Is it really okay to wear pesticide-processed clothes? Eco-friendly fashion may not be trending, but it offers the wearer a lot of good rather than harm. Starting a green wardrobe begins with an eco-friendly mindset and attitude.
Our previous blog, “Expressing Mindful Living through Natural Fabrics,” discussed at length the pressing need to shift to organic fibers when buying clothes. Today we will talk about the various benefits of using natural fabrics. Just a caution: the only possible downside to using organic clothing is the initial cost when you buy them from the store. But, note I mentioned “possible” because this particular downside is debatable and can be compensated for by the vast advantages you’ll enjoy.
The likes of bamboo, organic cotton, and other natural-fiber textiles (e.g. luxurious silk) are stuffed with benefits for its wearer:
- Natural fabrics feel and look good
- They don’t cling to the body
- The fibers are tightly woven while remarkably breathable and soft
- They’re produced without unnatural processes or toxins
- They’re exceptionally lightweight – yet provide warmth & protection
- The fabrics are versatile and can be made into cotton shirts, silk gowns, sweaters, & towels.
- Natural fabrics are biodegradable *
An old and common misconception of natural-fiber clothing is that they are those unflattering off-white, baggy clothes or itchy hemps. The truth is they are sold in a vast array of styles and colors; plus, the natural properties of these fabrics actually make them hold dye better compared to manmade fabrics.
Did you know that synthetic processes had been used to dye textiles only over the last century or two? Before then, natural dyeing methods enhanced the color of garments for thousands of years; go as far back as the Biblical times to have a glimpse of their flamboyant clothing and garments.
Fortunately, a number of textile consumers around the world are gradually becoming aware of (and are opting for) high-quality organic clothing. They are beginning to see the value of breathable, biodegradable, chemical-free alternatives to synthetic fabrics that are manufactured using harsh conventional dyes, wrinkle-free formaldehyde treatments, and pesticides. *
(You may watch this if you’d like to know more about where your used clothes go and how the fast-fashion textile industry adds to Earth’s waste problem.)
What is natural fiber?
Natural fabrics are textiles/garments made from the naturally occurring fibers of animals and plants. Examples of those obtained from animals include wool, silk, mohair, and cashmere (among others). Plant fibers (such as vegetable fibers) include hemp, jute, flax, and cotton. Boasting of the varied look and feel they offer, they’ve been used for hundreds, and even thousands of years. They also have diverse and distinct qualities:
- Linen: Derived from flax plant, it is the oldest fabric known. It is washable, taut, non-allergenic and resists sunlight. It is durable, breathable, and lightweight.
- Cotton: The most versatile fabric, it is biodegradable, soft, breathable, durable, easy to care for, and hypoallergenic. It also wicks away moisture and can be made organically.
- Silk: Spun by the silkworm, this protein-based fiber is strong and durable, breathable, biodegradable, lightweight but warm, soft, natural fungal repellent, and hypoallergenic. Best of all, it has a beautiful natural lustre and drapes really well.
- Hemp: Obtained from the cannabis plant, it is very strong and durable. It is naturally resistant to mold and holds its shape well.
- Bamboo: Obtained from the bamboo plant, this fiber is biodegradable, breathable, super soft, durable, moisture wicking, easy to care for, and has antibacterial properties.
- Jute: This bast fiber is long and shiny which is spun to make rough, strong threads. It is 100% biodegradable & recyclable.
- Wool: This protein-based fiber, which can be blended with man-made fiber, is durable, flexible, warm, and dyes well.
- Mohair: Derived from the Angora goat, it is really soft to the touch with high lustre and sheen. This fabric has heat-regulating properties.
- Leather: An animal-based product, it is smooth, strong & durable, and resistant to tear. It also has high tensile-strength.
This list shows us that fibers are obtained from both animals and plants. They are then spun to produce yarns –which are made into fabrics. The textiles derived from these various fabrics can be used to make anything from upholstery and furnishings to clothing and towels. These raw materials are even used for industrial and medical purposes. [** , ***]
Recently, there’s a growing demand for soft, pliable bamboo clothing. Bamboo plants require less moisture than most others, are cultivated without herbicides and pesticides, and they grow very rapidly. *
Going back to our question earlier, are you really okay with wearing pesticide-processed clothes? They can cause irritation and allergies; and on top of that, the lifespan of synthetic garments is very short and you can throw it out after a few washes. You won’t experience this when dealing with natural-fabric clothes. They are even safe for babies, children, and pregnant mothers and don’t cause health issues, including allergies. Organic clothing smells pleasant and helps reduce respiratory problems. ****
With mindful living becoming a buzzword these recent years, so has the renewed resolve to take better care of our health and the environment.
In the end, and all things considered, going the green route by buying natural-fiber clothes is actually more budget friendly – over the long run – compared to the typical impulse buying habit by virtue of cheaper price and varied designs. If, like many thousands around the world, you’re hooked on impulse buying, could you pause for a minute and consider your health the next time you’re itching to go to the checkout with your bag of discounted synthetic clothes? Natural-fiber clothes may be costly but they go a long way – in many senses of the word.
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