Image via WikipediaBy Annabelle A Randles
Eco fashion is often believed to be plain, earthy and unattractive. Nothing could be further from the truth as very talented designers are working with innovative materials to create some great and trendy clothes.
What makes eco fashion different from conventional clothes is not their style but the fabrics it uses and the way it is manufactured. In a world of fast, cheap and disposable clothes, eco fashion brings us clothing made from eco textiles under fair trading practices.
Eco fashion uses eco textiles such as organic cotton or bamboo. Those fibres are kinder to the environment as they are grown without pesticides and insecticides.
Often known as the natural fibre, conventional cotton uses around 9% of the world's agrochemical pesticides, about 20% of the world's insecticides and 8% of the world's chemical fertilizers.
This is because cotton flowers are very prone to attacks from insects which has led conventional cotton growers to using those very high levels of chemicals as well as using GM cotton seeds.
A typical conventional cotton t-shirt uses about 150 grams of acutely toxic pesticides and insecticides.
The high levels of chemicals have disastrous effects on farmers health (such as cancer) and pollute the environment while affecting biodiversity. Chemicals can also enter the food chain as cotton bi-products such as cotton seed oil are used in many processed food.
Organic Cotton is grown without the use of pesticides and insecticides that plagued conventional cotton production.
While yields of organic cotton are generally lower than conventional cotton, organic cotton farmers do not have to buy expensive chemicals or GM crops.
Organic farming helps preserve biodiversity while sustaining a healthy environment for humans.
Bamboo fabric has become increasingly popular over the past decade.
Sustainable and versatile, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and requires no pesticides or fertilizers. It requires little water and can grow in many different climates and terrains.
Bamboo fabric is incredibly soft and has a natural breathability keeps you comfortable and dry for longer. It is also highly absorbent (making it the perfect fabric for bath products such as towel and bathmats). Highly breathable with great thermo control properties it is ideal for sportswear.
Eco fashion is a great choice for people with sensitive skins as eco textiles tend to benefit people with sensitive skins such as babies, children, people prone to allergies, eczema and psoriasis.
Eco fashion also uses upcycled materials such as wood, plastics or leftover fabrics to transform waste into clothes. By minimising waste, upycled fabrics have a lesser impact on the environment.
Tencel and Lenpur fabrics are made from wood. The wood pulp is turn into cellulose and then onto a soft and silky fibre. Tencel and Lenpur can be used on their on or blended with other fabrics.
Plastic Bottles can be recycled into fleece material which tends to be soft, lightweight, warm and comfortable.
Fabrics leftovers are also used to create new clothes and minimize waste
But eco fashion does not only benefit the environment and our health. With fair trading practices it enables disadvantaged communities to earn a decent living far away from sweatshops that plagues conventional fashion. Different schemes/certifications exist around the world to ensure a fairer deal and that no child labour is used.
Two-thirds of this cotton is produced in the developing world where it is often subsidised creating unfair trading conditions. World prices on cotton are unstable and falling prices affect poorer farmers who strive to survive.
The Fairtrade Foundation provides a certification for cotton which support the world's poorest cotton farmers ensuring they have been paid a fair price for their crop. It is not the finished fabric or item of clothing but cotton itself which is Fairtrade certified. Others such as Transfair certify both ends of the supply chain: farms and factories.
Eco fashion is fashion with a conscience. So if you care about the environment, fair trade and animal rights, then it is time to become an eco fashion victim.
Annabelle Randles is the founder of By Nature an online retailer based in London, UK specialising in organic and ethical products. http://www.bynature.co.uk
By Nature eco fashion collection can be found at http://www.bynature.co.uk/eco-fashion/
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