Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Getting Serious About Organic Cotton

As many of you know I'm very keen to use organic cotton whenever possible. Back in October last year I posted about the benefits of using organic cotton and the effects that the toxic chemicals used in the production of standard cotton have on our own health, the health of the people involved in the growing of the cotton and the environment in general.
I'm a firm believer in the saying "Every little helps" and for a long time I was happy that my "little" use of organic cotton was helping, just as my efforts to eat organic, or even better still, homegrown, help in some small way to keep me and my family healthy.
Each and every choice we make as purchasers goes as long way to stimulate the amount of organic food and clothing that suppliers make available to us. Most people counter argue that organic is always more expensive. But this is not always the case. Organic fruit and veg are often as cheap as the regular stuff when they are in season. In this fast moving, technological age we have forgotten about buying seasonal produce.
With fabrics it is more a case that organic cotton is comparable in price with the regular designer cottons, but there are no "budget" ranges to choose from. There is no way you can buy organic cotton fabric or yarns as cheaply as you can poly cotton fabric or acrylic yarn.
The same is true of the organic clothing that is available in stores. It might compete with designer ranges on price, but not yet with everyday items.... but, I believe this is gradually changing. 
H&M have a sustainability policy in which they aim for all their cotton to come from more sustainable sources by 2020 and are currently the biggest user of organic cotton in the world. The price of their Conscious Clothing range is comparable to all the other ranges. Hopefully other clothing manufacturers will follow suit.
More and more companies are producing clothing and bedding for babies and children are using organic cotton.

A baby quilt I made last year using organic cotton

So why do I feel the need to write this post?
Because I feel it's time to step up, to do more than be just a casual user of organic fibres. There is so much more organic cotton available to the home sewer or quilter now than there was even 6 months ago and I no longer have the excuse that the design "wasn't quite what I was looking for" or "It's too hard to find". 
Organic cotton nursery fabric

I may not have my perfect choice, and I may not be able to make all the clothing I want from organic fabric, but I am going to try to only buy organic for quilting and baby projects and to only buy standard fabrics for my own clothing when I absolutely have no choice.

This decision is huge.... yes, HUGE!
I have been dithering for quite a while. Won't I want to buy those lovely new designs that fellow bloggers showcase? .......Of course I will! but I have to try and manage without.
What shall I do about my charity knitting? I can't have one rule for myself and my family, but another for babies in Africa or street children in London. ..... This is a really difficult one - I shall try to use the oddments for charity knitting and I don't think this problem will arise for a while as I have quite a large stash of standard yarns to use up first.
I made this charity knit using organic cotton oddments
You will still see posts of things I have made using regular cotton for a long time to come, because I have a lot of it already tucked away!! I'm just not going to buy any more if I can possible help it. I will probably have to buy some more Liberty prints to complete my Farmers Wife quilt, but the solids in it can be organic.
The knitting will be a lot harder to achieve than the sewing and quilting because there seems to be less organic yarn available than there was a year ago, not more! Why this is I just don't know. Maybe there just wasn't the demand for it? I just have to hope this trend is reversed as soon as possible.

I have updated the post I wrote in October about the toxins in standard cotton and have saved it as a downloadable PDF here. It is also permanently available on my sidebar. Please take the time to read it if you are at all interested in this subject.

Organic cotton is beautifully soft, and gets softer with every wash and it's stronger and more hard wearing than standard cotton. I'm sure if more people realised just how many toxins were in standard cotton I could convert them in instant.

So will my blog change in any way?
No, not really. I shall still post about the things I'm making, and as I have a lot of standard cotton to use up, I'll still be showing you it for a long time to come, but I'll certainly blog about the new fabrics, and hopefully yarns, that I'm buying, and show you what I've made with them. And maybe, little by little, sewers and quilters will see that organic isn't just for the "eco warriors" (Is that what I am?!) but that everyone can embrace organic and still make beautiful things for home and family.

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5 comments:

  1. Well I think that baby quilt is absolutely beautiful and lucky the baby tucked up under its natural loveliness.
    Good luck with your endeavours

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  2. You could always hit up freecycle for yarn for your charity knitting. It may not be organic but is using yarn that's already made and may well end up in landfill.

    Sarabeth
    Life of an Agnostic Sunday School Teacher

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  3. Great post! Looking forward to hearing about your new projects (and to get some tips on where you buy your supplies! Especially online as it would be a bit difficult to come over and get them myself...) Keep up the good work!

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  4. Would love to know where to buy the organic woodland fabric - perfect for the nursery I need to create before November!

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