Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give the Babies in Your Life a Safe, Healthy Start

Certified Organic Cotton Toys

Great for Holiday Gifts!

Organic Cotton Toy

Soft, Safe and Adorable

100% Certified Organic Cotton stuffing and fabric makes these toys soft and safe for that special little someone. They are dyed with fun, bright colors using only non toxic and eco friendly dyes.

Plush and snuggly, these eco-friendly toys are chemical, toxins and pesticide free for a healthy family and home. Now, when you own these toys, you and someone you care about can enjoy worry-free, safe and fun playtime!


100% Organic Cotton Baby Toys
100% Organic Cotton Stuffed Toy Rattles with Taggies


100% Organic Cotton Baby Rattles

100% Organic Cotton Baby Rattles


100% Organic Cotton Toy, Horse with Taggies
100% Organic Cotton Toy, Pony with Taggies



100% Organic Cotton Baby Blanket with Stuffed Monkey

100% Organic Cotton Stuffed Monkey and Baby Blanket


100% Organic Cotton Baby Toy Frog

100% Organic Cotton Stuffed Baby Toy Frog


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Safe and Healthy Sleep

Certified Organic Merino Wool/Cotton

Comforters and Mattress Pads


For Adult Beds and Baby Cribs



Certified Organic fine merino wool adult comforters, adult mattress pads, baby crib comforters, and baby crib mattress pads gives you peace of mind and comfort when you need it most, bedtime!

Rest comfortably knowing you and your loved ones are wrapped in certified organic, chemical free, Merino wool.

These bedding products are perfectly appropriate year-round comfort, since Organic wool stays cool and breathable in summer, while plush and warm in winter.

Give them as a gift or own them for yourself.

Certified Organic Cotton is used for the outer fabric for noticeably soft and eco-friendly durability.

With so many Organic certifications and quality compliances including Fair Trade, this Organic bedding is inspiring, responsible, and a positive choice for making your home and planet that much more sustainable.


Certified Organic Wool Comforters
Adults and Babies



Certified Organic Wool Mattress Pads
Adults and Babies

Monday, October 26, 2009

ALERT: Your Action is requested to support a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to allow Hemp Farming in the U.S.

Please click on this link to Take action and write to your Representative to support Hemp Farming in the U.S.

Let's be totally clear right up front. Supporting Hemp Farming allows the farming of non-psychoactive hemp that is used for food, seed, and clothing. Hemp is used and sold for all these purposes in the U.S. but the hemp, which is grown in all other industrialized countries, has to be imported because it is illegal, at this time, to grow it in the U.S.

Obviously we support this legislation since we sell hemp clothing in our store that carries the best eco clothing, organic bedding, and bamboo furniture at http:www.YesItsOrganic.com.

Here's some background:

In 2005, we reached a major milestone. For the first time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States, a federal bill was introduced that would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.

At a Capitol Hill lunch on June 23, 2005 marking the introduction of H.R. 3037, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005," Congressional staffers were treated to a delicious gourmet hemp lunch while listening to various prominent speakers tout the myriad benefits of encouraging and supporting a domestic hemp industry.

The bill was written with the help of Vote Hemp by chief sponsor Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and it garnered 11 additional co-sponsors. The bill defined industrial hemp and assigned authority over it to the states, allowing laws in those states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect.

On February 13, 2007 Rep. Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1009, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007," with nine original co-sponsors. The bill was assigned to comittee, but never received a hearing or a floor vote.

On April 2, 2009 Rep. Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1866, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009," with ten original co-sponsors: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Barney Frank (D-MA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).


Please click on this link to Take action and write to your Representative to support Hemp Farming in the U.S.


See these Quick Links for more information concerning H.R. 1866 "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009"
For excellent general background information and updates, visit Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association.


The following paragraphs are the pre-written text that you would be sending if you follow the link to Take Action :
*******************************************
I am writing to ask that you please become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, and to work to get hearings for the bill in the committees to which it has been assigned. The legislation allows American farmers to once again grow hemp to the extent allowed under state laws, repealing a provision in federal law that makes the United States the only industrialized nation where farmers are prohibited from competing in the booming industrial hemp market.

