Swap Cotton For Sustainable Fabric In Our Schools
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How do we know?
- A single cotton t-shirt consumes 2,700 liters of fresh water, enough for a person to drink for 2 and a half years, according to WorldWildLife
- Cotton takes up about 25% of the pesticides, 16% of insecticides, and 6.8% of the herbicides globally, making cotton one of the most chemical intensive plants on the planet, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA)
- Conventionally grown cotton used $3.3 billion worth of pesticides in 2014. These pesticides include chemicals such as formaldehyde and aldicarb, which are very toxic. The runoff from all these chemicals negatively impacts any nearby bodies of water, often ruining freshwater habitats
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions are a major contributor to global warming as they trap heat from the sun in our atmosphere. Cotton growers use nitrogen based synthetic fertilizers for 52% of cotton, and these are a major contributor to N2O emissions, which are 310 times more potent than CO2 emissions, according to the OTA
- "Global cotton production releases 220 million metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide a year, with one MT of non-organic cotton fiber producing 1.8 MT of carbon dioxide" (OTA, 2017)
So cotton is environmentally terrible, but does this somehow directly affect students wearing cotton uniforms?
On the other hand, clothing made from sustainable materials are not harmful to your skin at all. In the case of hemp clothing, it's actually healthy.
What are sustainable fabrics and why are they better?
- Hemp is "so green it's carbon negative." It enriches the soil it was grown on, and is pesticide free. Hemp is 3x more durable than cotton, and very breathable. On top of that, it gets softer with each wash.
- Bamboo works wonders as a fiber. It grows without pesticides, is naturally anti-bacterial, wrinkle resistant, thermo-regulating, fast drying, and very soft. It's one of the best quality fibers while still being eco-friendly. There is a chemical process that goes into converting it into a fiber, but this can still be done in a sustainable way. Ethical clothing manufacturers use a "closed loop system" which captures 99.5% of the chemicals used in the process in order to reuse them, minimizing environmental harm.
- Organic cotton is grown the way nature meant it to be. While normal cotton is extremely harmful, organic cotton takes 71% less water, is grown without pesticides, and needs no chemicals to be converted into fabric, according to the website aboutorganiccotton.org
- Typically, hemp is mixed with either bamboo or organic cotton, so the finished product is durable, breathable and soft.
Will Sustainable fashion be more expensive?
Yes. Cotton is cheap to produce, and sustainable fashion isn't. However, the benefits far outweigh the extra cost. These uniforms would be more durable, longer lasting, and much healthier for those wearing them. On top of that, it helps the environment and helps to secure a better future. On average, the price difference will be around $10 higher for a sustainable t-shirt. But if you ask us, there's more than enough value here to justify it.
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