Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thoughts on Organic Cotton


Right. This is a post I've been wanting to write for about six years. The reason it has taken me so long to actually get something down in black and white is that my thoughts and feelings have fluctuated a bit and I was never sure exactly what I wanted to say. I'm not sure I've nailed it now exactly, but here goes...

Organic cotton sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? We have all (hopefully) read or heard about the damage done to ecosystems and communities by the pesticides that are used in the production of cotton. Now we can buy clothing and fabric that doesn't contribute to that aspect of pollution and damage? Fabulous! Or is it? Let me tell you my concerns.


Water Footprint:

About six years ago I read 'Confessions of an Eco Sinner: Travels to find where my stuff comes from' by Fred Pearce (pictured above). Mind. Blown. I can't recommend this book enough. Fred Pearce is a journalist who in this book investigates what kind of impact the things he owns has on the world. He takes lots of everyday items and investigates their production, and sometimes also their disposal. It's freaking fascinating, eye-opening and, at times, alarming. But knowledge is power and all that. 

Anyways, one of the chapters is about the environmental and social impact his clothing has, and as part of that he looks into both organic and regular cotton production. He found that organic cotton, although obviously superior to regular cotton in its lack of pesticide usage, actually requires more water than regular cotton to grow and process. Cotton production is responsible for serious drought in various parts of the globe, included the truly frightening shrinkage of the Aral sea to just 10% of its former size (pictured below). So perhaps you could argue that the 'benefits' of organic cotton are somewhat outweighed, and maybe swapping all cotton production to the organic model would have even more dire consequences.

(image source: Wikipedia)

That is the perspective on organic cotton that I have carried with me for a number of years, but it was challenged at the end of last year when I attended a talk by Gina Pantastico, the Director of Operations at Cloud9 fabrics, which took place at the Village Haberdashery. She spoke a lot about the growing and processing of the organic cotton used in their fabric ranges. She assured us that the growing methods used by their suppliers in fact uses less water than conventional, non-organic cotton production. I have no cause to think that either she nor Fred Pearce is lying, so I conclude that either some cotton growers, including Cloud9's, have figured out superior methods, or that organic cotton growing in general has improved is the six+ year period since Fred researched and wrote 'Confessions of an Eco Sinner'. 

Carbon Footprint:

What does still require a large amount of water, however, is the processing and dying of the cotton, even when the dyes that are being used have been certified as safe for local ecosystems and the workers that are exposed to them. As she described the rest of the production process, from raw cotton crop to finished rolls of beautiful printed fabric, I couldn't help but think about all the energy that would also be used to power each stage. And then all the oil used to transport the cotton at its various stages of processing and to distribute the final product. I can't see that the amount of fossil fuels burned would be much, if at all, different from non-organic fabric production. 

(image source: Cloud9 Fabrics)

Conclusion:

I sometimes feel that when the word 'organic' is written on a garment or fabric label, it is perceived by some as a magic word that absolves us from any impact that the production, processing and transportation of it has had at all. I know that not everyone has the time or inclination to really look into what is involved in fabric production (myself included, I've only read a book and a few articles over the years), but it's important not to feel like we are wearing a halo because we bought an organic product. The conclusion I personally drew from having read 'Confessions of an Eco-Sinner' has not changed after the Cloud9 talk: we really need to reduce cotton production of all types because there is no method of cotton production that is environmentally sustainable.

We need to work out how slow down cotton consumption altogether, perhaps in part by focusing on using and reusing the vast quantities of textiles that already exist on our planet. Obviously, mass-produced poor-quality 'disposable' fast fashion is a major culprit, but home-sewers are not exempt from making better choices. I'm not suggesting that everyone who sews should stop buying fabric until their stashes are all used up and their local charity shops are empty, but we sewers definitely need to collectively rein it in a bit and be more mindful in our purchasing. This is a topic that I'm going to re-visit in another post very soon (bet you can't wait hahaha!).

So bringing it back to the topic in hand. Organic cotton is undoubtedly a better choice when buying fabric for lessening pesticide-related damage and, are far as Cloud9 are concerned at least, for reducing water usage in cotton production. If we can't source suitable second-hand, already-in-existence fabric for our projects, maybe organic cotton is the next best thing for home sewers? 



