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Organic ain't just for milk!

Well, according to Danny Lourenco, who runs an excellent "ethical chic" boutique on St Denis called Rien a Cacher, organic cotton costs about 50% more per metre. Once you've converted it to clothing, that works out to about a 20 to 25% price hike on the rack.
Of course, we're talking about good quality clothes here-- stuff cut and stitched by local designers in fair trade conditions. Not cheap T-shirts from Walmart. Let's put it this way: if you shop at the Gap or Jacob, prices are actually comparable for organic and fair trade clothing.

But why care about organic in the first place?

Well, organic cotton means that:
* the seeds have not been genetically modified
* No pesticides have been used
* No synthetic chemical fertilizers have been used

So what? Well, here are some more scary stats:
According to Pesticide Action Network, it takes about one-fourth of a pound of chemicals just to make one cotton t-shirt, and two-thirds of a pound to make a pair of jeans. Look in your closet and do the math.
Pesticides like the one Lourenco talks about in my piece are being dumped in the land and are seeping into groundwater, killing wildlife and adversely affecting tens of thousands of cotton workers. Is having a new T-shirt every month worth that?
Watch the video here


BUT, that doesn't mean you can't be hip and stylish.

Nor does it mean that you can never buy another garment again.
It DOES mean that you think before you buy. And use the 3 R's: Reduce (buy only what you really need), Reuse (buy secondhand or organize clothing swaps) and recycle (buy from companies like Preloved that "upcycle" old sweaters to make new ones)
Also, donate all old clothing to charity shops or friends and family. Just because you don't love it doesn't mean someone else won't.

What's this clothing swap?
Okay, this is my favourite part of spring cleaning. Danny Lourenco actually recommends that you organize one at least twice a year and perhaps as often as with the change of every season. It's a great way to get new clothes for free. I'll be posting a how-to guide on how to organize your very own clothing swap tomorrow on this blog. So do check in.

Meanwhile, I have a question for you:
Would you pay more for clothing that's ethically and environmentally conscious? Even if that means buying less?

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Comments (2)

Kathryn Ayres

Montreal

Yes, I'd be willing to buy fewer garments, knowing there was no bad karma or bad health associated with them. I'd even be happy to buy just the fabric, and sew something up myself. One more thing about buying organic fabrics is that, unlike most regular store clothes, they won't be chemically treated (with formaledyde I heard), which is used to make thin cotton seem thicker, and to make rougher cottons seem smoother. That would be much of what is found in the stores now - very cheap, thin cotton getting even thinner once it's washed. Good for the stores, but in the long end, very expensive, misleading and what about the people who sewed the garments?

Posted April 8, 2008 07:57 PM

Geeta Nadkarni

Montreal

Good point, Katherine. Of late I've been getting into fabric and clothing recycling in a big way. I've found it satisfying not just from a fashion perspective, but also as a creativity exercise. There's so much amazing advice out there on the internet (for free)on how to "upcycle" clothing. And despite the fact that I work in TV, I find that I can be quite stylishly dressed for fairly little money (and a similarly low footprint) by buying at friperies.
Take a look at some of these excellent online tutorials:
http://www.woolcrafting.com/recycle-wool-sweaters-into-mittens.html
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/422497/tips_for_recycling_old_shirts_sweaters.html

Oh, and this genius "how to turn a thrift store sweater into a bag" video on Youtube! Hurrah for Youtube!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb3ALtI54k0
Thanks for writing in. And keep up that sewing (my own sewing skills are quite rudimentary--but am going to take some classes this summer!)

Posted April 10, 2008 03:07 PM

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