Why Sustainable Fashions?
According to the WWF, of the 46 chemicals commonly used on conventional cotton, five are considered ‘extremely hazardous, eight ‘highly hazardous’, and 20 ‘moderately hazardous’. These are often sprayed from crop-sprayers, and the drift contaminates nearby wetlands and soil not to mention harming the people who live nearby and work in the fields.
Loads more chemicals are used in processing the cotton into cloth. A whole series of chemicals are used to soften the fibers, strip them of their waxy texture, and bleach them white. Even more chemicals are then used to dye the cotton and fix the dyes – a total of 8,000 different chemicals can go into the making of a t-shirt.
Synthetic fabrics are manufactured from petroleum derivatives. They are generally cheap due to low petroleum prices but the actual cost is paid by us and by the environment. Polyester and acrylic may give off toxic vapors, especially when new. At this point 65% of the world production of textiles is synthetic while only 35% is made from natural fibers.
Plastics are harmful to humans and the environment.
Industries that create plastic of all kinds and this is includes synthetic fabrics like rayon, spandex, polyester and acrylic, omit toxic fumes like carbon monoxide, dioxin and hydrogen cyanide. These dangerous gases cause respiratory disease, nervous system disorders and immune depression in humans.
Toxic chemicals contained in the plastics themselves like benzene and vinyl chloride are confirmed carcinogens. These and other toxins contained in plastics can cause neurological problems, cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, gastric ulcer, thyroid problems and cardiovascular disease. Plastic bottles for example may leach cancer-causing chemicals such as phthalates (makes plastic pliable) and Bis-phenol A (makes plastic hard). Bis-phenol A or BPA is a synthetic estrogen, it can affect the hearts of women and can permanently damage the DNA of mice. It makes me wonder what is happening inside all of us and our children?
Plastic bags do not just have a toxic effect they have a physical effect. Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life die because they have ingested plastic bags. Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation. Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic.
Plastic bags are not biodegradable. They simply break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both our soil and water there by entering our food chain. There is no way to know how long it would take these bags to break down. The issue is not just the physical pollution seen all over the world nor\ the space taken up in our overflowing landfills but what gets leached into our systems over the hundreds if not thousands of years they will be around.
Everybody uses plastic bags.
They are convenient and easy-to-use. But, most of us are unaware of the repercussions that are occurring and will take place in the future.
Everyday, roughly 7 million plastic bags are thrown away in Ontario. Experts estimate that up to 1 trillion bags are consumed and discarded annually word wide. That is more than a million per minute. This does not include plastic packaging and plastic films that all our food and products seem to come wrapped in. Think about not just the waste but all the fossil fuels and energy that go into making each plastic bag.
Plastic bags start as crude oil, natural gas, or other petrochemical derivatives, which are transformed into chains of hydrogen and carbon molecules known as polymer resin. Petroleum is vital for our modern way of life. It is necessary for our energy requirements – for our factories, transport, heating, lighting, and so on. Without viable alternative sources of energy yet on the horizon, if the supply of petroleum were to be turned off, it would lead to practically the entire world grinding to a halt. And to make plastic bags, about 100 million barrels of oil are needed every year around the world. This results in the depletion of this non-renewable resource.
According to the National Geographic Green Guide, bamboo is an “a priori” eco-friendly material because it’s naturally pest-resistant, requires little water, is amazingly regenerative and known to grow a foot a day. However, most bamboo fabric that is a part of the current eco-fashion rage, for example bamboo jersey, is chemically manufactured with strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide. Both have been linked to serious health problems. Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage. Carbon disulfide has been shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers. Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide can cause irritation of the skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide is a strong alkaline base also known as caustic soda or lye. In its dry crystalline form, it is one of the major ingredients of Drano.
Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities and our health, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable. Keep an eye out, these fabric are usually labeled Bamboo Rayon. Try to stick with a woven bamboo, as this will not use the rayon process for production.
Modal is a processed bio-based textile made from reconstituted cellulose from beech trees. Modal is considered a type of rayon. While rayon may be made of the wood pulp of a number of different trees, modal uses only beech wood. However renewable this resource is, like bamboo rayon, the process for production is chemically driven.
Tencel (Lenzing Fibers’ brand name for lyocell) is a new natural fiber. It is made with wood pulp cellulose from the eucalyptus tree. It uses a nontoxic solvent during its production process and close to 100% of the solvent is recovered, and what is not, is broken down in water treatment plants. Tencel uses much less water than the production of non-organic cotton, which uses 100 times more water to produce. Tencel is extremely absorbent; irritation free (very smooth on skin) naturally prevents the growth of bacteria, and is 100% biodegradable, coming from forests that practice sustainability.
