Now that you recycle, conserve water and electricity, and eat organic food, have you thought about what you wear?
Cotton is labeled the world’s “dirtiest” crop because of its heavy usage of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Several of these insecticides are considered acutely hazardous to human health by the World Health Organization, and affect wildlife and ecosystems as well. The majority of the world’s cotton farmers are in developing countries where children, who are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals, the poor and uneducated work in the fields.
Projects are underway to help farmers change from chemically-dependent growing to sustainable growing, using more biologically-based and organic farming practices. Cleaner Cotton™ uses up to 73 percent fewer chemical inputs than conventional cotton. These changes benefit the grower and the environment with fewer chemicals ending up in the soil, the air and the water supply. Organic cotton protects the wearer too and is becoming more prevalent.
Other options for natural fabrics include wool, silk, linen, hemp, ramie and jute. Wearing and doing creative things with vintage clothes and fabrics is popular now.
My artist daughter buys clothes from second hand and vintage stores and restructures them into today’s styles. She also appliqués antique doilies onto t-shirts, an adorable and great way to reuse vintage fabrics. (www.wheredesigns.com).
In addition to the environmental and health concerns, there is also the issue of sweatshop labor with hazardous working conditions, exploitation, low wages, and lack of basic human rights. The next time you go shopping, think about buying vintage clothes or natural fabrics. The cost of buying less expensive clothes comes with a hidden price. By voting with our pocketbooks, we can make positive changes in the world.
Cotton information compiled from a 2007 report from the Environmental Justice Foundation with Pesticide Action Network, UK.