Not All Natural Fabrics Are Created Or Processed Equally
Debunking Bamboo, Eucalyptus, Linen & Cotton Textiles
As a plant, bamboo is fast growing, improves soil quality, produces more wood per acre than standard trees, stores 4 x times more carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen back into the atmosphere.
As a fabric, bamboo enters dubious green washing territory. The fact is there is still no organic certification for bamboo. Whilst the organic sustainably made fiber does exist which is what brands use as their claim to be organic, when it is actually converted from a strong plant into a fabric, the 'green' labelling of these textiles does not take the processing into account. The most common method to make bamboo into a smooth textile involves harsh chemicals that completely cross the line between synthetic and natural. This method (known as viscose) uses sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide to convert cellulose (the walls of the bamboo plant) into liquid, which is then forced through a chemical bath of sulfuric acid. Dyes containing lead, mercury, heavy metals, mutagenic chemicals and endocrine disruptors are commonly used in the manufacturing process. This entire process causes harm to not only the consumer, but the workers in these factories, the waterways, the land that takes the untreated effluent and the release of toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Eucalyptus trees are incredibly efficient water users, grow in areas of low rainfall and provide beautiful fresh smelling oil, leaves for sun prints and seeds for natural dyes.
Like bamboo, in order to convert the cellulose into a fabric - tencel - eucalyptus must go through the same viscioe process, raising the same concerns as bamboo fabric manufacturing impacting the land, air, waterways, worker and consumer health. Unless the processing is a closed loop system like that of Lenzing, those chemicals are released into the environment as untreated effluent. But even with the closed loop system, harsh chemicals and solvents are still used to breakdown the eucalyptus cellulose into a fabric. Sourcing of eucalyptus wood raises concerns for fractured ecosystems through deforestation contributing further to climate change. It is estimated for tencel viscose production, around 120 million trees are cut down every year many of which come from old growth forests that have a higher carbon store.
Linen is an incredible earth friendly plant that is pest resistant, requires less water for irrigation and needs less fertilisers and chemicals than other conventional non-organic crops.
As Less than 1% of Linen used in the world is actually organic and it is only this 1% of organic linen that uses no pesticides or chemicals. Most of the linen available on the market use 'less' pesticides, chemicals and fertilisers. Many people think that linen is automatically eco friendly which is far from the truth. Most of the worlds linen is grown using nitrates and during processing requires heavy bleaching and chemical softeners. At Bhumi we don't want to use 'fewer' toxic chemicals, what impact is that having on the environment? The workers? The land? The waterways? The air? Consumers? Fewer toxic chemicals and pesticides is not good enough. We want to use NONE.
Our 100% organic cotton is certified organic to the GOTS standard - the leading gold standard for organic certification for textiles. Our products from seed to shelf are not made with Gentically Modified seeds and are never exposed to an extensive list of harmful dyes, pesticides and other toxic processing components otherwise found in mainstream cotton, linen, bamboo and eucalyptus. This is perfect for people with sensitive skin and people with allergies. The entire seed to shelf journey and organic farming practices have a positive impact as less water is required, the soils are healthier, the waterways cleaner making it safer for the earth, workers and consumers.
95% of the world's cotton is not organic and is grown with gentically modified seeds, an intense amount of water, hazardous synthetic pesticicdes and made with toxic dyes in unfair and unhealthy working conditions. It is an unregualted industry that is rife with child labour and disastrous health consequences from grower through to consumer. The alternative is certified organic cotton. Organic cotton carries a higher price tag - but it has less of a cost on the Earth and is designed and made to last making it an investent for the long term.
Bhumi's Commitment to Organic Cotton and Organic Linen
Our commitment to working with only Certified Organic Cotton and Organic Linen is a gentle but powerful journey - gentle on the Earth with a firm stance against any toxic chemicals from seed to shelf with no harm to any animals, and gentle on humanity for our community of farmers, workers and cnsumers. It is powerful as we know through the years of research and investigation, certified organic cotton and organic linen really can change the textile industry for the better. We are witnessing and experiencing firsthand the effects of climate change and the textile industry is one of the world's biggest polluting industries, and sadly one of the 3 largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions with 1.2 billion tons of emissions produced every year accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions. From textile creation, production, intense chemical processing, manufacturing, and transportation of textiles purchased each year the impact on the planet and humans is devastating.
As responsible citizens of the earth, it is our responsibility to make conscious informed decisions about what we choose to support. Okay is not good enough anymore. We can do so much better collectively. We strongly believe for there to be positive change in the world, there needs to be strict action and accountability for both people and the planet to ensure there are no loopholes or ways for any practices that are harmful to take place. Without both of these practices for people and the planet, no real change or shifts towards a sustainable positive future will ever really take place and the cylces of exploitation and environmental degradation will only continue. We are dedicated to changing the game, redefining luxury and reshaping conventional textile practices to provide certified organic, pure, luxuriosuly soft and chemical free organic cotton and organic linen that complement your homes.
About the Author: Vinita is the Founder of Bhumi Organic Cotton and passionate about an Earth Life Balance