Sourcing Organic Cotton:

As I say, I've been thinking about this topic on and off for six years, so why am I'm finally writing about it now? Well, I got offered some free stuff. Within a short space of time, three businesses offered me some free organic cotton to sew with and review on my blog. Now, as committed as I am to sewing with existing textiles where possible, I'm not a crazy person. I'm not going to say no to some lovely fabric that I can make a cute garment for my daughter out of. Plus, more broadly, if I/we do need to source new fabric from time to time, we need to know what's available and what it's like to make garments from.  

The three businesses that have given me fabric recently are Only Organic Fabric Shop (who gave me the maroon jersey used to make the garments in these photos which I'll blog about separately very soon),  myfabrics.co.uk (who gave me some printed jersey for a garment that is currently on the sewing table, which will be blogged about in the next few weeks) and The Village Haberdashery (who gave me some of this Small World by Cloud9 needle cord, which I have great plans for...). 

I've also seen that Offset Warehouse has some excellent organic garment fabrics and Kitschy Coo seem to be the place to go for fun printed and plain organic jersey. Any other sources that you can recommend?

So, what about you? What are your thoughts on organic cotton? What is your thought processes behind making fabric purchases? Do you think the extra expense for organic cotton is worth it? Does anyone exclusively sew with the organic stuff? Jump into the discussion, I'd love to know what you think...



37 comments:

Amy said...

A really interesting post, it's so important to help make people aware of all the varying issues surrounding cotton production. I have to agree with you when perhaps consuming less in the first place is the way to to go. I'm living in China and it's horrifying seeing all the cheap, bad quality fast fashion everywhere for a pound or two. The sheer quantity is frightening and the only way to stop fibre production being so harsh on the earth is to produce less, be sustainable about it, and make re-using and recycling the norm. It is such a huge problem.

Minnado said...

Thought provoking post. I try to sew with second hand fabrics and have been lucky to have been given a lot in the past. This changed how I sewed as I would be fitting my plans to the fabrics instead of finding and buying fabric to fit a plan. I find I don't like overconsumption in sewing and I don't read so many blogs anymore where it's all about sewing as much as possible with a lot of purchasing going on. Last year I discovered that I could buy new fabrics as end of roll donated to my local scrap store, although there is no way of knowing how they were produced, I felt this was a good way buy fabrics. I don't have experience of organic fabric, I agree that the organic label makes me think the fabric will have been fairly produced. X

Uta said...

Very interesting, Zoe! I'm quite guilty of buying the next new, shiny fabric - especially for DD, if I can't resist a cute print. I hadn't known about water usage in organic cotton, just in cotton production in general. I have, however, looked into the certification and fair-trade aspects of cotton and, as far as I remember, GOTS is a good certification that includes both. I am making a point of not over-buying clothes (just because they're inexpensive)and try to use linen and wool wherever appropriate. Linen production is as far as I know more or less organic per se, and the product is much longer lasting than cotton cloth. Wool is the magic material in cool climates, long lasting, regulates temperature and water/sweat/evaporation. It's much more expensive so I get why it isn't used much in fast fashion, but I wish there were more choice of wool fabric (e.g., merino knits) in fabric stores.

Marilla Walker said...

Fascinating! You should follow the offset warehouse blog. They had a recentish post that talked about companies who greenwash their products. There is some sustainable process involved somewhere within the product, but they do not account for the whole process and are therefore highlighting their green credentials only and duping the customer into thinking that try are buying a fully sustainable item. I have started to source second hand fabric for my printing since I came to a similar conclusion as you, being, the only way to ensure it's not having a negative impact is to use pre-existing materials. I am in no way claiming I am a human that does not have a sizeable carbon footprint though, just trying to reduce it. Xxx

Kim said...

I completely agree that over-consumption is never good, organic or not. I love to sew with vintage fabric when I can, and I consider that to be way more environmentally-conscious than anything new. The main reason I would buy something organic is to have my money go toward practices that I want to support. For example, I do buy local organic produce whenever possible, because supporting sustainable agriculture is important to me. Personally, I don't really understand what (if any) are the real environmental benefits of organic fabrics. I guess I feel more strongly that by buying fabric (as opposed to finished garments) I'm not supporting as much low-wage labor and poor working conditions, although those certainly exist in fabric production as well. I do buy "fast fashion," but I don't overbuy and I'm careful to pick items that will last. I have (and prefer) a fairly small wardrobe, but it's easy to feel like I need more/new/different. Honestly, I felt that pressure during MMMay, because I was posting outfits on Instagram, but I really just wear the same handful of things over and over! I started thinking that I needed to sew something new, but honestly, I'm perfectly happy with what I have! So, the best thing to do (IMO) is to not buy or make unless it's truly wanted and/or needed.

tialys said...

