Organic Fabrics, What They Are and Why Choose Them

Balls of cotton

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What are biological tissues?

We can define a biological tissue (or rather a biological fiber) when this comes from a cultivation that has observed the standards imposed by organic farming, the same applied in the food sector.

Organic farming imposes strict rules to protect human health and the environment in general. Do you think it is considered as one of the solutions to combat climate change.

It is known that organic farming corresponds to cultivating and raising plants in a natural way, without the aid of chemicals that are dangerous for our health or polluting the environment. We therefore exclude pesticides, fertilizers and synthetic herbicides, relying on natural substances, mixtures created in any case by man but with the aim of creating a positive impact on the environment (or at least not destroying it).

To define the biological fabrics a certification is required that certifies its origin from organic farming.

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When is a fabric organic?

A fabric is organic when it has a certification of biological origin that can guarantee the origin of the fiber used to make the same fabric. The textile certifications There are two most widespread internationally:

  • Organic Content Standard (SCO) which is available in two versions: Content 100 when the fiber is 100% of biological origin. Content Blended when the fiber contains at least 5% of biological fiber. Learn more about OCS
  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which is applicable when the fiber is composed of at least 95% organic fibers. It is possible to obtain this certification even when it contains at least 70% of organic fibers, by applying the wording on the label "Made with 70% organic fibers". Find out more about GOTS

One thing to watch out for is the blending of the fabric, we have in fact talked about "Fibers composed of at least ... biological fiber". The fiber is transformed into yarn, and subsequently into fabric. During weaving it is possible that the certified cotton fiber cotton is mixed with another NON-organic cotton fiber, or perhaps with synthetic materials.

In case you want buy an organic tissue it is therefore necessary to pay attention to its mixing, while in case you want to buy organic clothing it is essential to read the label of the garment which shows the exact composition of the product.

What are biological tissues?

Although cotton and wool are the most common in the fashion trade, they can all be certified as organic natural fabrics:

  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Ramia
  • Jute

Why choose organic fabrics?

Preserving the environment, human health, and the social aspect of textile production are 3 incentives that should push any person to purchase biological fabrics. Artisans and fashion brands should in fact carefully evaluate these aspects in the design phase of their products.

Despite having a slightly higher cost than traditional fabrics, the advantages offered by biological fabrics justify the slight price difference:

  • Environment: excluding all those toxic substances commonly used in the textile sector, the land will benefit. The greenhouse gases emitted will be of lesser importance. The aquifers will remain clean and safe for local citizens.
  • Human health: in addition to environmental pollution that negatively affects our health, we must point out that these substances persist in the fabric and are assimilated by our body when we wear a garment.
  • Social aspect: organic farming provides minimum standards corresponding to those defined by the UN. This means that farmers, like factory employees, enjoy fair and non-discriminatory treatment.

Environmental impact of biological tissues

The environmental impact of biological fabrics it is decidedly inferior when compared with traditional natural fabrics. At present, since there are no scientific studies of comparison between artificial materials of the latest generation (defined as ecological since they are derived from plant resources) and biological fabrics, we can define the latter as the most ecological on the market.

We like to think that organic can spread rapidly one day. In 2018, a sector study stated that in Italy 15,4% of cultivated land was dedicated to organic farming.

Organic vs traditional fabrics

CO2 emissions, comparison between tissues
The graph shows the emissions CO2 during cultivation (purple color) and fabric production (pink color). It can be seen how traditional cotton (Cotton - USA) reaches almost 6 KG of CO2 emissions to cultivate and subsequently produce 1 ton of textile fiber, while organic cotton (also in the USA) slightly exceeds 2 KG of emissions.

Some might think that 6 KG of CO2 are few, but keep in mind that it is a GAS and that in the United States alone about 5 thousand million tons of cotton fiber were produced in just 1 year (2018).

Energy consumption, tissue comparison
This graph instead shows the energy consumption in the cultivation and production of textile fibers. As you can see, polyester is still the worst among those listed, and it is disturbing to think that acrylic and nylon have an impact on the environment far superior to polyester.

As you see the differences between organic cotton and traditional cotton are not as prominent as in CO2 emissions, but they still lean in favor of organic fabric.

In conclusion, we believe that you choose biological fabrics is a contribution to the fight against climate change.

Source of statistics in PDF format (English).

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We are a non-profit association engaged since 2016 in the promoting a more ethical and sustainable fashion.

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