What are sustainable and organic baby clothes?
As we have witness the extreme heat waves hitting all part of America (especially in the West Coast causing various forest fires) in the past 2 months and record breaking rainfall leading to floods in Germany, we start to get the message that nature is giving us warnings about protecting the environment. We realize that we need to take actions so that our next generations will have a decent place to live and don’t have to deal with extreme weathers that can potentially threaten their life.
A lot of actions had been taken, we are seeing more renewable energy (solar or wind). EVs (electric cars) are gaining grounds across the world. People are more aware of their carbon footprints. Company like Beyond Meet is seeking alternatives to real meat (food contribute to about 25% of the carbon emission) to satisfy our taste buds. But there’s a little sector where people often overlooked and can easily reach without much effort; that is to buy sustainable clothes. Especially in the past two decades where fast fashion had dominated the world of clothing and people look for bargains and began buying quantity instead of quality (this is a topic that we can dive deeper in another article)
What we want to discuss here is “sustainable clothes” and “organic clothes”. A lot of people get confused between the term “Organic Clothing” and “Sustainable Clothing”. Let’s try to clarify the difference between organic clothing and sustainable clothing while both are attempts to protect our environments, but there is some differences in the two approaches. Organic product means no harmful chemicals in the form of fertilizers or pesticides were used during production. Sustainable product means less resources were used during production (such as hemp which uses 1/20th of water cotton needs, or made from recycled material such as recycle paper or soybean fiber). An example would be cotton that were grown without using chemical pesticides or fertilizer is organic cotton, but it would not be classified as “sustainable” because it requires same amount of water or resources as conventional cotton. Some people may argue that using organic farming method extends the life of fertility of soil/land, so it’s somewhat “sustainable”. I will agree with them on this point, but I would still categorize it under “organic” rather than “sustainable”.
In summary, I would conclude that sustainable clothing would involve any method of conservation of resources to make the clothes and it would include organic clothing as part of it.
Now that we got the basic definition, let’s take a look at some of the fabric options we have on the market. There isn’t exactly one “dream fabric” that will serve all purposes. For example, the most popular “eco fabric” is organic cotton, yet it takes about 5,200 gallons of water to grow 2 pounds of usable cotton which is roughly enough to make one t-shirt. The most optimal choice for you will be the one that will allows you to waste less, purchase fewer, and wear your items for longer. Below are some of the organic and/or sustainable fabrics to help you make informed decision when you make the next purchase for your newborn!
As we have mentioned, organic cotton is produced without using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It can prolong the fertility of the land grown on. This usually implies a sustainably managed fabric production process, though it is not always a given without proper certifications. Look for a GOTS certification when buying 100% organic cotton baby clothes.
Bamboo is a fast-growing, regenerative crop that doesn’t require using chemical fertilizer or pesticides to grow. So it is often considered as an organic and sustainable fabric—though there are concerns about land clearing and harvesting methods as well as the process of turning bamboo into a textile fiber. That said, bamboo is absorbent, comfortable, and moisture-wicking, making it a favorite for sustainable parents.
Hemp has a long history of being used as a fiber. It is a densely growing plant, it literally chokes out any competing plants thus no chemical herbicides are needed. It requires about 50% of water cotton needs. So the low requirement of resources input makes hemp a sustainable fabric. Hemp creates a durable fabric that’s non-irritating for skin and has many uses.
Recycled polyester is PET (the chemical used to create polyester) from plastic water bottles that have been broken down into fibers. The recycled fabric keeps plastic out of landfills and can be recycled again many times over. When a garment can’t be made from 100 percent natural fibers (for example, stretchy garments like yoga pants or leggings), it’s a good idea to look for recycled polyester made products. Some company even started their own recycling program to collect old items from their customers.
Azlon from soy
Commonly refer to as "soybean protein fiber". It is a sustainable fiber extracted from renewable natural resources - the leftover soybean pulp from tofu or soymilk production. Production is a close circuit process which means all the auxiliaries used are recycled. After protein fiber is extracted, the soybean pulp can be used as animal feed stock. The fiber is similar to silk fiber in appearances, with soft and smooth handle. It has a cashmere feel, but smoother. Micro-holes in the cross-section and high amorphous regions of azlon from soy fibers improve the water absorption capacity of fabrics. Higher air permeability leads to an increase in water vapor transfer. Azlon from soy fiber also has warmth retention that’s comparable to wool, making wearer stays warm and dry. Making this fiber ideal for undergarments and baby clothes
It is never too late to start cutting down your carbon footprints or buying quality over quantity, especially when buying for you new bundle of joy. A small effort by one person can lead to great changes in our community!