Very interesting post Zoe and the comments above just about cover what I would say in response. I was going to get on to organic food production but that would be another story!

Lauren Digby said...

Very interesting post to read! We have a topic in cotton and the environment in my textiles Alevel syllabus, and I think I would get marked down if I said that organic cotton uses more water! But from what I've learnt, it looks like there are more 'people' benefits like fairer wages for the farmers which make it better in that respect, so at least fair trade is being supported by buying organic items.

Lauren Digby said...
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Lauren Digby said...
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MrsC (Maryanne) said...

Zoe it just makes me mad! Mad that we live in a world where we have to be so vigilant to make choices that are going to have the least impact on the planet, and why? Why is it so hard to sort through the terrible choices to fin the better ones, and even then so often we are duped by corporations making disingenuous claims about their products.
Greed. Not initially of the consumer who let's face it has never really been given an informed choice until it was too late. It's in everything - clothes, appliances, foods, everything.
So yup, it makes me mad. I do what I can although it seems so little, and often I find that what I thought was a good choice is not because the company has found a way of shamming it.
I wish we lived in a world where people valued less stuff more highly, and the companies that folded were the ones causing the problems - the big chain stores full of cheap crappy clothes and processed foods will survive while small, responsible ones cannot. It SUCKS. /end rant xoxo

Knitlass said...

great post. I nearly bought a whole pile of organic fabrics from Lillestoff the other day, but choked at the last minute (Kitschy Coo's stocks some of the same lines).

I think another thing which is often overlooked is that much of a fabric's environmental impact comes from the way it is handled/treated post-production, e.g. all the washing or dry cleaning that goes on. We tend to wash our clothes a lot more these days - I remember changing my vest once a week when I was a child! - and that is important too. Whether its organic cotton or not, the way we look after and dispose of our clothes has an effect, so wearing things more than once before washing, mending and altering are all good ways of extending the life and value of fabrics. Getting the maximum value/use from fabrics is another part of the journey towards sustainability, so thinking about where it has come from and how it was produced is important but we also need to think about how we use and dispose of it.

If you havent come across it, have a look at the ellen macarthur foundation's work on the circular economy. Ideally, we should mimic natural systems which use old 'stuff' as the feedstock for new stuff. This gets really interesting with fabrics, as it can be easier to reprocess/reclaim some types of fibres than others, and some of our assumptions/norms about man-made vs natural fibres may be challenged!

sofi laurus said...

Thanks for this controversial post. It is certainly true that simply choosing organic while consuming at a high rate will not help to deal with today's sustainability challenge. However, some point I would like to add here, is that organic is (ideally) not limited to farming but includes all other steps up the textile supply chain - e.g. spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, where less chemicals/less harmful chemicals are used and factories are urged to use effective waste water treatment, which all help to reduce environmental problems in the producing countries and contributes to create a less harmful product for the consumer. Standards that include all of this are for instance GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).

As for using vintage fabric/repurposing old clothes, I’d be more than happy to see some examples on your blog – as I usually fail to create something pretty out of old stuff ;)…


Charlie said...

Hi Zoe,

Thank you so much for the fabulous article (and for mentioning Offset Warehouse!) It's amazing to see more and more sewers think about how their fabric choices effect the people who make the fabric, the environment and the people who wear it - bravo!

And also thank you Marilla for mentioning my Greenwashing article! (I'm never quite sure whether they're useful articles - so it's great to see someone has actually read it! Haha! Here's the link if anyone else fancies a peruse :) http://theswatchbook.offsetwarehouse.com/2015/04/21/what-is-greenwashing/

Charlie

xx

Kurosakuranbo said...

Very informative read, thanks.
I do think you have a really good point, it does not make a difference what we buy if we stash half of it and the rest gets thrown out really fast.
Reusing and recycling is also important.
But everybody most do what feels right for them and their life.
I choose to use second hand material, notions and such. Reuse all material until there is nothing left and make an active choice when being tempted to buy something new.

Rosesred said...