If you or your staff would like to learn more about this agricultural issue, please read the latest version of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report "Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity," which is dated March 23, 2007 and has the order code RL32725. The report can be ordered from the CRS or it can be downloaded from The National Agricultural Law Center or go here:
http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RL32725.pdf

Please also consider watching the video "Controversial Crop" from America's Heartland, which is produced by KVIE in Sacramento, California or go here:
http://www.americasheartland.org/episodes/episode_315/controversial_crop.html

Last year Vote Hemp released a poll of 807 likely North Dakota voters about industrial hemp. According to the poll, a total of 74% of North Dakotan voters support changing federal law to allow farmers to grow hemp, including 40% who "strongly support" and another 34% who "somewhat support" changes so that farmers in the U.S. can supply manufacturers with hemp seed and fiber grown from oilseed and fiber varieties of industrial hemp. You can read the poll or go here:
http://www.votehemp.com/polls.html

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 would finally allow North Dakota, and the states that have passed pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia), considered pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin), or where farm groups have advocated for a return to industrial hemp farming (Ohio and Pennsylvania), to choose whether or not to let farmers grow industrial hemp.

I would specifically like to know: Will you become a become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, which will once again permit agricultural hemp farming in the U.S.? What is your position on supporting farmers in the U.S. having the opportunity to once again farm this valuable agricultural crop? What did you, or your staff, think of the CRS report and the video? Will you work to get hearings for the bill in the committees to which it has been assigned?
*******************************************
Remember to visit http:www.YesItsOrganic.com for hemp clothing, and the best eco clothing, organic bedding, and bamboo furniture.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bamboo Shirts - Buy 1 Get 50% Savings on 2nd, 3rd and More

Classy, Soft, Fit, Bamboo Shirts Super Savings

Mix and Match Women's and Men's, Colors and Sizes

Bamboo Shirts with Style

One of Our Most Popular Shirts

The manufacturer has provided special pricing so we can make this "stimulus" offer to you on these fabulous shirts.

Pricing that makes it easy to get some for work and casual, for all the women and men, girls and boys, in your household. And they make great gifts too.

Here's what a female
customer had to say
:

"Fabulous shirt! It is stylish and extremely well made. It has a soft drape in the body and just the right amount of interfacing in the collar, front placket, and cuffs to look sharp yet remain comfortable.

The body of the shirt has gentle shaping. I received several compliments on it the first time I wore it. Thanks" -Heather K.

Women's Bamboo Shirt

Available in multiple colors.

Men's Bamboo Shirt

Available in multiple colors.

Bonus: Also get Free Shipping starting with your 4th shirt!


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Women's Bamboo Shirt

Men's Bamboo Shirt

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Bamboo Sheets Added to Bamboo Towels and Robes

We just added some wonderfully soft bamboo sheets to complement our bamboo towels and bamboo robes.

Click on any of the links above to discover the incredible benefits of bamboo in bedding, towels, and clothing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Are Organic Clothing and Bedding Really More Costly Than Non-organic Counterparts?

Organic BeddingMy direct answer is "no." I'll explain why. The primary fabrics used for organic clothing and bedding are organic cotton and organic wool.

I'm sure you'd agree that prices for non-organic cotton and non-organic wool in clothing and bedding cover a very wide range from the lowest discount store prices to the highest fashion designer prices.

Similarly, prices for organic cotton and organic wool also cover a wide range. Usually, however, you'll find the range may not be quite as low at the bottom of the scale as their non-organic counterparts. Is there a reason for this?

Yes, in fact, there are several reasons. First is that there needs to be an assurance of organic standards. These standards have been set by governments, as in the USDA NOP (U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program) standards, and trade associations, as in the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).

So one cost that exists in organic products that doesn't exist in non-organic is the cost to farmers and manufacturers associated with the certification processes to verify that the products meet the standards. Certifications allow you to feel confident in the healthy quality of organic products.

The farming practices are also commonly more labor intensive and therefore have higher costs. Also, products that meet fair labor standards have higher costs. Lastly, since the industries are still relatively small compared to total market size, there are most likely economies of scale that haven't yet been achieved.

However, if the costly negative health and environmental pollution effects from non-organic farming and manufacturing were fully born by the producers, and not the public, the retail prices of non-organic products would most likely be higher than those of organic products.