Linen fibers are taken from the Flax plant. Linen is eco-friendly because it is a natural fiber, meaning it takes little or no chemical fertilizer to grow. Also, once it is harvested all parts of the plant can be used, making multiple byproducts and nothing gets wasted. Linen is cool and very absorbent and great for summer wear. It is also extremely durable and strong, the strongest of all natural fibers. While linen fabrics are not considered organic the impact on the planet is far less than other conventional fabrics.
This plant grows fast which makes it difficult for weeds to hold on so no pesticides or herbicides are needed. Hemp does not exhaust the soil which enables sustainability by leaving the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crops. Hemp has long fiber’s like linen, perfect for spinning with minimum processing and because it comes in a variety of weights and textures it can be used to produce many different articles of clothing/ accessories. Hemp is an extremely durable fabric. It is also very insulating, absorbent and improves over time with washing and wearing. It reveals a new surface becoming softer with every wash. It is also UV resistant, highly breathable, fast drying, hypoallergenic and nonirritating to skin.
Organic cotton produces less than one quarter the C02 emissions of polyester and less than half the C02 emissions of conventional cotton. Certified Organic cotton has to be chemical-free at every stage from the field to the rack. Earlier organic cloth was often slightly rougher wth a natural off-white colour however more advanced techniques use natural enzymes to process modern organic cotton.
There are always new fabrics out there so keep your eyes open!
Types of Certification
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is recognized as the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers worldwide. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire supply chain of organic textiles and requires compliance with social criteria as well. Most of the fabrics used for Elladora’s creations have GOTS certification.
The inspection and certification body for organic production in the Netherlands. SKAL is a member of EOCC, the European organic certification council. The EOCC aims to increase the reliability of control and certification activities and decisions in relation to European legislation with regard to organic production and labeling of organic products.
OEKO Tex Standard 100
**More info to come**
There are many organizations that conduct organic certifications. Just make sure you do your research if you encounter something you have not seen before!
Elladora has made a commitment to create fashions using sustainable and fair trade fabrics. The following is a list of fabric wholesalers Elladora has worked with and some basic information about the fabrics they offer.
Certifications that the mills cover the entire process from when the cotton is grown and made into yarn (knit and woven). The Cotton Mills are certified under OCIA International Organic Certification. (OCIA = Organic Crop Improvement Association International). Their dyeing process is certified with the Oeko Tex Standard 100. Product class II, for products with direct contact to skin.
When the EKO quality symbol is attached to their fabric, it means:
- The fabric’s fibers come from inspected, organic farming, from organic production methods or from NOP certified cotton.
- The fabric complies with the Control Union Certifications Standards
All organic cotton producers must meet GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) standards in their cultivation and production practices. Both land and crops must be inspected and certified by internationally reputable certifying bodies each year. Our organic fabrics are certified by Control Union, IMO and NOP, to name a few. We offer clear and solid traceability on each lot we ship.
SKAL Certified 100% organic cotton. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certified on dyeing and finishing process maintaining an eco-friendly and sustainable process.
Offer a wide range of organic and sustainable fabrics. Organic dyed as per GOTS standards. Organic cotton fabric is made from 100% organic cotton fibers, certified by GOTS etc. It is eco-friendly and good for humans and the planet. Organic cotton fabric is available in knit and woven qualities.
Ken Dor Textiles
Organic and sustainable stretch fabrics such as knitted Bamboo [rayon from bamboo], Modal and Hemp fabric, knitted Cotton and GOTS Certified Organic Cotton blends.
Near Sea Natural
US-made fabrics, working to revive the US textile industry. Only offer un-dyed or low-impact-dyed fabrics as well as color grown cottons, where the cotton actually grows in shades of brown or green. Only eco-friendly fabrics and notions (and no green washing either – we won’t sell “eco-friendly bamboo fabric” until and unless the process to make it is truly sustainable). Reduced carbon footprint with a location in Asheville, NC, centrally located to what remains of the domestic textile industry and are able to produce fabrics, from thread to finishing, within 100 miles of that location.
100% certified organic cotton laces made from start to finish chemically free and without toxin in the production.
A ribbon wholesale and retail business. They do not offer organic but do offer natural ribbons. All the ribbon is made using ethical labor and is a fair trade product.