Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Buy Organic Cotton?

Last spring I started a series on fabrics, I covered bamboo and hemp pros and cons.  I meant to move on to cotton, but reading about all the chemicals used in the growing and manufacturing process was so overwhelming that I put it aside for a while.  Now I feel ready to tackle the cotton question.  I am taking several excerpts from and I suggest that if you want more information (much more) you read their blogs, as they have so much information on everything natural, organic and healthy in regards to clothing and fashion.

First of all, before we even get to the part about what is touching your skin and possibly being absorbed, read about conventional cotton farming.  Keep in mind that so much of our clothing and cotton comes from other countries, who most likely have an even lower standard of chemical use that the U.S.

Conventionally grown cotton.  Farmers in the United States apply nearly one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for every pound of cotton harvested. When all nineteen cotton-growing states are tallied, cotton crops account for twenty-five percent of all the pesticides used in the U.S. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In developing countries, where regulations are less stringent, the amount of herbicides and insecticides and their toxicity is often greater than in the U.S.
Perspective, just 2.4% of the world's arable land is planted with cotton yet it accounts for 24% of the world's insecticide market and 11% of global pesticides sales, making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet.  The pesticides used by farmers not only kill cotton pests but also decimate populations of beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps.   Because their natural enemies have been eradicated, these target insects, which were once only minor nuisances for farmers, become greater problems and ever-increasing quantities of toxic chemicals must be sprayed to keep them in check.  Farmers then become stuck on what is known as the ‘pesticide treadmill’.
Pesticides not only disrupt the balance of nature in the field, but also harm people who come in contact with them.  According to the Organic Consumers Association, the use of pesticides, which includes insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, for conventional cotton production has created serious problems for human health and the environment in all cotton-growing regions worldwide.
Also the byproducts of cotton are used for animal feed and to make cotton seed oil, thus further adding to the chemical contamination in our food chain.

So lets talk about what that means to your personal pelt - here are a few pesticide statistics
    *1/3 of a pound of chemicals went into producing enough cotton for ONE t-shirt.
    *It took 3/4 of a pound  of chemicals to make that ONE pair of designer jeans.
    *The same materials used to make the clothes you wear ALL DAY- EVERY DAY, are the same materials that you lay in for 8+ hours every night while getting your ZZZ’s. 
taken from
The excerpt below talks about the chemical process in the manufacturing of cotton.  While the chemicals used to grown cotton may be mostly washed out during manufacturing, the chemicals used to finish it are not.  This is what poses a danger to our own personal skin...
Conventionally Manufactured Cotton. Conventionally manufactured cotton must be chemically processed to become the soft fiber that consumers love.  Although cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the United States, much of the pesticide and herbicide is bleached out or washed away during the manufacturing process, but a variety of toxic chemicals, oils, and waxes are used to manufacture, knit and weave convention cotton fabrics.  The chemical residues of these processes constitute the major sensitivity problems experienced by people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
Only in the spinning process where cotton fibers are spun into yarn is cotton untouched by chemicals or oils.  After spinning, the yarn receives a polyvinyl alcohol sizing to make the yarn easier to weave. After weaving, the fabric is then bleached.  Half the companies in the U.S. use hydrogen peroxide, but half still use highly toxic chlorine.  Companies outside the >U.S. and Europe, where most garments are produced, are more likely to use chlorine.  The sizing is then removed from the fabric with a detergent.  Next, it is washed or “scoured” with sodium hydroxide. Finally, it is piece-dyed, often with formaldehyde-fixing agents.  An additional washing is needed to attempt to remove the formaldehyde-fixing agents. 
The last step is finishing and this is where many chemical sensitivity problems begin.  A urea-formaldehyde product which cross-links molecules is routinely applied to all United States cottons to reduce shrinkage and wrinkling.  Cotton is a fiber designed by nature to absorb, and heat is used to lock finishes into the fiber.  When heat is applied, this molecule expands and becomes permanently bound in the fiber.  That is why it cannot be washed or dry cleaned out.
Lastly lets look at the processing and manufacturing of organic cotton to compare...
Organically grown cotton.   Working with rather than against nature is the guiding principle behind organic farming. Organic farmers use biologically-based rather than chemically dependent growing systems to raise crops.  While many conventional farmers are reacting to the ecological disorder created by monocultures, organic farmers focus on preventing problems before they occur. 
By focusing on managing rather than completely eliminating troublesome weeds and insects, organic farmers are able to maintain ecological balance and protect the environment.  Organic cotton is now being grown in more than 18 countries worldwide.  In the United States, approximately 10,000 acres of organic cotton were planted in 1998 in the Mid-South, Texas and California.
And wearing it.....
Manufacturing organic cotton.  At each manufacturing step, organic clothing manufacturers do not add petroleum scours, silicon waxes, formaldehyde, anti-wrinkling agents, chlorine bleaches, or other unauthentic materials.  Natural alternatives such as natural spinning oils that biodegrade easily are used to facilitate spinning; potato starch is used for sizing; hydrogen peroxide is used for bleaching; organic color grown cottons and low-impact dyes and earth clays are used for coloration; and natural vegetable and mineral inks and binders are used for printing on organic cotton fabric.  These natural alternatives are used to reduce and eliminate the toxic consequences found in conventional cotton fabric manufacturing. 
Because of its impact on the environment, and the laborers who grow and process the cotton, and because of the amount of chemicals used to process and manufacture the cotton into fabric, I am making the decision to work towards more organic clothing.  In my shop I already use only organic fabrics for things that regularly touch your skin(except the back side of my wipes, which I am working on).  While organic clothing is somewhat hard to find, especially for adults, I am happy to discover as they also have a large line of products and links to other sellers.  It is a lot to think about, and can seem overwhelming, but every little change we make helps.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Healthnut Foodie: 2012 Dirty Dozen List -- via

Healthnut Foodie: 2012 Dirty Dozen List -- via

The new 2012 Dirty Dozen List is out, read about it in Heatlhnut Foodies link above and you can even download an app to keep the EWG's current clean and dirty lists on your smartphone!