When you choose organic farming and manufacturing you are:
  • Reducing your exposure to chemicals and allergens in the products.
  • Keeping toxic chemicals out of our soil, air, and water, including groundwater and rivers.
  • Eliminating farm worker exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Supporting sustainable farming practices.
  • Increasing soil health and fertility.
To increase your knowledge on the above fabrics including farming and manufacturing considerations, I've written detailed articles on these topics including comparisons of organic standards as well as organic to non-organic counterparts.

Ed Mass is President and Founder of Yes It's Organic, an online store for Organic, Fair Labor, and Eco Friendly Green clothing including organic clothing for adults to organic baby clothes, organic bedding, organic sheets, organic towels, sustainable bamboo furniture, organic logo embroidered shirts and promotional products for organizations wanting to improve their environmental footprint. After being an environmentalist for over 40 years, including designing solar energy systems in the 1970s, Ed decided to participate more directly in growing the organic, fair labor and eco friendly industries by educating consumers and influencing their buying habits.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Yes It's Organic Approved to Green America's Green Business Network

Yes It's Organic achieved acceptance into Green America's Green Business Network through a very detailed assessment of their business practices and the accuracy of statements on their store site.

Green America told Yes It's Organic, in their congratulatory letter, "You are among [the] progressive business leaders who are solving today's tough social and environmental problems."

Yes It's Organic is among a select group of companies to achieve this recognition to show their support of the "greening" of America through action and purpose. According to Green America, "to be qualified to be listed in the National Green Pages, companies must demonstrate that they:
Focus on using business as a tool for positive social change.
Are "values-driven," as well as profit-driven.
Are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their offices and factories.
Are committed to and employ extraordinary and innovative practices that benefit: 1) workers, 2) communities, 3) customers, and 4) the environment."

"Yes It's Organic has been committed to educating its customers about the organic textile industry since its inception," says Ed Mass President and Founder of Yes It's Organic, "We are excited and honored to be recognized, for our social and environmental responsibility, by the Green America Green Business Network."

What makes a business "green"? Green America Green Business Network defines a green business as the following:
"Green businesses operate in ways that solve, rather than cause, both environmental and social problems.
These businesses adopt principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for their customers, their employees, communities, and the environment."

Mass says, "We take pride in our green and organic standards. We've eco-screened hundreds of everyday items, including adult organic clothing, organic yoga apparel, organic bedding, sustainable bamboo furniture, and organic baby clothes. That's a small portion of what we offer and we're building our inventory everyday!"

Green America is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to harnessing the economic power of consumers, investors and businesses to promote social justice and environmental sustainability.

Visit Yes It's Organic to support your personal health and educate yourself on the personal and environmental benefits of organic clothing bedding, and other items. Yes It's Organic also provides organic logo imprinted shirts and other apparel for corporations, hospitality, and events.

Ed Mass is President and Founder of Yes It's Organic, an online store for Organic, Fair Labor, and Eco Friendly Green clothing including organic clothing for adults to organic baby clothes, organic bedding, organic sheets, organic towels, sustainable bamboo furniture, organic logo embroidered shirts and promotional products for organizations wanting to improve their environmental footprint, and more. After being an environmentalist for over 40 years, including designing solar energy systems in the 1970s, Ed decided to participate more directly in growing the organic, fair labor and eco friendly industries by educating consumers and influencing their buying habits.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Q&A: Is There Such Thing As Stylish Eco Clothing?

Definitely! Especially now that more designers and manufacturers are recognizing the significance of organic and eco friendly fibers, there is a wide range of styles and designs at a variety of price points just as with non-eco-friendly fashion.

It's a myth to think that organic and eco friendly clothing doesn't have as much stylish design, or rugged "outdoor living" feel, or performance characteristics as most other clothing.

Organic fibers can even have some advantages over non-organic fibers. For example, many people, when first exposed to organic cotton clothing, remark at how soft it is and notice a distinct difference to non-organic cotton. This results from the organic cotton fibers not having been treated with the variety of harsh chemicals that are typically used in the processing of non-organic cotton.

