Cool News (BACK
July 3, 2007
By Daniel Vosovic
We’re all dying and we’re bringing the planet with us. Whether
you believe that or not, there’s NO WAY you can argue that half the stuff
we do to the environment [isn't] actually bad for it: carbon dioxide emissions,
overwhelming piles of refuse, and CROCS. Ok, that last one isn’t exactly
bad for the environment, but they are ugly and they hurt my eyes, which is
never good because if I can’t see well and then I can’t recycle.
Everybody knows why organic food is good for you … but organic fashion
is a new concept to most people. The clothes we wear are a direct expression
of our personalities, beliefs and lifestyle. If you eat organic food, there’s
no better way to spread the word than by wearing organic and eco-friendly clothes,
and for those of you who don’t eat organic … well you can still
look good, while doing good. These days, style is as important to environmental
clothing companies as the greenness of their fabrics and, besides, organically
produced fabrics have all the fair trade benefits of organically-produced food.
I hate to admit it -- especially because they have such cute commercials and
are working so hard at revamping their image -- but crisp white cotton, though
thought of as a natural and environmental fabric, is actually more damaging
to the environment than most synthetic textiles! Cotton is one of the most
environmentally damaging crops grown in the world. Since it is not a food crop,
cotton is routinely sprayed with an even heavier cocktail of pesticide poisons
than agricultural food crops. In developing countries, more than 50% of all
pesticides used in agriculture are sprayed onto cotton fields. The result is
wide scale water pollution, chronic illness in farm workers, and devastating
effects on wildlife. In industrial countries like the USA, cancer rates in
cotton producing states are significantly higher than neighboring states. Add
to this the effects of bleaching the final fabric, and possibly spraying it
with a fire-retardant, and your “natural look” garments seem distinctly
Organic cotton is manufactured from organically grown cotton plants. No chemical
pesticides or fertilizers are used to grow it, and the final cloth is unbleached
and dyed with natural plant dyes.
Organic wool is luxuriously warm for cool summer evenings, and looks fantastic
in naturally unbleached shades or dyed with organic plant dyes. Unlike regular
wool, organic wool is free from some particularly nasty irritant chemicals
called organophosphates. Most non-organic sheep are sprayed with carcinogenic
organophosphates, and many scientists and environmentalists link their use
to the rise of BSE.
Hemp is the original eco-fabric. Grown by the early American settlers, hemp
denim is what the first Levi’s jeans were made from. More resilient than
cotton, denim hemp is just as soft and versatile and the hemp plant is one
of the most amazing eco-friendly plants known on the planet. Industrial grade
hemp produces three times more fabric per acre than non-organic cotton, whilst
using no pesticides or herbicides. What’s more, the hemp plant actually
replenishes the soil it is grown in, leaving it richer in essential nutrients
than before it was planted. It also grows extremely fast, so it’s an
excellent crop in terms of productivity for the farmer. Ultimately though it’s
the wear ability and natural style of hemp that makes it an increasingly favored
textile for multinational fashion companies like Giorgio Armani and Adidas.
Synthetic textiles like polyester and nylon are hugely damaging to the environment.
According to Ethical Consumer magazine, over 50% of nitrous oxide emissions
in the UK come from nylon production. However, some synthetic fabrics offer
fantastic eco-benefits, whilst being easy to wash, lightweight and funky. My
favorite synthetic textile is called eco-spun fortrel. It’s a high performance
fully washable fleece made from recycled soda bottles. The basic process takes
plastic pop bottles and chips them to make plastic gravel. This is heated,
melting the plastic. The molten liquid is then spun to produce fine fibers,
which are spun into a cozy and durable fleece fabric. Love it!
Another great synthetic textile is cotton-backed polyurethane. PU looks like
PVC leatherette, but unlike PVC, it’s much kinder to both the environment
and the wearer. PVC has been linked in numerous studies to oestrogen-mimicking
chemicals, and additives in it cause asthma. PVC also contains chlorine, a
toxic chemical which produces dioxin during its manufacture. PU provides all
of the glamour of PVC, without harming our environment to this extent.
Viscose and rayon are made out of cellulose from trees, which at first sight
seem very ecological. However, wood pulp used in the manufacture of viscose
is processed with huge amounts of acid chemicals. Much of the waste from production
is dumped into rivers, raising the pH and severely damaging the entire ecosystem.
Of course, the greenest clothes of all are recycled and vintage clothes, but
you don’t need to run down to your local jumble sale in order to be eco-friendly!
Many top fashion labels are reusing and recycling vintage fabrics this season,
collaging different textile stories into funky and original collections. Lots
of top stylists source clothing and accessories from specialist vintage clothing
stores like Steinberg and Tolkein, the Clothing Exchange and American Classics.
The result is a look that you like without harming the planet; great style
Here are some fantastic eco-fashion companies that will make you look and feel
Hip, luxurious and special eco-fashion worn by Cate Blanchett, Sienna Miller
and Macy Gray.
The UK’s first fashion brand to have their organic cotton clothes
certified by the Soil Association.
Pioneering American outdoor clothing company with strong eco-awareness.
Eco-fashion designed by Ali Hewson and Bono with New York clothing designer
Gaelyn & Cianfarani
Elegant and innovative New York style from recycled materials.
Luxury eco designer with the perfect little black dress.
Under The Canopy
Casual and hip organic clothing.
Glo 4 Life
Urban, funky, design-led eco-tees.
Softest Peruvian organic cotton jeans and baby eco-fashion.
Everyday eco-luxury for all the family.
Cool Green is grateful for the
expressed permission of the author, Daniel Vosovic, to reproduce
this article. www.danielvosovic.net.
This article originally appeared in his BravoTV Project Runway blog
on July 3, 2007 - www.bravotv.com/blog/danielvsblog/2007/07/ecofashion.php?page=1
Designer Daniel Vosovic, www.danielvosovic.net
Cool Green Committee Member
Top 3 winning fashion designer on BravoTV series, Project