Happy and Healthy Eating!

Healthnut Foodie: 2012 Dirty Dozen List -- via

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Kokka Echino Prints on the way!

I wanted to do a quick post to feature a few new Kokka Echino fabrics.  These fabrics have been some of my most popular choices for wet bags, hanging laundry bags and cloth diapering items.  So without further adieu, here they are....
This one is called Cars and it has a natural cute little car on a navy background.  It is a cotton canvas, so it will make a nice heavy duty wet bag or hanging laundry bag.  Look for it soon in my shop

This one is my favorite because it is elephants!  Lime and purple elephants romping around on a natural background.
lightweight cotton oxford canvas, will also make great bags.

Songbirds are a favorite recurring theme in Etsuko Furuya's designs.  The teal and purple/pink flowers and brown and lime birds are so beautiful.  This is a great linen cotton blend fabric.  This one is also already in my shop with a brown background and orange flowers.

I have also ordered the premier prints zigzag in some other colors.  This bag has been very popular in my shop, so I have decided to add a few more colors.  This fabric is available in several color patterns, so please feel free to convo me through my etsy shop or comment below if you are looking for any other colors.
The colors I have ordered are

and LIME and WHITE
These zig zag pattern chevron prints are really beautiful and add such a nice touch to any nursery room

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Going paperless in the Kitchen

I recently started feeling like I really wanted to reduce the amount of money we spend on disposable items, that with a little bit of extra work could be replaced by cloth.  It wasn't until I started doing a little research on it, that I was convinced to really give it a on about "un-paper towels"...and see the end of the article for a one week special offer!

Why Un Paper Towel?
Everyone is always encouraging us to "Go Green" it's good for the environment right?  More importantly, it is good for yourself and your family.  Chemicals are everywhere.  The more we can do to reduce our chemical contact, the better it is for our health.  Paper towels typically contain chlorine (Sodium hypochlorite) this is used to bleach them and give them that nice white look.  Unfortunately this bleaching causes the formation of dioxin, an extremely toxic and persistent chemical known to cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system.  If we can do this one thing and eliminate paper towels from our kitchen we will reduce our contact with this dangerous chemical.  

Using organic material in the place of paper products will reduce the chemicals we come in contact with as well.  Buying organic also sends producers a message that will help reduce chemical use in agriculture.

Here are some ideas for safe household cleaners to go with your un paper towels *

Single-ingredient, common household materials such as baking soda, vinegar, or plant-based soaps and detergents can often do the job on surfaces. Soap and water has been shown to keep surfaces as free of bacteria as antibacterial soaps do. If your carpet needs professional cleaning, enlist a carpet service that uses less-toxic cleaners that are low in VOCs and irritants.
  • Baking soda works well to clean sinks, tubs and toilets, and it freshens drains as well.
  • Vegetable oil with a little lemon juice works wonders on wood furniture.
  • Simmer a mixture of cloves and cinnamon or use vinegar and water as a safe and environmentally friendly air freshener. Consider how you can eliminate odor problems rather than just covering them up.
  • Use vinegar and water in a pump spray bottle for cleaning mirrors and shining chrome. Vinegar or soap and water with drying rags or a squeegee also work well for cleaning windows.
  • Use reusable unbleached cotton towels, rags, and non-scratch scrubbing sponges for all-purpose cleaning instead of bleached disposable paper products.
  • Use dishwasher detergents that are free of chlorine bleach and lowest in phosphates.
  • Use bathroom cleaners that are free of aerosol propellants and antibacterial agents.
  • For greasy or grimy messes cut up old T shirts for rags that can be discarded after use
As a bonus the average size family can save $100.00 a year by using recyclable washable un paper towels.  

*some cleaning suggestions from

Click on either picture to see the organic hemp/cotton unpaper towels in my shop.  For my blog readers only use coupon code UNPAPER for a 20% on a set of unpaper towels  ONE WEEK ONLY! Offer ends June 16, 2012!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mama Market

This week end I participated in a wonderful sale  called the Mama Market.  It was sponsored by The Soft Landing, which is an "eco + logical" mom and baby network.  As they say on their web site, "Our Market was inspired by busy moms who are searching for top-notch products made by local, trustworthy business owners.  We hope to create a strong eco+logical community by connecting parents with the finest mompreneurs in Kansas City."

This was such a great opportunity to meet other hard working and super creative moms.  I totally enjoyed getting to know some new people and doing some networking, not to mention visiting with some friends!  

The Soft Landing  will be hosting more Mama Markets around the area.  You can visit their web site to see all the great eco logical things they do, and to  see when and where the next Mama Market will take place.

Before the sale I had been thinking about paper towels and using "un paper towels" I had ordered some organic hemp cotton muslin fabric to make some flats with, and decided to have a go at some un paper towels.  Here are my results.  
I have enjoyed testing these out around the house, and have decided to list them on my Etsy site.  In my next post I will be sharing my research on why paper towels and wipes are not necessarily the best thing to be coming in contact with our skin!

Stay tuned for more eco friendly news!