Also, some eco friendly fibers are offering a really soft feel and wonderfully comfortable drape such as in bamboo and Tencel® clothing. Hemp clothing often offers a stylish "outdoor living" comfort for a casual day around town.

Stylish details noticeable in organic apparel collections are very much the same as those that distinguish collections on a runway. Necklines that vary from rounded to V to square; sleeve lengths from short to long and three-quarter in between; and lightweight tissue-knit cotton to everyday jersey-style cotton for varying degrees of softness. You'll also find pointelle stitching and raw-edge seeming for simple trendy touches; and buttons, pockets, cuffs and pleats that make the simplest eco clothing pieces come to life like any other.

Current style trends showcased in fashionable eco clothing include ruffle-trimmed blouses, puckered bandeau sundresses, tunic tops that double as mini dresses, and bubble hems that flatter every figure.

Eco apparel is also not just neutrals and earth tones, as the stereotype would like to report. Many manufacturers of eco clothing are using low-impact, water-based and environmentally friendly dyes (look for certifications, not all eco fabrics use safe dyes) to add vibrance and appeal. Collections mix and match prints with solids while varying fabric knits and weights to add even more stylish touches.

As with non-eco fashion, you'll find a wide range of price points and styles within many eco lines. Some clothing companies just start with a few pieces of organic and eco friendly clothing out of their entire line while other designers like Jonano, Beckons Organic, Dash Hemp, and Kate Organic use these fabrics throughout their entire collection. These fashion lines are all great examples of stylish organic and eco clothing at a great range of prices.

The bottom line is you can find all the stylish and fashionable elements in organic and eco friendly clothing that's fun and healthy for you and the environment.

Ed Mass is President and Founder of Yes It's Organic, an online store for Organic, Fair Labor, and Eco Friendly Green clothing including organic clothing for adults to organic baby clothes, organic bedding, organic sheets, organic towels, sustainable furniture, organic logo shirts and promotional products for organizations wanting to improve their environmental footprint, and more. After being an environmentalist for over 40 years, including designing solar energy systems in the 1970s, Ed decided to participate more directly in growing the organic, fair labor and eco friendly industries by educating consumers and influencing their buying habits.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When clothes are made from organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp, where are those crops grown?

The answer is "all over the world" and from different parts of the world for different crops. I've gathered some interesting facts that provide a good overview about these crops. However, keep in mind that these are not absolute in that data varies from one report to another.

Organic Cotton

The Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008 released by the Organic Exchange (www.organicexchange.org), reports that 22 countries grow organic cotton. Organic cotton accounts for approximately 0.6% of all cotton in the world.

India took over Turkey's long-standing position as the leader in organic cotton production, accounting for about half of the world's organic cotton production. Other leading organic cotton producers, according to rank, were Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, United States, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

According to a report from the U.S. based Organic Trade Association (www.ota.com), U.S. grown organic cotton is approximately 2.1% of global organic cotton. Most was grown in Texas, with limited acreage in California, New Mexico and Missouri.

Although small, organic cotton production has been increasing at rapid rates over the last several years along with demand. Yet, obviously, we still have a long way to go to make the environmental changes that are needed to support a sustainable world.

See our detailed article on organic cotton clothing.

Bamboo

Bamboo is able to adapt to a wide variety of ecosystems and climatic conditions. Bamboo is grown in numerous countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and can grow in at least 70% of the world. There are over 90 genera of bamboo with about 1,200 species globally.

Combining information from several reports, China is the largest bamboo planting country in the world (the majority of the crop is located in south China). There are over 400 varieties in China and China accounts for 25 percent of the world's total area of bamboo. Other top bamboo producing countries are India and Brazil.

See our detailed article on bamboo clothing.

Hemp

Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, dating back more than 10,000 years. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. About 14 of those sell part of their production on the world market. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production.

According to the Hemp Industries Association (www.thehia.org/facts.html) China is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. Romania is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. It is exported to Western Europe and the U.S. Hungary is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper and fiberboard. France has never prohibited hemp and is a source of hemp seed for other countries including high quality hemp oil to the U.S.

Interestingly, Poland has demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. And Russia maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. Turkey has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper and fuel.

See our detailed article on hemp clothing.

