The word “organic” has experienced a meteoric rise in status in the last decade as more and more people have become aware about where their products come from and how they are produced. Products such as organic foods, organic bedding, and of course organic clothing have shot up in the consciousness of consumers but the word does conjure a sense of “granola” or a sense of rough fabrics that only are used to make clothes that look like burlap sacks. Advances in technology and methods used by organic farmers and companies who aim to produce products with little to no ill-effects on the environment have greatly pushed sustainable fabrics as viable options for soft, durable, and fashionable options for children.

The question that many parents ask themselves is “Why should I switch to clothing made from organically grown fibers versus conventionally grown fibers.” This is a basic question that needs to be answered. There are many benefits to having your children’s clothing made from organic fibers but the main benefits are four-fold:

1. It is better for the environment
2. It is better for the farmers and workers on organic farms
3. It is better for your health and your child’s health
4. It is cheaper in the long run

Since cotton is the most commonly used crop in the production of clothes, we’ll use it as our example. Organic cotton is grown on farms using methods that have a low impact on our environment. In fact, according to the Organic Trade Association, “Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.” All this means that the shirt your put on your child came from cotton crops from farms that make a conscious effort to do as little harm to the environment as possible. Plus, it is not easy getting an organic certification since “all cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.” You are getting what you paid for when you make a purchase.

There are not a lot of regulations that protect farmers and those who work on farms from the pesticides and insecticides that are used on conventionally grown cotton crops. Many of these pesticides and insecticides are toxins that were developed during World War II as biological weapons these workers have no protection against coming in contact with them. Organic farms do not use these poisons which create a better working environment which, unfortunately, is a luxury for those working on conventional farms. We are not talking about a small does of pesticides either. Cotton crops account for roughly 2.4 percent of all cultivated land in the world however they also use about 25 percent of the world’s pesticides and 10 percent of the world’s insecticides every year. This is staggering amount of toxins are what farmers have to face each and every day but it can be completely preventable by supporting organic farming methods.

This completely imbalanced ratio also affects your child as your child’s sensitive and delicately porous skin is in contact with these pesticides. Johnson & Johnson states, “A baby’s skin is thinner, more fragile and less oily than an adult’s. A baby’s skin also produces less melanin, the substance that helps protect against sunburn. It’s less resistant to bacteria and harmful substances in the environment, especially if it’s irritated. Babies also sweat less efficiently than the rest of us, so it’s harder for them to maintain their inner body temperature.” This means that your children are more susceptible skin allergies than adults and more prone to pesticide related health issues.

In the long run, clothes made from organic fibers are cheaper than it’s counterparts made from conventionally grown cotton. The reason is due to the abusive process conventionally grown cotton takes. Conventionally produced cotton material typically lasts about 10-20 washing cycles before it starts to wear away. Compare this to an organic cotton material which lasts for about 100 washes or more before it begins to erode. As mentioned, conventionally produced cotton goes through tremendous abuse such as scouring, bleaching, dying, and formaldehyde spray all before it is even shipped to be cut for patterns for products. The difference is felt in your wallet but it is also felt by your child as her favorite blanket can last a lot longer and his favorite t-shirt do not have be thrown away before he is ready to give it up.

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