The word 'organic' is very common to hear these days. There are numerous advantages of including organic products in daily routine. In the present day, there are several organic products available in the market ranging from organic food to organic clothes. Organic products are part of world-wide organic agriculture movement, which stresses on farming and processing that neither involves use of synthetic or chemical pesticides nor genetically modified or radiated plants. This in turn ensures minimum damage to environment. To be termed as an authentic organic product, the goods must pass a series of tests, depending on the country.
There are different rules and regulations and certifications allotted to organic products in various countries. The demand and supply for the organic products has shown an upward trend in recent years, suggesting the strong interest of global markets and farmers in choosing to grow organic crops for textile industry.
In the bygone era, organic clothing line was associated with dull and shapeless garments. Today, the world of organic clothing has transformed for better. There are several options to choose from.
The organic clothing is available in cotton, jute, silk, kapok, hemp or wool. The demand for organic clothing is on rise, as more and more consumers are concerned about environment. According to the fourth annual Organic Exchange Farm and Fiber Report, organic cotton represents 0.76 percent of global cotton production. Though, with the global economy in doldrums, there have been some concerns raised about recent decline in organic farming, but, situation is likely to change for better.
As of today, organic cotton is produced in 23 countries and the top ten producer countries led by India and include (in order of rank) Turkey, Syria, Tanzania, China, United States, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso. Approximately 220,000 farmers grew the fibre. Countries like Germany, USA, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium etc are among world's largest markets for organic clothing. While Germany has traditionally led Europe's demand for organic cotton, with mail order companies accounting for the bulk of sales in this category, German consumption levels have recently been surpassed by those in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, demand in the United Kingdom is believed to be catching up with, or even exceeding, that in Germany, and three out of every four British High Street retailers are now believed to be offering organic cotton products. France is believed to be another booming market for organic cotton products. Several companies in these countries are promoting organic fibre to meet the rising demand of organic clothing. Other important markets are Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.
The consumer interest in organic fabrics is an encouraging factor and as a result of consumer interest, organic cotton fibre is used in everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs and ear swabs), to home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding), children's products (toys, diapers), clothes of all kinds and styles (whether for lounging, sports or the workplace), and even stationery and note cards. Manufacturers and retailers are also increasing the proportion of organic fibre used in their garments, as well as expanding their offer of 100 percent organic items.
Organic wool, jute and silk have also picked up and are popular among the consumers. Organic wool can be used in any application in which conventional wool is used like baby clothes, blankets, coats, knitting yarn, socks, sweaters, and throws. Organic silk and jute are also popular among consumers. Hemp fibres are also spun and woven in a fine, crisp, linen-like fabric and used for apparel, home furnishings, and carpeting. Hemp has anti mildew and antimicrobial properties, making it a good solution for shower curtains, rain apparel, and floor coverings.
Then there is Kapok fibre, which is harvested from the fluffy fibre surrounding the seeds of the tropical kapok tree. Also known as 'silk cotton', kapok is the lightest natural fibre in the world, with a density nearly five times as light as cotton. Luxurious apparel, bed linens, pillow batting etc are available in market made of organic fibre.
Buying organic clothing is good for planet's health and personal health. While the organic fibre is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the non-organic fibre is chock-full of such life-threatening chemicals. As per the Environmental Protection Agency, such chemicals are one of the likely causes of increasing the chances of cancer in an individual. There are other benefits of using organic apparels, one of them being, showing kindness to animal and plant kingdoms.
Some designers claim that organic clothing can improve health by reducing stress and detoxifying the body. However, there are no scientific proofs or studies that have linked eco-friendly fabrics to good health. The health benefits of organic clothing are more indirect. Organic production methods result in fewer toxic emissions into the air, water and soil. Organic fibre accounts for eco-friendly procedure that does not compromise workers' health and helps reduce water and electric use and toxic chemicals.
In addition to these, there are many people who are allergic to chemicals and for them organic clothing is a better and healthier option. Even the farmers who use fertilizers are exposed to several health problems, since they have to increase the quantity of the chemicals, as the insects and pests get immune to certain chemicals with time.
Use of pesticide is very common, as far as, crops like cotton are considered. Many of the crops that produce the fibres used to make clothes account for some of the highest pesticide usage. Furthermore, it takes roughly one-third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to grow enough cotton for a t-shirt. The carbon footprint of apparel made from organic cotton is 16% lower than that of apparel made from conventional cotton. When the demand of organic fibre increases, the farmers are encouraged to discontinue use of expensive fertilizers and follow nature's way of growing healthy crops.
Though, the cost of organic products is on higher side, the advantages of the organic clothing outshine the price factor. In fact, the organic clothes are highly priced because organic farming is more expensive than the conventional farming and organic fabrics are also more expensive to manufacture. Organic retailers find it more expensive to advertise and market, which also adds to the cost of final product. Nevertheless, that said, organic fabrics are not only safer, but they are also easy on environment.
As the market trends are suggesting, the organic clothing will gain more popularity in future. People like to feel good about what they buy and use. The surge in use of organic products in textile industry is an indicator that the market out there for organic and eco-friendly fabrics is positive. There are so many organic fibres to pick from and this surely is enough to tempt customers to buy some products that have been made with organic fibres. This will be great for environment, nature and health of people in general.
However, the challenges that the organic clothing manufacturers and retailers are facing are different, as with the ever-growing demand, they have to match up with the supply. The supply of organic fibre is still limited, which is hindering manufacturers from producing 100 percent organic clothes.