Ed Mass is President and Founder of Yes It's Organic, an online store for Organic, Fair Labor, and Eco Friendly Green clothing including adult to baby clothing, bedding, towels, mattresses, sustainable furniture, organic logo wear and promotional products for organizations wanting to improve their environmental footprint, and more. After being an environmentalist for over 40 years, including designing solar energy systems in the 1970s, Ed decided to participate more directly in growing the organic, fair labor and eco friendly industries by educating consumers and influencing their buying habits.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Q&A: Is there something inherently unsustainable about clothes made from non-organic crops and fabrics? After all cotton is "natural" isn't it?

There's a lot of intentional confusion created in the marketplace by companies that don't want to go to the effort or expense of making their products truly environmentally friendly for people and the planet by getting organic certification.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of greenwashing going on, where a company uses the word "natural" to make a product seem eco-friendly. However, while consumers perceive the word to be synonymous with "goodness," it actually has no official definition or government standards associated with it.

It attracts attention. Natural is good, unnatural is bad. These are the reasons it's used. There is really nothing "natural" about non-organic food or clothing. The word "natural" does not mean that a product lacks toxicity.

On the other hand, "Certified Organic" according to the USDA NOP (U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program) is a true, specifically defined standard for what constitutes an organically grown crop whether for food or textiles (fabrics, clothing, bedding, towels, etc).

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is a true, specifically defined standard for textiles to define an organically grown crop and an organic (non-toxic) manufacturing process including social responsibility (fair labor) standards.

I prefer the word "non-organic" instead of "natural" in order to be very clear that there is no certification applied to food and textiles unless they are "certified organic." In the U.S., the word "organic" by itself cannot legally be applied to food or textiles unless they are "certified organic" according to the USDA NOP.

Let's see what "natural", that is "non-organic", cotton may look like. Non-organic cotton is one of the top crops for its use of insecticides. The typical spraying application results in volatile organic compounds released into the air, contributing to green house gases. Additionally, such spraying harms the health of the soil and pollutes ground water, lakes, and streams.

Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin) are known cancer causing chemicals. All nine are classified by the U.S. EPA as Category I and II— the most dangerous chemicals. Depending on the practices involved, it can take up to a pound of such chemicals to grow the cotton for one pair of pants and a shirt.

Not only do these chemicals pollute the air, water, and soil but they're also retained in the crops as they're grown. In addition, other chemicals are added to the mix during the manufacturing processes. Most people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) can't wear non-organic clothing. It literally affects their health.

Organic crops are grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Organic matter and crop rotation are used to build stronger, more nutrient rich soil which retains water more efficiently than non-organic farming. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming.

Non-organic wool also uses substantial chemicals which may be unhealthy. In organic sheep production, sheep must be fed 100% organically-grown feed and forage (pastures). The use of synthetic hormones, vaccinations, and genetic engineering is prohibited, as is the use of synthetic pesticides (internal, external, and on pastures).

There are two key distinctions in organic livestock management. First is the elimination of "dipping," a method of controlling external parasites in which sheep are submerged in pools containing organophosphate-based parasiticides. Studies have indicated that prolonged exposure to sheep dip pesticides cause changes in the nervous system of humans. (Imagine how the sheep feel about this process!) Moreover, disposal and "runoff" of dips can contaminate ground water supplies.

Secondly, in order to maintain their certification, organic livestock producers cannot exceed the natural carrying capacity of the land, thus preventing the devastating effects of overgrazing.

I think this provides a pretty good idea of the distinctions between "natural" and "organic." Some entities have tried to discredit organic certification but that's only done because they don't want to spend the effort and cost involved in cleaning up their act.

Have a question? Submit it to us through our Contact Us page and we'll answer you directly plus post the answer in our blog.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bamboo Clothing Caution

by Ed Mass, President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

Bamboo blended with non-organic cotton just doesn't make sense to me.
Does it to you?

Bamboo in clothing, sheets, and towels is being promoted, accurately, as a sustainable resource. As discussed in detail in another article I wrote (Bamboo - Luxurious and Practical for Clothes, Towels, and Sheets), the farming is typically carried out organically, even if not certified, or at least in an evironmentally friendly manner. Also discussed are the aspects of the environmental friendliness of the manufacturing processes.

