Getting to know your textiles is a huge part of learning how to shop sustainably and ethically. If you’re hopping on the bandwagon and seeking out a little ethical education, then well done you! Change really does start with shifting small habits, and given the fact that fashion is the number two contributor to global warming, it’s an awfully good place to start. When you’re starting to shop more sustainably and responsibly, you’ll notice that some brands will put up a big front claiming to be ethical and yet still use unsustainable materials and practices. A key fabric used in the world of fashion is cotton, in fact, it’s one of the most popularised, varied and widely used textiles out there. You might read cotton on a label and breath a sigh of relief, it is all natural and recyclable after all, right? The truth is not so simple. Here are the differences between run of the mill cotton and eco-friendly organic cotton, as well as a full run down on the benefits of going organic…
The Harvesting Process
The harvesting process for both organic and inorganic cotton is largely the same, the difference really starts in the kind of crop that’s being used. Organic cotton starts with a larger growing operation, as only the top quality segments of the crop are harvested instead of plucking as much as the plant as possible (as is the case with your regular cotton harvest).
Due to the larger surface area utilised during the growing of organic cotton, the crops are rotated more regularly. This rotation means that nutrients and natural soil properties are nourished instead of depleted. Overall, organic cotton growing uses 71% less water than regular cotton – which is an absolutely massive sum. Water usage restraint and conservation is vital for caring for the planet and treating the earth as kindly as we can.
Weeding and Chemicals
Organic cotton uses a natural weeding technique, meaning it is physically removed either by hand or by a machine. Regular cotton, on the other hand, relied on chemicals known as herbicides to kill weeds. This additional chemical is damaging to the environment and not great for the actual cotton either, the physical removal is far superior both for nature and for our final product. The same goes for insecticides, organic cotton harvesting chooses to use no chemical options whilst cotton uses toxic, chemical packed products to remove pests.
The differences noted throughout this article all contribute to the fact that organic cotton simply uses less energy in the harvesting and treatment process. This is largely due to reduced machinery use and less need for fertiliser or other chemicals. Organic cotton actually eats up a whopping 61% less energy than your generic cotton harvest – which is absolutely staggering when you think about it! This decrease in energy use is far better for the environment and results in a softer, more natural fabric for our clothing.
Your Final Product
Speaking of clothing! Your pieces are going to be far softer, more luxurious feeling and longer lasting – what more could you want out of your basics? Investing in an eco-friendly organic cotton tee shirt will actually save you money in the long run. If you do the maths, replacing a low quality tee shirt that damages the environment every year will cost you more than purchasing one beautifully made, soft piece that lasts you season after season.
Well, if you’re not switching to organic by now then what would it take to convince you? Get shopping for organic cotton clothing to treat the world and your wardrobe.
Wardrobe Basics for Great Style
Great style really evolves from great basics, without the proper building blocks, your outfits aren’t going very far. We all know the frustration that hits when you’re faced with a wardrobe full of clothes, with absolutely nothing to wear. How is it possible? Because you don’t have the right basics to work with! Once you’ve grabbed yourself a few classic pieces, you’ll find that you’re never left with nothing to wear again. What are these elusive, life-saving items, you ask? Read on to find out…
A perfect pair of jeans
Yes, the perfect pair of jeans is tricky to find – but not impossible, promise! The key is to have a direction whilst you’re trying on, that way you’re not going to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice. Try and stick to slightly relaxed fit straight leg cuts that either taper slightly or kick out at the ankle. Next, wash, you’ll want to stick to either a mid-wash or dark-wash for maximum wearability (light wash is a little 2002). Finally, the waist, a mid-rise or high-waist style is usually the most comfortable and flattering. If you’re really having a tough time of it, you can always buy a style that you love and recruit a tailor to make them fit like a glove.
Straight fit, lightweight chinos
These are always going to come in handy, whether you’re heading to the office, on a night out or you’re just doing your chores, a straight fit pair of chinos will be your friend. Stick to a lightweight twill cotton in black to keep your chinos appropriate for every occasion. A mid-rise style that seams just above your ankle will work best.
Crew neck tee-shirts
White, black and grey crew neck tee-shirts can come with you everywhere. Layer under suits, camis and slip dresses or wear alone with jeans, chinos, mini, midi and maxi skirts. Look for high-quality, thick cotton in a slightly oversized style. Wide sleeves will bring a touch of 90s cool to this classic cut.
A block colour turtleneck
A turtleneck is a cold-weather and eveningwear essential. Choose a close-fitting style in cotton (for warmer climates) or cashmere (for colder). The colour is absolutely up to you, black is a classic, but cream, white, grey, pink or yellow are all beautiful options to consider.
A-line leather skirt
No wardrobe is complete without a little leather (or pleather) in there somewhere! A leather skirt is a great addition, it works for office hours, evening wear and weekends. The A-line cut is the most universally flattering, it cinches in your waist and falls in a flattering shape. Whether you’re more of midi or mini kind of dresser is up to you! Wear with tees, button-ups and jumpers, all year round.
We all need a cosy jumper, no matter where you live! Choose a soft cream or camel tone in a relaxed, crew neck fit. This can be paired with skirts, denim, statement pants and layered over your favourite slip dresses.
Everyone should have a loose fit white button-up shirt in their wardrobe. Wear with pants and pencil skirts to the office, skirts for evening out, shorts and denim for the weekend and even open over your swimmers at the beach.
A tailored blazer is that style staple that lots of people are reluctant to invest in at first, but once you grab one you really won’t know how you lived without it. Look for an expertly tailored, wool-blend jacket in a grey herringbone or solid black to complete your closet.