Organic clothing- lets make it happen

Since the beginning of the year Lava Ink has been on a mission to create a reliable supply chain for locally produced organic products and fabrics. The result……. mens and ladies fitted t shirts in a natural colour only, which I personally think is pathetic.

This is an indication of the mode and of thinking that the South African Clothing Industry and its consumers are in. Here is a real opportunity for us to compete against imports by offering ethical clothing as apposed to cheaper, environmentally damaging clothing. We need to create a substantial demand for ethical clothing and production processes because at the moment the task to supply organic, requires the manufacturer to be involved in primary manufacturing stages such as dying. This is because the demand for organic fabrics is not enough to motivate stock production in various colours and types of fabrics.

How does clothing production influence our envrironment?

The following was taken from EcoSpace and highlights the effects clothing and fabric production have on the environment.

When was the last time you checked the tag of your t-shirt to look for more than just a size or price? Do you know what your clothes are made of or who made them? The answers to these questions may surprise you, as inputs of clothing production have significant effects on the physical and social environment.

Take a look at the cotton industry. Insecticides used in conventional cotton production are the most hazardous pesticide to human health, causing behavioral changes, increased cancer risk, and even death. Cotton’s second best selling insecticide, Aldicarb, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin! Who knew wearing cotton could be so dangerous!

Not only do clothing choices impact human health, but they also affect the environment. Fertilizers used in conventional cotton production harm the environment. Nitrogen synthetic fertilizers cause leaching and runoff and emit gases that contribute 300 times more to global warming than CO2. It takes about 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton, and it takes that pound of cotton to make one t-shirt. That’s a lot of fertilizer, a lot of greenhouse gases, and a major detriment to the environment!

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The SA Blog Award Winners for the best green blog, Urban Sprout, is giving some good advice on how to green our clothing.

I responded by making the comment that large retailers should stop treating organic as a marketing strategy  but rather as an environmental and industrial one.  If large retailers start investing in our local Industries for ethical reasons, with the intention of greening their supply chains, real change is possible.

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5 thoughts on “Organic clothing- lets make it happen

  1. hear hear. I have been on the web for days trying to source locally produced 100% organic t-shirts. If you are going to put an eco statement on an organic t-shirt – to put it on a t-shirt that has been imported defeats the whole object. Buy and support local, Reduce our carbon emissions, help save the environment. All I have managed to find is the t-shirts that are manuifactrued and supplied to Woolies from the Eastern Cape organic cotton farmers. This is great but it is not enough….and they do not seem to be available to anyone else. I NEED ORGANIC T-SHIRTS PRODUCED IN OUR OWN COUNTRY. HELP

  2. Hi Carla, many thanks for your comment. I agree that everything should start right here because our actions affect our environment. Its not beneficial to us if these garments or any of its components (ie. production input or materials) are imported.

    When it comes to large retailers, Woolies will be on the forefront of market entry because they are already strongly leaning towards Eco- friendly (EF) living. They also have the financial strength to motivate a local production of organic fabrics. For smaller businesses to invest in a trend that hasn’t reached a peak yet, is a risky strategy because the suppliers of the components such as the fabric are not keeping stock on the shelves. This means that as a smaller business, you would have to start at the beginning with fabric manufacturing and dyeing. These processes require minimum quanities which is about 500 metres of fabric @ R26/m. This is only to get the fabric made without any further processing like the actual manufacturing of the garment. This 500 meters is for 1 colour dye only. Imagine you want to sell a variety of 10 colours? So it is a big investment into a garment that isn’t in a high enough demand yet.

    I personally feel that the survival of our planet is being treated like a niche market and not as a necessity. Marketing departments are driving EF instead of government and law (in SA that is). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPINION. I’m not saying that tomorrow all stores must have 100% EF products on their shelves- I’m saying that all businesses should have a plan in place to reduce their impact on the environment. I ALSO FEEL that currently “Eco- friendly” is a term used to stay ahead of the competition, as it is just another sales pitch and the selling of an image to those who are able to spend the few Rands extra, to feel good. Let’s hope that this changes and that organic products can saturate the market, making it the only option and less costly.

    Lets compete to save the world!

    Partially good news – we can get locally produced fabric that is 100% organic,

  3. Hi Carla, many thanks for your comment. I agree that everything should start right here because our actions affect our environment. Its not beneficial to us if these garments or any of its components (ie. production input or materials) are imported.