However, there is another important concern. Bamboo is being blended with many other fabrics to achieve varying characteristics of the finished item. However, when it's blended with non-organic yarns, for example non-organic cotton and synthetics, which are very environmentally destructive to our air, water, and soil as well as the farm workers, it really doesn't make sense.

Possibly the only argument that can justify these types of blends is one that says "well, it's better than 100% non-organic cotton." Is the glass half full or half empty? It may not be better if it creates a sense of accomplishment that derails the real objective of creating friendly clothing to both people and planet. It's important for you to be knowledgeable of the issues when evaluating bamboo blends when the item is being promoted as eco friendly, sustainable, and "green." What do you think?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bamboo - Luxurious and Practical for Clothes, Towels, and Sheets

By Ed Mass, President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

Bamboo has garnered a lot of attention in the fashion industry as well as for everyday textiles for sheets, towels and robes. The attention is due to its potential environmental friendliness combined with its luxuriously soft feel, flowing drape and many other properties.

What's So Great About Bamboo?

There are more than 1,000 bamboo species. This diversity makes it more adaptable to different climatic zones than most other softwoods. It can grow over approximately 70% of the earth's land area. Bamboo is one of the most renewable resources on Earth.

Bamboo is abundantly available in many rural areas where economic development is limited so it can offer a social benefit as well. Through research and development of more ways to utilize bamboo, rural areas are afforded an opportunity to maintain their culture and lifestyle while lifting their economic situation. Bamboo is an extremely versatile plant as evidenced by its use for income, food and housing.

Different species are used for different purposes including food for Pandas, edible food for humans, feed for livestock, woven handcraft products such as baskets and mats, textile products such as yarn, linens, and clothing, ingredients for Chinese medicines, and construction for flooring, fences and roofing.

Bamboo for Clothes?

Bamboo makes a wonderful clothing material. Due to its hollow fiber, bamboo has unusual breathing capabilities. The fiber is filled with micro gaps and micro-holes which allow for better moisture absorption and ventilation than other fibers. Bamboo fiber absorbs and evaporates perspiration quickly.

Comfort. Bamboo apparel is comfortable, very breathable, moisture-wicking, fast drying, and thermal regulating. Bamboo fabric is anti-static so it doesn't cling. Bamboo is often described as having the "ultra softness of cashmere and the sheen (luster) of silk." It feels simultaneously luxurious and practical.

Bacteria (Odor) Resistant. Bamboo is naturally resistant to bacterial growth due to a bio-agent called "kun" which resists the growth of bacteria on the fiber. This is normally carried through to the finished product allowing it to also resist the growth of bacteria that causes odors even after numerous washings.

This eliminates the need for anti-microbial chemical treatment which is known to cause allergic reaction and is environmentally unfriendly. When you perspire, your clothing will not pick up the odor of your perspiration as readily as other materials. Washing less often saves energy and makes clothes last longer.

Thermal Regulating. Wouldn't it be nice to have a fabric that makes you feel cooler in hot weather and warmer in cool weather? Sounds like a paradox, doesn't it? Bamboo does this.

Superior Wicking Capability. Bamboo is highly absorbent, much more so and faster drying than cotton. In warm, humid and sweaty weather, bamboo clothing doesn't stick to the skin. It keeps you drier, cooler and more comfortable.

Hypoallergenic. Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic which means it's less likely to cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.

Wrinkle resistant. Bamboo clothing is naturally more wrinkle-resistant than cotton. While it might still require ironing after washing, bamboo fabric can be ironed at a lower temperature than cotton. Shrinkage during washing and drying should be minimal at warm temperatures. One technique to reduce or practically eliminate wrinkling, which could also apply to cotton and other fabrics, is to put clothes in the dryer for just two to five minutes to get out the wrinkles induced by the spinning of the washing machine. Then, and this is key, immediately take them out of the dryer and hang dry.

Colorfast. Bamboo accepts organic and natural dyes more rapidly and thoroughly, with less dye use, than cotton, modal or viscose (Rayon). The color is much more vivid. Bamboo fabrics don't need to be mercerized to improve their luster and dye-ability like cotton requires.

Easy Care and Energy Efficient. Bamboo is machine washable in cool water. Fabric softeners are not needed or recommended.

