Are you looking for sustainable and safe textile options for your baby can be an overwhelming task. As many brands attempt to shift to being more sustainable, green-washing is becoming more prevalent. Is bamboo a safe and sustainable fabric? What is the difference between non-organic and organic cotton? We help answer these questions and breakdown the manufacturing process of bamboo, non-organic cotton, and organic cotton to help you choose the best option for your little one.
Although bamboo is more sustainable than synthetic fabrics like polyester, bamboo often requires large amounts of additives like acid and toxic chemicals in the processing stage. At first glance it appears that bamboo is a great option if you are looking for a fabric that is safe and environmentally friendly. Bamboo is a grass that grows quickly, it requires little water, and it improves soil quality. The positive qualities of bamboo have allowed the plant to become a culprit of greenwashing by many companies over the last few years.
The issue with bamboo lies in how it is processed from a plant into a textile. There are two ways to process bamboo: by a mechanical process or by a chemical process. To produce a textile mechanically, the bamboo plant is crushed and it can be combed out and spun, similar to the production of hemp or linen. Unfortunately, the mechanical process is not common because it is labor intensive, a long process, and is more expensive than chemically processing bamboo.
- the chemical process of bamboo usually involves a plethora of additives like carbon disulfide and bleach. In this process, the bamboo is “cooked” with lye and then treated with sodium hydroxide.
- Chronic exposure to these chemicals can even cause nervous system damage.
- The textile is soaked in sulfuric acid and washed with bleach.
- the chemical processing can have negative effects on workers’ health and can also have major environmental impacts.
The chemical processing that the majority of bamboo textile goes through can have negative effects on workers’ health and can also have major environmental impacts. It also might not be the best option for your skin or your baby’s skin if you are looking for something as natural as possible.
Cotton is the second most common textile used in the fashion industry today behind polyester. Cotton is derived from the cotton plant and is a natural and renewable resource. However, conventional, non-organic cotton has many negative health environmental impacts. Pesticides, insecticides, and chemical run-off are often a result from conventional cotton production.
In the farming of conventional cotton, the entire process can be impacted by the use of chemicals. Cotton seeds can be treated with fungicides and insecticides, synthetic fertilizers can be used in the soil causing environmental damage, and the plants can be sprayed with pesticides in the growing stage. Chlorine bleaching is often used to whiten the fabric, synthetic surfactants are used in the finishing stages, and heavy metals and sulfur are often results of dyeing and printing the fabric. These chemicals can cause allergies, rashes, and respiratory issues and can also be absorbed through the skin.
With conventional cotton production, there is often very little screening of the condition of factories and accountability held. Child labor may be present, workers may not earn a liveable wage, and the conventional cotton production process can have adverse reactions on the health of workers. When it comes to the fashion industry, the goal for most brands is to create clothing as quickly as possible for as cheap as possible which results in exploitation of workers and has extremely negative consequences for our environment.
GOTS is the worldwide leader for textile standards of organic fibers. Through its strict regulations throughout the supply chain, GOTS ensures each certified product is manufactured socially and environmentally responsible. The entire production process is audited meaning from seed to garment is transparent.
With organic cotton, seeds are natural and free from GMOs, the soil is healthy, and natural defoliation is used in the harvesting stage. Low impact dyes are used that do not contain heavy metals or sulfur like many conventional organic products do. Organic cotton can give you peace of mind knowing that the fabric you are wearing or putting on your child to wear is free from harmful chemicals and hormone disruptors.
In the beginning stages of life, a baby’s skin is extremely sensitive and more porous than an adult’s skin. It’s best to choose fabrics that will mimic the skin. Opting for fabrics that are chemical free and as natural as possible will most likely be a priority for health-conscious parents.
GOTS certified organic textiles will give you relief knowing that the production of the garment was investigated from the beginning to end. When shopping for organic cotton products, it is important to look for the GOTS logo and license number. Although some brands may say they use GOTS certified fabric if the products don't have the logo and license number is means that they did not follow all processes mandated to ensure GOTS standards were met and the brands are not permitted to use the logo. Having the GOTS logo and license number ensures that the product is certified organic.
For a natural and safe option for your baby or if you're looking for an organic baby gift, we suggest our Nature's Hug collection because it is made from GOTS certified organic unbleached and undyed cotton. You can shop the collection here.