Campaign to push organic cotton as sales rise

13 10 2012

Campaign to push organic cotton as sales rise | Environment |

Fashion is going green

25 09 2012

You might have heard about organic cotton and hemp fabrics being used in the fashion industry, but have you heard about fabrics made from PET plastic bottles, or from milk? These are just a few sustainable textiles that are starting to be used in the fashion industry.

The milk fabric is not a new invention. It was created during the Second World War by a German biologist and fashion designer Anke Domaske. To create the fiber, liquid milk is dried and its proteins extracted. The separated proteins are then dissolved in a chemical solution and placed into a machine that essentially whirls the fibers together. The fibers can then be spun into yarn and woven into fabric. The process is quite long, but the milk fabric has some great advantages. It holds dye, is breathable and it captures the moisture to make skin tender and smooth.

Another way to go green in fashion is to use recycled materials. You can find some brands online that produce clothes and accessories using a large range of recycled items, like bags made with old advertising banners, or recycled aluminium can pull-tabs. There is also an American brand called Harvey that uses car seat belts to make their eco-chic bags.

In 2009 the American agency Cone Communications raised some questions regarding how high was consumer interest in environmentally friendly products purchasing despite the bad economy. Here are some interesting results from the Cone Consumer Environmental Survey:

  • 35 percent of Americans have higher interest in the environment today than they did one year ago.
  • 70 percent of Americans indicate that they are paying attention to what companies are doing with regard to the environment today.
Eco-friendly sunglasses

Stella McCartney new eco-friendly collection

Aware of this new consumer behaviour and interest, luxury brands are also going green. Some iconic brands are adopting eco-fashion style in their new creations. In 2012 Stella McCartney launched her brand new eco-friendly collection of sunglasses. She also created an eco-friendly lingerie collection that is made with organic cotton. Check out the green blog from Stella McCartney. Another new player in the eco-friendly scene is Gucci. The luxury brand launched a range of sustainable shoes called “Sustainable Soles” in June 2012.

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But eco-fashion is more than that; in my view eco-fashion is all about creativity. You can transform your old clothes and create something totally new and fashionable.  You can make a funky bag with your old jeans, or a pretty cool bracelet or necklace with some seeds or buttons. It’s up to you to be original, go wild and create your own green style!

Click here to download the survey.

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Sustainable textiles

11 08 2012

The fashion industry is the second largest user of water in the world. Petroleum is one of the toxic materials used to produce synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon. Sheep, alpaca, llamas and other wool-bearing animals contribute to the production of methane gas, a major greenhouse gas.

Over 90 million items of clothing end up in landfill sites all over the world each year.

This is why some textile and fashion industry players are trying to find ways to make their production more sustainable and less harmful to the environment, wildlife and human population.

Some companies have come up with very innovative ideas of producing fibres. Many people have heard about organic cotton and hemp, but there are many of other types of textiles produced with other materials such as PET bottles! 

This year the Earth Summit in Rio had some bad press, but one clever project was agreed between Italy and Brazil. TRACES is an Italian-Brazilian innovative project on carbon footprint survey and social environmental impacts in the fashion industry. The aim of the project is to reduce the social and environmental impacts caused by fibre production for the textile industry.  This collaboration also involves the brand Osklen that is internationally recognized for its design and alternative raw materials.

Together with Instituto-e the project will work on new ways to produce textiles. Instituto-e is a Brazilian organisation that promotes an environmentally friendly economic development in Brazil. The label of e-fabrics® defines the use of the following sustainable materials: organic and natural cotton, recycled cotton and PET, ‘pirarucu leather’ eco-jute, organic silk.

If you are wondering what ‘pirarucu’ is…it is a fish that you can find in Amazonia and it is mostly used as a food. The problem with this fish is that its skin can be harmful for the environment causing biological pollution when disposed of the landfill. Here using the skin as a textile is very beneficial for the environment and the local population creating jobs opportunities.



Plastic bottles represent more than 30% of waste collected in Brazil. Traces project

The project will aim to reuse them producing fibres for the textile industry. If you google ‘PET textile’, you will see that the concept is not totally new.

However in this project it will not only help the environment but also promote ethical work giving women from disadvantaged areas an alternative source of income.

The project has the objective of further the use of sustainable raw materials in order to protect biodiversity and improve social conditions. If this project continues it will be a great step forward for the fashion industry. I really hope that both governments will keep their commitments to this amazing project.

And you know what? I can’t wait to buy my “pirarucu” leather jacket!

Cotton, organic or not?

6 08 2012

Cotton, mature, Cherokee County

Cotton, mature, Cherokee County (Photo credit: Martin LaBar)

A few years ago we started hearing about organic cotton. But what is the difference between conventional cotton and ‘organic’ cotton?

First of all a huge amount of pesticides is used to grow a traditional cotton and most of the farmers currently use many of the most hazardous pesticides available on the market. This practice is not only harmful to the environment and wildlife but it can also harm people. People who work growing the crops without fully effective protection are everyday risking their lives producing cotton to fulfill the high volume required for the textile industry. Not only these pesticides can poison farm workers but can also contaminate the ground, surface water and spread into adjacent communities.

Each year cotton producers around the world use nearly US$2.6 billion worth of pesticides. This is more than 10% of the pesticides and nearly 25% of the insecticides used in the world each year.

Now let’s talk about organic cotton. The methods and materials used to produce organic cotton have a low impact on the environment. Organic cotton producers don’t use toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Instead they use composted manure, beneficial insects and trap-crops to replace synthetic fertilizers. trap crop is a plant that attracts agricultural pests, usually insects, away from nearby crops.

Another difference between organic cotton and traditional cotton fields is irrigation. Cotton field needs a lot of water! Usually organic cotton crops are rain-fed, not irrigated, so less water is used.

In several countries federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic must meet strict regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

The organic cotton market is much smaller than the traditional cotton market and the production in volume is less. Usually organic cotton is a bit more expensive than conventional cotton, for this reason traditional cotton is much more used in the textile industry. But many companies are fighting to make organic cotton much more competitive with traditional cotton.

In my view this is a really good thing. I believe if we make sustainable material more affordable to people they will buy more eco-friendly things. I think that many of the eco-friendly products are often targeted towards wealthier demographic, which will pay more for the ‘eco’ label. If we bring the price down, more people will have access to an eco-friendly fashion lifestyle.

Of course if we really want be eco-friendly, we will always to find creative ways to practice that, but if the textile industry can give us a little helping hand it would make it so much easier to spread the word!


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