alive logo
foodfamilylifestylebeautysustainabilityhealthimmunity

Clothing That's Good for Us and Good for the Earth

Share

Clothing That's Good for Us and Good for the Earth

Mothproofed, fireproofed, easy-care, and permanent-pressed clothing contain harmful chemicals. Formaldehyde, an ingredient in embalming fluid and a known carcinogen, is found in most of these fabrics. Safe clothing, bedding, and towelling manufactured in an environmentally sustainable way from natural fibres are increasingly available alternatives.

Mothproofed, fireproofed, easy-care, and permanent-pressed clothing contain harmful chemicals. Formaldehyde, an ingredient in embalming fluid and a known carcinogen, is found in most of these fabrics. Safe clothing, bedding, and towelling manufactured in an environmentally sustainable way from natural fibres are increasingly available alternatives.

Clothing made from natural fibres is not necessarily free from harmful chemicals, though. According to the US Organic Consumers Association (organicconsumers.org), conventional cotton crops use more than 25 percent of all the insecticides in the world and 12 percent of all pesticides yet are farmed on only 3 percent of the world’s farmland.

Conventionally reared sheep are no better. They are dipped in highly toxic organophosphate compounds to kill parasites on their skin, and the toxins stay in the wool and end up in our groundwater.

Choose a Wholesome Wardrobe

Seek out clothing manufactured safely from certified organic natural fibres. These include organic cotton, wool, hemp, silk, ramie, linen, and cellulose-based lyocell. All are made from sustainable resources and are safe, non-toxic alternatives to the polyester and acetates or other synthetic fibres manufactured using our limited petroleum resources.

How can we be sure that we are getting wholesome fabrics and a wardrobe about which we can feel good? Deal only with reputable clothing companies whose labels guarantee the fabric content is certified organic and that the manufacturing process, including fabric dying, is done in an ecologically safe manner from renewable, sustainable resources. Find these companies by asking friends, relatives, and the knowledgeable staff at your health food store. The Organic Cotton page on the greenpeople.org website is helpful, as well.

Worry-Free Washday

Washing clothes with laundry soaps, detergents, chlorine bleach, and fabric softeners manufactured with unnecessary additives can also be harmful to our health and to the Earth. Borax and biodegradable laundry soaps that contain no phosphates, chlorine, artificial fragrances, or additives will clean clothes equally well and 1 cup (250 mL) pure white vinegar in the rinse cycle will soften clothing, bedding, and towels.

When the weather is bright and sunny, use an outdoor clothes-drying rack or the old-fashioned clothesline rather than an electric clothes dryer; the sun will do wonders to disinfect and freshen bedding, towels, and especially cotton clothing. A bonus is that they smell wonderful! Rub lemon juice and salt into stains on cotton clothing, expose them to sunlight, and then wash as usual&it’s a much better stain remover than harmful chlorine bleach.

The drycleaning process can leave toxic chemicals in our clothing, including the solvent and probable human carcinogen percholroethylene. An alternative is to sponge and press soiled clothing at home. If you must have an item drycleaned, hang the article in a well-ventilated area for several days to allow the chemicals to dissipate. You can also ask a professional launderer to use a wet-cleaning method, then block and press to retain the shape of an expensive piece of clothing.

Mothballs contain chemicals such as paradichlorobenzene, which is harmful to liver and kidneys. Rather than using mothballs to deter moths, use sachets of cedar chips or place woollens in the freezer for a few days. If the freezer is large enough, woollens could even be stored there during the summer. In effect, we can kill moths and their larvae by freezing rather than poisoning them.

With the increasing popularity of ethical, nontoxic organic farming and animal husbandry, we can expect to find more organic fibres, textiles, and clothing than ever before. Parents can feel better about using cloth diapers made from organic cotton that leave no harmful residue on baby’s skin–or on the planet.

When we choose to buy only organic clothing and launder it in a nontoxic, Earth-friendly manner, we can feel that we wear truly clean clothing next to our skin.

Ad
Advertisement
Advertisement

READ THIS NEXT

10 Top Sources of Vitamin C

10 Top Sources of Vitamin C

A fun and nourishing selection to help keep vitamin C levels up

Laura Newton

Laura Newton

10 Surprising Facts About Calcium and Your Body

10 Surprising Facts About Calcium and Your Body

There’s more to this important nutrient than you may realize

Laura Newton

Laura Newton