Some of the environmental impacts of clothes production include:
Ideally, any “eco-friendly” clothing would have low scores on all these environmental impacts and consumers would have easy choices. But the reality is not so simple.
Take cotton as an example. Although cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop in the world, even switching to organic isn’t a “slam dunk.” While organic cotton does mean less use of toxic pesticides, it can also sometimes result in more water usage, generally has to be shipped farther (since most organic cotton is grown overseas), and may require more land. To complicate things further, the word organic means different things on different labels, and organic cotton may still be dyed with toxic heavy metals (as many other fabrics are).
The trick is that sometimes organic cotton is great—for instance, if it is rain-fed, locally sourced and processed. But sometimes it has a bigger impact than conventional cotton. By the same token, many emerging “green fibers” have a catch of some kind: bamboo is fast growing and needs relatively little pesticide or fertilizer, but on the other hand bamboo clothing is just a kind of rayon and the production process involves toxic chemicals.
Read more: Beauty, Eco-friendly tips, Fashion, Green, bamboo, clothesline, cotton, eco-friendly clothing, front-loading washer, Gaiam, Global Organic Textile Standards, green clothes, green wardrobe, hemp, Jon Fisher, organic cotton, phosphate-free detergent, rayon, The Nature Conservancy, toxic chemicals, used clothing, ventless dryer
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