Bamboo Farming

Bamboo farming is typically a very environmentally responsible, renewable, and sustainable practice. Practically all bamboo comes from China. China has often had a "bad rap" for unfair labor and environmentally destructive practices. However, like anywhere else, it depends on the individual circumstances, people, and factories that are producing the goods.

If the company that is having their clothing made in China has requirements for protecting the environment and fair labor, they can find the contract manufacturing businesses to satisfy these concerns. Third party certification can be utilized as a more certain level of verification.

Environmentally Responsible. Chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are not needed in the growing of bamboo as it is seldom eaten by insects or infected by pathogens. In addition to this reduced consumption and impact of petroleum based chemicals, there is the secondary effect that petroleum consuming and polluting tractors are not used nearly as much as with other crops.

Bamboo also has relatively low water needs especially compared to cotton and most other crops. Bamboo does extremely well in impoverished soils. Bamboo roots help retain water in a watershed area due to their tight hold on the soil. It's been reported that compared to an equivalent stand of trees, bamboo takes in more carbon dioxide, removing this green house gas from the atmosphere, and produces 35% more oxygen than trees.

Renewable and Sustainable Resource. The entire plant is never harvested and re-growth occurs naturally and rapidly. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It can grow to its full height in three months and then be ready to harvest in three to four years as its thickness fills out. In fact, it's hard to stop it from spreading as anyone knows who's planted it in their back yard. Bamboo is one of the world's most naturally renewable and sustainable resources.

Bamboo is increasingly plantation-raised to fulfill the growing demand for it. Plantation grown may be beneficial or detrimental depending on how it's done and the wages paid that create social value or social detriment.

Biodegradable. Bamboo fiber and fabric, as a natural cellulose fiber, is biodegradable in soil by microorganisms and sunshine. The decomposition process doesn't cause any pollution to the environment. A problem may arise if blending bamboo with a synthetic elastic such as Lycra(r)

Bamboo Processing - Here's the Tricky Part

Although bamboo farming is wonderfully sustainable, bamboo fabric has other considerations. There are two basic means of processing bamboo to make the plant into a fabric: mechanically and chemically. One mechanical method crushes the woody parts and uses natural enzymes to break the bamboo stalks into a pulp so the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn.

Another mechanical method crushes the woody parts of the bamboo plant into a powder which is mixed with water. Either mechanical process is more labor intensive and costly than the chemical process so they aren't used very often.

In the chemical process, a harsh chemical is often used to break the bamboo stalks into a pulp. This can be more or less environmentally friendly depending on whether the chemical is captured and re-used. In other chemical processes, a non-toxic chemical may be used and it also may or may not be recovered and re-used.

Often the chemical process that is used is the same process used to make rayon. Rayon is also called viscose especially in Europe. The rayon process is an environmentally unfriendly process and may introduce some heavy metals into the fiber.

There is an environmentally friendly chemical process called lyocell. One brand name for the lyocell process is Tencel(r). There's no reason that the lyocell process can't be used to convert bamboo into a fiber. The only impediment is the cost of creating the factories. This process will eventually be used and become common as more demand is created for environmentally friendly clothing from farming through manufacturing.

Regardless of which mechanical or chemical process is used, the bamboo slurry that's created is extruded through a shower head-like device to create the fiber. Fiber manufactured in this manner, as slurry that is forced through an extrusion process to create a fiber, is called a "human-made, regenerated" fiber.

There are three classifications of fibers:
  • Natural fibers originating from plants or animals such as cotton, wool and silk. Cotton is also referred to as a "vegetable" fiber.

  • Synthetic fibers derived from petroleum such as polyester, polyamide and acrylics.

  • Human-made fibers based on natural sources of cellulose such as beech wood (as in the case of rayon and modal), eucalyptus (as in the case of Tencel®), and bamboo.

Bamboo Labeling

Since bamboo fiber is classified as a “human-made, regenerated” fiber, there has been some concern and discussion about the proper way to label it in clothing and other textiles.The concern centers around identifying the manufacturing process used to create the fiber from the bamboo plant.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has regulations for the proper labeling of bamboo. Correctly labeled bamboo products are as follows, as appropriate to the actual process used: “rayon of bamboo”, “rayon made with bamboo”, “viscose of bamboo”, “viscose made with bamboo", "lyocell of bamboo", or "lyocell made with bamboo."

