How is it processed?
What dyes are used?
Was the final garment treated with toxic
chemical finishing agents?
Were the workers who made it treated equitably
in a safe working environment?
green-washing. Big companies source a
small amount of organically grown cotton and then insert it into their current
production system. This clean,
organically grown cotton is then dyed with conventional dyes, finished with a
chemical soup of toxins to make it softer, wrinkle free, and machine washable,
and then sewn in potentially unsafe factories by workers earning subsistence
be true of every Big Mart garment labeled organic. And big box stores can weather smaller profit
margins because they’re selling greater quantities. However, if you think about all the things
that need to go into making any t-shirt, and shipping it half way around the
world, you’ll realize it is very likely that some serious corners need to be cut
to offer that shirt for $5. For organics specifically, certifications such as
GOTS, OEKO-TEX 100, and Fair Trade are also expensive to get and maintain, and
those prices have to be factored in somewhere.
to get the shirt that at least has some organic material in it than one that
doesn’t? While that may be true if those
were your only choices, there are better options. Instead of that cheap “organic” shirt, I
offer up the following alternatives:
Buy better quality, gently used items at charity
shops, thrift or consignment stores or on eBay.
Host a clothing swap with your friends and
family. How many of us have clothing
that we don’t like or doesn’t fit that’s barely worn (or in some cases still
new with the tags on)?
Save up to buy fewer, higher-quality,
lower-impact pieces. They may be more
expensive but they’ll also last longer, be better for the environment, and make
a positive impact on the workers that create and sell them.
what you pay for.