Clothing Travels From The Farm to Our Closet

Mar 24, 2015

If your efforts to buy organic and sustainably produced clothing are hit and miss, you’re not alone.  

As consumers we have made great strides in our ability to purchase organic food products.  The growing demand for these products has encouraged food producers to provide more options.
Meanwhile organic and sustainably produced clothing has a less dominant presence in our everyday conversations. Many of us have purchased organic cotton clothing for a baby or child - but it’s less likely that our own closets are full of organic clothing.

When we shop in a supermarket, it’s easy to identify the difference between organic and non-organic food products. Produce, for example, is labelled as organic and is located in its own section.  Organic food products are often located in their own special section or aisle. 

In comparison, if we want to buy organic and sustainably produced clothing, we more often than not have to visit specialty stores or order clothes online.
While some of us make a special effort to find these clothing options, many others buy clothing without analyzing their purchase in the same way that they would analyze the food that they purchase.

Yet the conventional/non-organic fabrics used for most clothing contain chemicals that we certainly wouldn’t want in our diet.  
Some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing and processing of clothing include heavy metals, synthetic softeners, pesticides, ammonia, chlorine and formaldehyde. Residues can cause skin issues for anyone wearing the garments or working with the fabrics.
Chemicals also shorten the length of the fibers in material such as cotton, leaving the fabric less durable than organically produced cotton.

Why would we want these chemicals going into the air, water and soil in the countries where the clothing is produced?  These chemicals are not only toxic to the environment but they contain carcinogens that are harmful to human beings - most significantly the people who grow and manufacture cotton.

As the conversation continues to develop about what it takes to make cheap and readily available, trend conscious clothing - even available in grocery stores - there is an important conversation we need to have about the farm-to-closet production cycle.

The farm-to-table food movement focuses on the stages of food production that take place as food is grown, handled and sometimes processed -  until it reaches the consumer’s table. This includes the harvesting of the food, storage, processing, packaging, sales and consumption.  
In a similar way we can look at the stages of clothing production including the harvesting of the fibers used to create cotton, linen, hemp soy and silk fabric.

At Enkel Basics we consider the harvesting of the cotton; the fabrication process including how the cotton is spun and made into fabric and the dying of the fabric; the design; and, manufacturing and packaging of the product.  

Here are some of the important considerations that affect the Farm-to-Closet cycle of Enkel Basics clothing:



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