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Organic Fabrics

by Edwina Huang on December 14, 2016

What is Organic fabric?

Organic farming is the greenest approach to produce high quality organic fibre which is then converted into fabric. Natural fabrics when manufactured using organic production systems right from fibre to fabric stage is called organic fabric. In organic farming method, fibres are grown in controlled settings with no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or toxic chemicals. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming.

Organic cotton is well known organic fabric widely available and used to make organic clothing. 100% certified organic cotton fabric is most eco-friendly in comparison to conventional cotton as it causes very low or no impact on the environment. Organic yarn spinners have isolated processing areas in order to segregate the organic cotton from conventional cotton. Conventional cotton production has various social and economic risks, especially for farmers in developing countries.

Cotton is a very pesticide intensive crop and is one the most widely grown crops in the world. Pesticides used during cotton farming are very harmful and have tremendous impact on the earth’s air, water, soil, and the health of people in cotton farm areas. To maintain the quality, many organic trade associations monitor the organic farms where the organic fibres are grown.  The top five countries—India, China, Turkey, Tanzania, and the United States—produce nearly 97% of total global organic cotton fiber. According to the 2014 Organic Market Report from Textile Exchange, global sales of organic cotton products reached an estimated $15.7 billion in 2014, up 10 percent from 2013. 


What are they made from? And what variation do Organic fabrics comes?

Organic cotton fabric is made from organically grown cotton fibre. In addition to organic cotton there is also organic silk and organic wool available in market.

For a fibre to be certified as organic, the origin and the process of manufacturing should be organic. In simple terms, the operations must be managed in accordance with organic standards i.e .no prohibited chemicals should be used for more than 3 years.  In case of organic wool fabric, the wool must come from certified organic sheep (i.e. no prohibited chemicals used on the land for than 3 years) and animal is raised in accordance with organic standards. Organic silk is manufactured in such a manner that there is no destruction of silk worms to harvest the silk cocoons.

Spinning, dyeing and garmenting are also required to be certified organic if the final product (e.g. t-shirt, socks etc) is to wear a “certified organic” label.


What’s the production process?

Here we discuss the production process of Organic Cotton.

After organic cotton fibre being handpicked in the farms further process is as below,

  1. Storage and pre-cleaning of the organic fibres in a segregated section.

  2. Organic fibre processing steps, such as opening, cleaning, drawing, etc., are done in batch mode with thorough pre-cleaning of all processing equipment involved.

  3. Carding and combing are carried out in dedicated machinery.

  4. Organic yarns are produced in an isolated ring spinning section, with a physical barrier to prevent cross contamination by other fibres.

  5. Dedicated looms and knitters are assigned for 100% organic fabric production.

  6. All organic fibre & yarn handling and transportation equipment is segregated by colour-coding.

  7. Cream fabric doffed from the loom or knitter is marked for the date of production, machine number, piece length, yarn batch and other relevant technical data which allows complete tracking.

  8. Cornstarch is used for sizing.

  9. Hydrogen Peroxide is used in the bleaching process instead of chlorine compounds.

  10. Low Impact reactive and vat dyes used meet ETAD and Oeko-Tex 100 Standards for toxicity. ETAD stands for The Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers.

Basically at each manufacturing stage, organic clothing manufacturers do not add any harmful chemicals or inauthentic materials. Natural alternatives are used in every process from pretreatment to making of finished fabric thus reduce and eliminate the toxic consequences found in conventional cotton.


What are the environmental benefits for Organic fabrics?

1. No chemical pesticides, herbicides and chemicals are used when growing organic cotton in farms.

2. Replenishes and maintain soil fertility.

3. Organically grown cotton can be used to produce organic food products for people and animals. Thus organic cotton is important not just in clothing chain but also in the food chain.

4. Organic cotton farming produces far less CO2 emissions.  Organic farming takes 1.5 tonnes, of CO2 per acre per year are taken out of the atmosphere.

5. Organic cotton farming uses up to 60% less water than conventional farming methods.

6. Pesticide or herbicide residues are not entered accidentally into the environment

7. Builds biologically diverse agriculture environment.

8. Humans and animals are not exposed to chemical pesticides or herbicides

9. When the fabric is discarded, pesticides and herbicides are not returned to the earth in landfill, or enter into recycling process.

10.  Builds more Jobs and income for local farmers.


Where can we find them?

Egypt started the first organic cotton project in 1990. Now the industry has grown to over 22 countries. The largest producers of organic cotton is India, then following countries are Turkey, Syria, China, United States, Tanzania, Egypt, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Pakistan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Paraguay, Israel, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Senegal.  There are approximately 219,000 organic cotton farmers. 

Manufacturers of organic fabric must meet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certification which ensures fibre production, processing, dyeing and non-toxic handling throughout supply chain and also includes strong labor provisions. It is important to check the certified label to ensure product is really organic.

In the market today, Vivify textiles supplies the best organic fabrics, from numerous styles and variations, Vivify textiles has been one of the most credible go to for purchasing organic fabrics.

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