Organic Clothing, Your Baby and You
'Organic' has become the buzzword for modern living. Marketers push a myriad of products labelled 'organic' upon us, from food to furniture to clothing. A desire to help the Earth is commendable, but should be coupled with the appropriate knowledge so we don't end up doing more harm than good.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) which is responsible for 'organic' certification in the U.S. describes organic agriculture as the system of ecological production management which facilitates and promotes biological activity in soil and natural biological cycles to enhance ecological harmony.
Organic clothes, therefore, are clothes made from products grown on farms, and then processed in factories, that are certified organic by the NOSB. Clothes only receive this certification if every step of this production can be shown to be organic according to NOSB's guidelines.
Such clothing is superior to the common cotton clothes in two major ways.
Firstly, the process used to make regular cotton clothes is far more volatile - clothes made in that way are subject to various destructive processes like scouring, bleaching, dying, softening, being sprayed with formaldehyde, flame and soil retardants. This forces the fibers to withstand an immensely larger amount of punishment in the manufacturing process.
The result is a weakened fiber structure that is more prone to wear and tear than are organic clothes even before it is cut into the requisite size and shape. To put this in perspective, ordinary cotton clothes start to show signs of deterioration after about 15 washes, whereas organic clothing only reaches that stage after over 100 washes.
This offsets the generally higher price of organic baby clothes in the long run.
The second feature that serves to explain the high regard in which organic clothes are held is the amount of residual chemicals that are left in non-organic clothing when they finally arrive in stores. From every step of the manufacturing process, all the way from the demonstrably-carcinogenic pesticides used on non-organic cotton to the formidable battery of chemical washes that the raw cotton undergoes before being transformed into clothing, an amount of unhealthy artificial chemicals is introduced into the material. This is the reason we are advised to always wash new clothes before wearing them.
However, despite a wash, those harmful substances do not completely leave the clothes.
Baby skin is far thinner, more porous and sensitive compared to an adult's. Clothing a baby in non-organic clothes results in those harmful chemicals remaining in the material to be absorbed into the baby's skin and introduced into its bloodstream, from where they will be transported to every limb and organ.
It has been reported that millions of kids in the U.S. ingest 35% of their lifetime dose of carcinogenic substances before they are five years old.
Regardless of whether a child is exposed at a young age, we have a responsibility to do whatever is in our power to limit the amount of harmful substances leaching into soil and then the world's water supply. To this end, it will probably be a boost for your conscience to buy organic clothes the next time you are out shopping.