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Home > Feature Articles > Health and Well Being Strategies

Sustainable clothing, fabrics, style and reusability

Sustainable and organic clothing options affect your skin and the ecosystem in which products are grown, designed, produced and distributed.

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Clothing is both a fashion-driven lifestyle and an economic boon to Southern California. With a fashion industry consisting of designers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to 20 million people locally, sustainable clothing could make a big impact on our sustainability profile. Fashion is a very visible component of lifestyle choices. A growing movement focuses on eco-friendly use of less resources, recycling, healthier food choices, shopping ethically and even taking public transit.

Natural fabrics, local marketing, local sourcing of fibers, and care of the garments through their lifetime – and then recycling them when they’ve served their purpose are all part of a sustainable clothing and fashion industry.

Fashion extends beyond basic work clothing – from party dresses, denim, traditional jeans, to jewelry, skin care and make-up, the "look and feel" is all part of the fashion industry. Fashion starts at birth and continues through the entire lifespan, with opportunities for sustainability matching the industry, stitch by stitch.

Consumer choices in clothing, such as choosing organic cotton, hemp, or other low-impact raw materials can help not only provide quality clothing, but impact the agricultural system by supporting sustainable land management practices. Sustainable farming practices include reducing harmful insecticides and pesticides, reducing water usage, motivating farmers to protect biodiversity in their fields, and selling products as locally as possible.

Organic Cotton

Because of cotton's versatility, it is used for a vast variety of food and fiber products, making it one of the most widely traded commodities on earth. Cotton represents an essential component of foreign exchange earnings for more than fifty countries. Yet the simple act of growing and harvesting the one pound of cotton fiber needed to make a T-shirt takes an enormous toll on the earth’s air, water, and soil, and has significant impacts on the health of people in cotton growing areas. According to 1995 data, for example, United States farmers applied nearly one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for every pound of cotton harvested. When all nineteen cotton-growing states are tallied, the crop accounts for twenty-five percent of all the pesticides used in the U.S. (Source: Sustainable Cotton)

According to Fortune Magazine, the $300-billion global cotton industry uses more pesticides and synthetic fertilizers than any other crop -- applying more than 50 million pounds of pesticides to the soil in the United States alone. The organic cotton business remains small - less than 1 percent of the global cotton industry.

Organic farmers build soil quality, enhance biodiversity and protect the air and water on which we all depend. Designers produce sustainable organic cotton brands and retailers give their customers the opportunity to look good, feel good and do good at the same time. California’s organic cotton industry niche was an innovator in this sustainable movement, but has dwindled due to lack of consumer demand. Hopefully that is changing.

When consumers support organic products such as organic cotton, farmers who live and work on their land have personal and economic incentives to use fewer chemicals in production. Sustainable solutions improve environmental quality, enhance the livelihoods of farmers, increase profitability for innovative brands and their business partners and expand consumer choice.

You can support California’s sustainable sourcing for clothing and accessories production, by buying sustainable products that use California-grown, designed and/or manufactured cotton, as well as sustainably harvested wood, minerals, and even leather that go into the production of fashion accessories.

Sources for information

Organic Trade Association
Pesticide Action Network North America

A list of accredited organic certifiers is maintained on the USDA's Website. A few of these are: QAI (Quality Assurance International), CCOF (California Certified organic Farmers), Texas department of Agriculture,Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). All four certifiers are accredited by USDA. Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). All four certifiers are accredited by USDA.Extention/ Support: OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association)

Organic Cotton Businesses and Brands in Southern California

We will be expanding these listings as our database is implemented. In the meantime, take a peek at the range of fashion, bedding and children's products at these Southern California organic providers.

American Apparel Inc.

Blue Canoe Organic

Coyuchi, Inc.

Eastern Warmth

Eco-ganik

Ecoland Inc

BGreen

Patagonia

Water Girl USA

Pickering International Inc.

Prana

Sharibe

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Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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