Hi Zoe, negotions on sustainable cloth and wood standards is part of my dayjob, and here's my two cents: if you are going to buy clothing or fabric, organic cotton, tencel (i think? Translating is hard😄 Anyway, i mean the sustainably produced artificial silk) and wool are best. Even taking into account fuel and water use, these have less adverse effects then most other options, and they genarally last a long time, unlike acrylics. However, there are still adverse effects: sheep destroy ecosystems, poison is used in making pretty much all fabric, and as you noted, the water use can be appaling. That said, if you are going to buy fabric anyway, please buy organic!

thisismoonlight said...

Brave post Zoe.  I'm with you on buying secondhand where ever possible and as you know have been trying to work out if there is any "good" options when buying new.  So far my reading and talking to people suggests that the benefits of buying quality natural fibres that will last and can be mended far outweighs the benefits of the "organic" cotton label.  Hemp and linen (depending on where you live) are good alternatives too.  I also feel that if you are unsure about the dyeing process used, going for an undyed product is a best. This year whilst on my no buying new kick I am looking to get a select list of fabrics and suppliers that I know I can trust. So far I have two suppliers, undyed hemp and knit merino, and at the moment, cotton is off the list, mostly for the reasons you mention above.

Jenny said...

Really interesting. I just never know what's good and what's bad for the reasons you mention about organic cotton vs regular. I just really do try to not buy more than I'll use, but I can always do better with not buying more than I need.

brooke said...

Wow I think I could write a whole post in response to your post :) Thanks for a great read.
You're right - the word "organic" is often thrown around today as a magical marketing word, even when it means nothing (think organic shampoo - it has nothing to do with the ingredients being environmentally friendly and everything to do with making you assume they are), to get people to part with their money.
I've just completed a course in permaculture and it was an eye opener! A lot of what goes on in the organics industry (both food and textile) is just as bad, if not worse, than their non-organic counterparts. If you are trying to grow a monoculture, whether it's wheat, cotton, corn or soy, organic or not, you are always fighting nature. In natural, healthy, functioning ecosystems you have polyculture. Everything plays its part. So okay, you're not spraying pesticides or using fertilisers. But what are you doing instead to support that monoculture? Employing slave labour to weed and de-pest your crop, hanging from a crane for hours on end? Transporting tonnes of compost across the country to use as organic fertiliser? Using tonnes more water? Organic agriculture is still destroying our soils. It is still imposing an unnatural and unsustainable monoculture on our land. If we don't change the way we farm, we are not going to have anywhere left to farm.
Hopping off my soap box now. I still have many changes to make in my life. I still have many guilty pleasures. But thank you for raising this topic. I look forward to hearing more!

AshleyTemp7 said...

I was just thinking last week about my fabric/environmental impact convictions and putting more sewing energy into making lasting garments for myself. Interestingly, I found myself asking "but what would Zoe do?" While I generally agree, I'm still sorting out my own feelings on the matter, but this post couldn't have come at a better time! Thanks for using your platform to put the information out there! :)

Charlotte said...

I love that you did a post on organic cotton! I try to use organic fabrics quite a bit, but certainly not exclusively. Actually, I've had trouble finding organic fabrics suitable for clothing, most of it is quilting cotton or jersey with cute prints... Too bad, I think!

French Toast Tasha said...

From what I understand, linen, hemp, and wool are generally more sustainable, ie use less water and pesticides to grow, than cotton does. But again, so much depends on the exact growers and processes used to harvest, mill, dye, etc. A couple of years ago I tried to find some wool yardage for a project that, if not organic, I at least knew where it came from and then could make a guess about what practices were used—it was so hard! Most of the fabric stores I asked were unable to find out anything beyond maybe the mill or the country their fabric came from, much less about the fiber or dye used to make it.

Lately I've been thinking that the best way to go may be to use what I can find from very small, alternative procucers, not from the mainstream at all, and hopefully somewhat local sources, from my own "fibershed." Of course, my choices will be more limited this way, and the fabric will very likely be more expensive. But, I feel like I need to put my money where my heart is, and support those who do have transparency and are making the very best choices they can. If I can even find such fabric!

I agree with those who said the best choices are to use less overall, and choose things that will last, and can be mended etc. Great post Zoe!

Jen said...

