You may have noticed we are experimentally bringing in more organic cotton clothing and fabrics because we have had a lot of requests over the years, because we ourselves want to be more environmentally conscientious, and because it is getting more affordable. Here is a web page where we have consolidated all of our organic products to date, and hope to add more.
Along with the new products have come more questions. It used to be simple – we carried one tee shirt (#OCT) and socks. The socks had a bunch of rubber in them and didn’t dye so well. The shirts are very cream colored and somewhat variegated, made in the USA, and have a nice story about this guy named Gary who starts with cotton seed and ends up with a shirt. Unfortunately, tie-dyers in general don’t buy this shirt much because they like a nice white background, even though it sucks up dye like a champ.
Now our vendors are importing a few organic clothing items that are white, dye very nicely to an even shade, and look good tie dyed as well! 2 of our 4 organic fabrics are also white. So folks are asking how they can be reassured that these items are organic? How are they whitened? Why are organics more expensive than regular?
First, “certified organic” fabric like we carry, and our new clothing is made from, has been inspected at the point of origin, as a “raw” fiber, where the cotton was actually grown. It is our understanding from discussions with our vendors that the farmers have to be in compliance with guidelines called G.O.T.S. (Global Organic Textile Standards) that were developed in Europe by reputable certifying companies that apparently got together some years ago and made an official criteria, which includes being grown without the use of conventional toxic synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers (soil must be free of those products for at least 3 years), cannot use sewage sludge or un-aged “raw” manure, cannot use genetically engineered seeds, and must be processed without radiation or additives. They must develop an organic farm management plan, keep detailed records, and be inspected annually by an accredited certification agency.
Second, the certification applies to the fiber only. What the clothing then goes through is not regulated at this time. The thread that organic garments are sewn with does not have to be organic. The mill that weaves the fabric or sews the clothing does not have to be organic. HOWEVER, we are very careful about our vendors. We have been assured by vendors that we trust that they are getting the fabrics and clothing from mills that have been following G.O.T.S. guidelines for years. The white clothing and fabrics have been whitened with Peroxide, not Bleach. Peroxide is currently the only approved method of whitening so far that conforms to G.O.T.S. Standards, so that is all that has been used .
Price, well, it has come down, but you can still usually plan on it being higher than a non-organic twin. When you see what the farmer has to go through extra to pass inspection, it makes sense! It is worth it to know that this is a trend that is catching on in many countries now, and will be so much better for our planet. But the trend won’t be self sustaining and grow unless consumers buy it! Every purchase of an organic item is a message that this is how we want it done, that we want to stop poisoning our planet, our fellow creatures and ourselves. If these items are successful, our vendors will add more, and so can we!
And last, well, we really can't say if it was grown by Hippies or not.