    When it comes to large retailers, Woolies will be on the forefront of market entry because they are already strongly leaning towards Eco- friendly (EF) living. They also have the financial strength to motivate a local production of organic fabrics. For smaller businesses to invest in a trend that hasn’t reached a peak yet, is a risky strategy because the suppliers of the components such as the fabric are not keeping stock on the shelves. This means that as a smaller business, you would have to start at the beginning with fabric manufacturing and dyeing. These processes require minimum quanities which is about 500 metres of fabric @ R26/m. This is only to get the fabric made without any further processing like the actual manufacturing of the garment. This 500 meters is for 1 colour dye only. So it is a big investment into a garment that isn’t in a high enough demand yet.

    I personally feel that the survival of our planet is being treated like a niche market and not as a necessity. Marketing departments are driving EF instead of government and law (in SA that is). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPINION. I’m not saying that tomorrow all stores must have 100% EF products on their shelves- I’m saying that all businesses should have a plan in place to reduce their impact on the environment. I ALSO FEEL that currently “Eco- friendly” is a term used to stay ahead of the competition, as it is just another sales pitch and the selling of an image to those who are able to spend the few Rands extra, to feel good. Let’s hope that this changes and that organic products can saturate the market, making it the only option and less costly.

    Lets compete to save the world!

    Partially good news – we can get locally produced fabric that is 100% organic,

  4. Hi Carla, many thanks for your comment. I agree that everything should start right here because our actions affect our environment. Its not beneficial to us if these garments or any of its components (ie. production input or materials) are imported.

    When it comes to large retailers, Woolies will be on the forefront of market entry because they are already strongly leaning towards Eco- friendly (EF) living. They also have the financial strength to motivate a local production of organic fabrics. For smaller businesses to invest in a trend that hasn’t reached a peak yet, is a risky strategy because the suppliers of the components such as the fabric are not keeping stock on the shelves. This means that as a smaller business, you would have to start at the beginning with fabric manufacturing and dyeing. These processes require minimum quanities which is about 500 metres of fabric @ R26/m. This is only to get the fabric made without any further processing like the actual manufacturing of the garment. This 500 meters is for 1 colour dye only. So it is a big investment into a garment that isn’t in a high enough demand yet.

    I personally feel that the survival of our planet is being treated like a niche market and not as a necessity. Marketing departments are driving EF instead of government and law (in SA that is). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPINION. I’m not saying that tomorrow all stores must have 100% EF products on their shelves- I’m saying that all businesses should have a plan in place to reduce their impact on the environment. I ALSO FEEL that currently “Eco- friendly” is a term used to stay ahead of the competition, as it is just another sales pitch and the selling of an image to those who are able to spend the few Rands extra, to feel good. Let’s hope that this changes and that organic products can saturate the market, making it the only option and less costly.

    Lets compete to save the world!

  5. Hi Carla, many thanks for your comment. I agree that everything should start right here because our actions affect our environment. Its not beneficial to us if these garments or any of its components (ie. production input or materials) are imported.

    When it comes to large retailers, Woolies will be on the forefront of market entry because they are already strongly leaning towards Eco- friendly (EF) living. They also have the financial strength to motivate a local production of organic fabrics. For smaller businesses to invest in a trend that hasn’t reached a peak yet, is a risky strategy because the suppliers of the components such as the fabric are not keeping stock on the shelves. This means that as a smaller business, you would have to start at the beginning with fabric manufacturing and dyeing. These processes require minimum quanities which is about 500 metres of fabric @ R26/m. This is only to get the fabric made without any further processing like the actual manufacturing of the garment. This 500 meters is for 1 colour dye only. So it is a big investment into a garment that isn’t in at high enough demand yet.

    I personally feel that the survival of our planet is being treated like a niche market and not as a necessity. Marketing departments are driving EF instead of government and law (in SA that is). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPINION. I’m not saying that tomorrow all stores must have 100% EF products on their shelves- I’m saying that all businesses should have a plan in place to reduce their impact on the environment. I ALSO FEEL that currently “Eco- friendly” is a term used to stay ahead of the competition, as it is just another sales pitch and the selling of an image to those who are able to spend the few Rands extra, to feel good. Let’s hope that this changes and that organic products can saturate the market, making it the only option and less costly.

    Lets compete to save the world!

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