What a great post Zoe!
I'm a bit guilty of not really looking beyond the organic label, and using that as a way to reassure myself (possibly falsely) that it's ok if it's organic. I try to use 2ndhand as far as possible but sometimes it's really hard to find some fabrics eg stretch and knits seem hard to find 2ndhand), and then I will buy new, but I buy organic. I rationalise that if I am going to have to buy new, then at least organic and fairtrade haven't quite the same impact environmentally as conventional fabrics.
I put together a list of some ethical suppliers a while back, and will add the one's you mentioned!
http://mymakedoandmendlife.com/2015/01/16/make-me-a-wardrobe-2015-ethical-supplies/
Thanks for this Zoe-it's ACE!

badmomgoodmom said...

As a scientist, I have a nuanced view of organic vs. non-organic cotton. On .average., organic cotton takes more water than the conventional stuff. Given the exact same growing region and farming practices, cotton genetically engineered to consume less water will use less water.

But, then you have the pesticide issue. You can grow GMO cotton--engineered to use less water--and NOT use pesticides. That would be best for the environment, but you won't be able to label your cotton as organic.

Water use and carbon footprint are closely related. Water is heavy. Moving water around is energy and carbon-intensive.

My real beef is with the amount of cotton we consume as a planet and the amount of chemicals applied to cotton. I'm not fixated on labeling.

Remember my post about cotton? You are welcome to repost it on your blog.

cucicucicoo: ecological living said...

This was a very interesting read. I know exactly what you mean, about feeling like buying new fabric is ok as long as it's organic, but now I'm realizing that it's not quite that simple. Lisa

Philippa said...

I have given a lot of thought to the issues you raise too. I concluded that wherever possible second hand fabric or fabric taken from other garments is my first choice, organic fabric second. It's very complicated and difficult to ascertain the provenance of many items we consume...sometimes I find I can manage perfectly well without the thing I thought I needed. That's definitely an easy way to cut down on my carbon footprint!

Mother of Reinvention said...

I have been thinking about this a lot too. As a buyer of fabric I am pretty bad, I do consume probably way more than I will ever use (I bought around 20m this week alone) but am trying to shop only from those places that sell post-production left overs or second-hand. I am more concerned about the over-consumption of garments and how fashion is so throw away. If people wore clothing longer then this would surely have a beneficial impact on the environment. I try not to buy much new and am reusing old clothes to make other things or recycling them. xx

Margaret Freeman-Stubley said...

Hi

Two UK places to buy organic cotton:
organic cotton.biz (in Wales- they work with Indian producers but do a lot of their own dye/printing
www.ecoearthfabrics.co.uk/

Evie said...

This is really interesting. Thanks for posting. I really didn't know anything about cotton production previously, and it's interesting to see that the argument between organic vs. conventional spreads much farther than food production. From what I do know of the food industry, however, I tend to agree with badmomgoodmom, in that the labeling is far less important than what's actually going on behind the scenes in any of these industries. "Organic" may make us feel good, but there are many things that can be produced efficiently, ecologically, and safely without the use of chemicals/GMO etc, but because of how regulations are structured can't be called "organic". Finding out this sort of information is far more than I think we can expect from the average consumer, but it is interesting to keep in mind. For that reason I try very hard to limit my produce consumption to my own yard, or small local farmers.

I confess I'm not nearly so diligent when it comes to fabric. Right now I'm working primarily from existing stash, but it's definitely heavy on cotton and cotton by-products. In recent years I've stuck primarily to wools, linens and rayons when purchasing.

Kestrel said...

A really great post, thanks Zoe. Being a consumer aka 'being alive' in the 21st century is pretty tiring if you want to do it ethically. So much to consider. Posts like this are very helpful and the key is teaching everyone to be happy with less, essentially.

scooter said...

Ugh, yes, I have major consumer guilt on buying new fabric...but I also really struggle with getting workable recycled materials. Sure, i can make pants of secondhand/thrifted t-shirts, but for outer garments, it's much tougher to find something that both will work to upcycle (long enough, wide enough, etc) and that suits my tastes, so it actually gets worn.

I don't know where all these thrift stores are with yardage! I would LOVE to buy recycled fabrics but they're hard to find. Any tips/sources?

CharlieWensley said...

A really interesting and thought provoking post I have to admit that don't think too carefully about the path fabric has taken to get to my sewing table and this is something I will change. Something that I have found very disheartening, which you touch on, is that just because something is labelled as organic does not necessarily mean it is any better than non-organic. Not only because production methods may have other detrimental environmental /social effects, but also and this is particularly the case in the US, where there is no control over the use of the word ''organic' (it is only truly organic if it has USDA approval), it is used unscrupulously just as a marketing tool. It makes knowing what is right to do very difficult.

katherine h said...

