Six important stages of clothing production - number six is you!

Mar 28, 2015
At Enkel Basics, when we think about the production of organic cotton and our products, we consider six stages:
  • Cotton harvesting
  • Cleaning and spinning the cotton to make fabrics
  • Fabric dying
  • Designing with a sustainable purpose
  • Making the garment
  • You wearing it
When we consider buying organic versus non-organic clothing, understanding the differences between the two approaches at each stage helps us to understand the importance of choosing organically produced clothing.

Cotton Harvesting

Conventional cotton is grown using more insecticides than any other crop.
Here are some numbers on cotton farming:
  • 10% of the total worldwide output of pesticides is used in cotton fields.
  • Cotton is grown on 2.4% of the world’s arable land but accounts for 24% of insecticides used worldwide. Some of the most hazardous pesticides used on cotton fields include esters of phosphoric acid and a derivative of carbamic acid, for example. Both chemicals can affect the nervous system of workers worker in the cotton fields.
  • 80 grams of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used for every kilo of cotton that is harvested. To get a sense of this amount, 80 grams is equivalent to the weight of a small apple.

Organic cotton is grown using the principles of organic farming. Organic cotton farmers focus on preventing problems such as managing weeds and insects rather than worrying about eliminating them. This avoids the situation created by the use of pesticides that kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps. As insects become more chemical resistant, these farmers have to resort to using more and stronger chemicals, which in turn affects the ecological balance of the natural environment on the farms and in the surrounding areas.
Hand picking of organic cotton leads to less waste and doesn’t require the use of herbicides to help make picking cotton easier. When these chemicals are not used, the production of cotton is a safer process for workers. This also means that no herbicides are introduced into the surrounding area as, creating a healthy environment for wildlife, and safe and clean waterways for everyone.

Cleaning the cotton and making it into fabrics

The cotton spinning process changes cotton fibres into yarn as the fibres are cleaned, blended, twisted and coiled. Cotton is spun into thread and fabric from raw material using knitting and spinning machines. 
In the cleaning process, cottonseed is separated from the fibres and is used to make animal and dairy products.
Workers are exposed to dust from the cotton that can have chemicals and also to the chemicals in the raw fibres and on the newly woven fabric. 
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification means that hazardous chemicals are not used in the manufacturing process and waste water is treated. GOTS sets rules about chemicals and biodegradability of what is used in the manufacturing process.

Fabric Dying

In the dying process used for conventional cotton, compounds of iron, tin, potassium and solvent-based inks containing heavy metals are used. Large amounts of water are also used in this process. The finishing process also involves the use of chemicals such as chlorine.
When organic cotton is manufactured, natural spinning oils, potato starch, hydrogen peroxide, organic color grown cotton, low-impact dyes, earth clays, natural vegetable and mineral inks and binders are used instead of the more commonly used toxic chemicals.
We comply to a CSR standard where we treat the waste water from the dyeing plant. Unfortunately this is not standard practise in fast fashion production. 

Clothing Production

GOTS certification of a product made with organic cotton provides assurance that that product wasn't created using child labour. Fair trade practice supports fair wages for workers and appropriate working hours per day. 
The factory who make our tees even have programs in place that promote women in the workplace and offer 4 months maternity leave and leadership training. We love that!


At Enkel Basics we are using shipping packaging that is free of PVCs and is made from eco-friendly recycled plastics.

Designing for sustainability

Enkel Basic clothing is designed to be timeless, durable and suitable for all seasons. This means that you won’t be throwing the clothing out prematurely or needing to update your closet because our t-shirt styles have gone out of fashion.

Each item comes with a two year guarantee so you know your clothing will last.
To make our carbon footprint smaller we arrange to have our clothing made close to the location where the fabric is produced and the cotton is grown. This minimizes the need for transportation.

It starts with you 

Did you know that 50% of the carbon footprint of a garment is in the hands of the wearer? 
In Northern Europe we only wear our clothes 6 times on average before we throw them away or recycle them. By prolonging that lifespan by a third we can shave 9% off our carbon footprint. That's why we make our products to last.

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Our Enkel blog is your source to get to know the world of sustainability, the industry, the life cycle of our products and in general give you a simple overview and transparent look into how your products are produced.