There are a variety of incorrect labels according to the FTC, unless the mechanical process was actually used to break down the fiber, for example, “bamboo” or "100% bamboo" or any label that does not start with the process used if the process is a chemical process.

Some bamboo is certified organic at the farm level. In this case it can be labeled, as appropriate, "rayon of certified organic bamboo", "rayon of organic bamboo", "viscose of certified organic bamboo", "viscose of organic bamboo", "lyocell of certified organic bamboo", or "lyocell of organic bamboo."

Ideally, we want bamboo textiles, such as clothing, towels, and sheets, that are certified organic, or equivalent from an environmental viewpoint, from farming through manufacturing. Until the standards exist that cover this entire process, there are other options to be confident in the purity of the finished product. One option is to have the finished item certified to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100. This is labeled as: “Confidence in Textiles. Tested for Harmful Substances according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100.” The list of criteria contains over 100 test parameters for harmful substances to assure that the textiles are not harmful to health.

One important consideration is that even though the manufacturing process may not be where we want it to be yet, the entire process, if conducted with an awareness to its environmental impact, may still be better than most non-organic fibers and fabrics with all their chemical, synthetic, and water intensive processes in farming through manufacturing.

Evolutionary Process of Fiber Development

With growing concerns for personal health and the environment, we will see continual development in the evolution of organic, environmentally friendly, and sustainable farming and manufacturing practices and processes of fiber development.

Therefore, it is up to the concerned consumer to inquire about the entire process from farm to finished good, or be confident that the retailer has evaluated their suppliers, to be sure that the finished goods are healthy to both people and planet.

Ed Mass is President and Founder of Yes It's Organic (www.YesItsOrganic.com), an online store for Organic, Fair Labor, and Eco Friendly goods including adult to baby clothing, bedding, towels, mattresses, sustainable furniture, organic logo wear and promotional products for organizations wanting to improve their environmental footprint, and more. After being an environmentalist for over 40 years, including designing solar energy systems in the 1970s, he decided to participate more directly in growing the organic, fair labor and eco friendly industries by educating consumers and influencing their buying habits.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Organic Textiles - Growth in a Down Economy

By Ed Mass, President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

We'll look at some numbers in a second but first some personal experience. Yes It's Organic is an online store for organic, fair labor, and eco friendly goods including clothing, organic cotton and organic wool bedding, and other organic and eco textiles. During the fall holiday season of 2008 several of my suppliers actually ran out of stock.

Okay, you may be thinking they didn't do a good job of calculating how much they'd need. Here's the rub. They ordered 100% to 150% more than they did the previous year. That's in a very down economy. Prices of these goods aren't at the very low end of the scale either. I'd say that's great growth.

Remember, this isn't organic food which has gotten a lot of notice. I'm talking about organic and eco friendly textiles including certified organic cotton, certified organic wool, hemp, and bamboo.

It shows an increasing number of people are becoming conscious of the impact on the environment of their everyday purchases. And their willing to make changes.

Now for some interesting numbers. Be patient. You'll be amazed by the conclusion (but don't peak). The amount of organic cotton farmers grew worldwide in 2007/2008 increased 152 percent. This is according to a report by Organic Exchange, title "Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008." The report included organic cotton production in 22 countries.

The top ten organic cotton producing countries in order by rank were India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, USA, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso. India took over the number one position which Turkey had held for quite some time. The majority of the increased organic cotton production took place in India.

That was the foundation for this next amazing statistic. Organic cotton production has grown to an estimated 0.55 percent of global cotton production. That's all. Even with the above seemingly large increase, and the number of countries growing organic cotton, it's still a tiny fraction of all cotton. That means we've got a very long road, or vast opportunity, to make significant inroads into reducing the huge environmental harm from non-organic cotton farming.

And where does the U.S. stand in regard to its organic cotton production as a percentage of worldwide organic cotton production? According to the Organic Trade Association, it's only 2.1%. That's one reason that U.S. grown organic cotton is sometimes hard to find.

Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers or genetically modified seeds.
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