I feel bad about the amount of water required to grow cotton, but, living as I do in extremely hot climates, I have found no fabric to be as comfortable as cotton. Even half an hour in supposedly breathable polyester gets me a bit more flustered and stressed. Occasionally I wear linen, silk and rayon, but most of my life is spent in cotton. Sometimes I wear supplex for exercise wear, but I still prefer cotton. Not wearing cotton just adds a little bit of stress to my day (Admittedly, I am a bit sensitive, and don't wear perfumes, little make-up, mail polish, anything too tight or uncomfortable etc etc)

SO I am all for improving farming, dyeing and production practices, as I can't give up my cotton.

gingermakes.com said...

Great post! This is something I think about allll the time. I'm trying to use more secondhand fabrics, although I never find yardage in thrift stores here in NYC and am at the point in my life where I really don't want to wear dresses made from bedsheets. So instead I tend to buy garments secondhand instead of fabric. But another huge goal is to make clothes that I will love and wear for years and years, and to repair things I already have, rather than clogging up landfills with my cast-offs. I love the idea of organic cotton, but cotton just isn't a very eco-friendly fiber with its massive, massive water consumption (for example, a cotton t-shirt takes, on average, 3000 liters of water to produce from plant to rack, but a linen tee only uses 14. !4!!!) I'm hoping that friendlier fibers become more widely available- things like bamboo, which requires no pesticides whatsoever, or hemp, which is illegal in the U.S. due to its resemblance to pot-- and that thoughtful people can change our throwaway culture to one where we care for and keep the things we wear.

Annie said...

I have bought organic cotton several times from organiccottonsplus.com. Their fabrics are much higher quality than I have found elsewhere. They are more expensive, which is actually a good thing since it encourages reduced consumption and more mindful purchases. We all have much too much clothing, and we home sewists are almost universally guilty of buying much too much fabric. I think it's almost unavoidable with all the cheap (affordable) fabric and the beautiful choices that are available online.

I don't suppose organic solves all the problems inherent in fabric production, but I do prefer organic if I can get it because pesticides are destroying so much of our ecosystem. That said, I am still susceptible to "good deals" and cute designs. :(

Turbo said...

Thanks for this post. I am a very careful and ecologically conscious consumer in most of my life, but I've been indulgent of my sewing habit. Over-consuming is always a bad habit! I pledge to buy less fabric and use more of what I have or thrift.

Laura said...

Interesting post. I think that if we all stopped buying so much, then producers would stop producing so much, and that would be a wonderful thing. However, that would rely on a global movement away from excessive consumerism, and I worry about the chances of that happening.

Nobody is perfect - everybody has to make decisions and live with them - I try and do the best that I can. I haven't bought organic cotton, because I've never noticed it in shops, and I don't really buy fabric online. I do try and buy as much as possible from charity shops, but I don't always do that. But then again, I don't buy fabric very often.

The problem which I think exists with the purchase of organic goods (and I'm not really talking about fabric here), is that a lot of people have the mindset of 'what does this offer me?'. With food they might try organic and think it tastes better, or assume that it is better for them, or some might think that they would prefer to pay a bit more in order to ensure animal welfare, but I don't think that many people necessarily think of saving the environment by buying organic produce.

Heather said...

Great post, thanks for getting the conversation going.
People buy organic cotton for lots of different reasons, including ecological, or because they want a pesticide-free product close to their skin. For me, the human factor is the most important: I want to buy a product which has not caused actual physical harm to the workers who have produced it for me. Whilst in the developed world we only allow pesticides which are less toxic to workers, in the developing world they cannot afford to be so choosy. And they don't usually have proper personal protective equipment when applying it either. Where I can, I buy my fabric from Organic Textile Company.
http://www.organiccotton.biz/store/index.php?route=mobile_store/information&information_id=4 , a small family business in Wales which has direct links with the producers of the organic cloth they sell, including reinvesting the profits of the company into projects which benefit the producers.
I also think that as sew-ers, we are voluntarily putting the brakes on our own tendencies towards over consumption. If I spend a day in the shops, I could come home with an armful of new outfits- and how many of them did I really need? If I spend a day sewing, I may produce one garment. And I will think more carefully about what that garment is if I have to work to create it.
And a final thought- do we actually need a stash at all? How about if we only bought what we needed, when we needed it?

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