What Does “Organic” Mean?

We all know the word organic just feels better. But what does it really mean?

From the veggies in your fridge to the clothes in your closet, crops grown organically are grown with GMO-free seed and follow practices that maintain soil health, conserve water, and support biodiversity.

Take that apple you ate for lunch. Why is it organic? Because the entire farming system used to produce it avoided the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. We’re officially changing the old saying to go something like “an organic apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Just like food takes the whole farming system into account, the whole apparel supply chain plays a part in determining whether that T-shirt you’re wearing is organic. Let’s start with the Holy Grail of organic textiles: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). For an item to be organic, it must follow GOTS’ specific list of criteria through every stage of its process – from production to processing to packaging. Here are some of the major criteria:

Organic farming cannot use any pesticides.

For comparison, conventional cotton uses 16% of the world’s pesticides. Pesticide exposure has been known to cause impaired memory, severe depression, and immune system disruption among cotton farmers. Pesticides further permeate the ecosystem, waterways and surrounding arable land. By committing to organic cotton, we’re supporting better farming practices and protecting farmers’ quality of life.

Organic growing practices also support soil and land health.

Healthy land retains more nutrients and can produce crops for more seasons than conventional land. And here’s some cool science for you: Some organic growing techniques improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, pulling it from the atmosphere. On organic farms, soil productivity is often preserved with cover crops instead of synthetic fertilizer, so farmers can sell these crops for additional income, making this whole process twice as awesome.

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Organic agriculture uses water more responsibly.

A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years). Organic cotton uses far less water, and a more sustainable kind of water called “green water.” Green water uses rain water instead of irrigation, while “blue water” is pumped in from from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow. Cotton cannot be certified organic unless it uses a certain amount of green water versus blue.

Organic farming supports biodiversity.

Research shows that biodiversity is greater on organic farms than conventional farms. Visit an organic farm and you’ll see more plants, flowers, insects, and butterflies. Why the abundance? Because organic farms aren’t filled with those nasty pesticides killing off natural pollinators. Living creatures are more likely to survive and thrive (PS: we’re really into bugs. Here’s more on that).

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Organic farms are in it for the long haul.

Fields can’t be considered organic until they’ve committed to the GOTS process for at least three years. This ensures that the soil has enough time to flush all of the toxins that have accumulated. So even if you’re farming organically now, you can’t be certified after your first year – No cutting corners!

Our Verdict: Organic Cotton or bust.

Apparel production touches the lives of people at every phase of the supply chain. Our commitment to sustainable sourcing is designed to protect the planet and all people throughout the supply chain (and that includes you!). When you shop organic cotton clothing, you can feel good knowing that you support it, too. So next time you’re shopping for clothes, choose organic. Consider it the equivalent of going to the Farmer’s Market (for your closet).

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Feeling inspired?  Shop MEN’S ORGANIC COTTON and WOMEN’S ORGANIC COTTON

 

 

Sustainability Cheat Sheet

 

During the busiest shopping season of the year, we want you to shop responsibly. Did you know that close to 12.7 million tons of textiles end up in the landfills annually? And that the textile industry is one of highest polluting industries on the planet? Luckily, there are lots of brands devoted to making clothing that minimizes our impact on the planet. If we could, we’d go naked everywhere, all the time. But eventually we’d get cold and crabby and probably make some rash decisions. Everybody wears clothes, everybody shops and that’s okay. Just shop with knowledge and give gifts that are sustainably built and from environmentally conscious brands. So cut this cheat sheet out, commit it to memory, screen shot it, send it to your friends and family, tattoo it to your arm… whatever you have to do. Just remember, what’s good for the planet is good for you, too. Happy Holidays!

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Feeling inspired? Shop our Organic Cotton Styles for Men and Women

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 Non-Mulesed Merino Wool Sweaters 

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100% Organic Cotton, 100% of the Time

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Goal Achieved: 100% of the cotton we use is certified organic!

Nothing feels better than organic cotton – it’s soft, it breathes and it feels just as good on your conscience as it does on your skin. We’ve been incorporating organic cotton into our fabrics for years, each season replacing more conventional cotton with organic. So it’s with our re-usable cups held high that we cheers to achieving our goal of 100% organic anywhere we use cotton!

Although it comes from a plant, conventionally grown cotton is actually very un-natural. According to the Textile Exchange, conventional cotton crops are doused in millions of pounds of chemicals each year – chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers, soil additives and defoliants. These substances wreak havoc on soil, water, air, and all sorts of ecosystems, including human ones. That’s a big price to pay for cotton.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative: organic cotton. Organic cotton farming does not allow the use of toxic chemicals or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Instead, it combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote good quality of life for all involved. To ensure that we’re buying organic cotton, we only buy cotton that is certified organic. We’re also members of the Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organization that works to make the textile industry more sustainable by identifying best practices, so we’re always in the know about the latest and greatest in textile sustainability. For more information about organic cotton, visit aboutorganiccotton.org.

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Graphics courtesy of aboutorganiccotton.org, Textile Exchange

Shop Men’s Organic Cotton Styles and Women’s Organic Cotton  Styles 

Wear Green Every Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll wear green to celebrate. In honor of the planet, we wear “green” every day. “Green”, “eCo”, “sustainable”, “earth-friendly” – whatever you call it, we subscribe to the idea that you should never have to choose between living well and doing good. Our design approach is to make great clothes that last and work to lighten our collective environmental footprint. 

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It all starts with the fibers that make up our fabrics. Fibers, natural or man made, are the building blocks of yarns, which are then woven or knitted into the fabrics we use. We choose fibers for their various aesthetic and performance attributes and their sustainability factor. We’re big fans of organic cottonTencel®Modal®, recycled polyester and reclaimed wool. Fun fact: 100% of our cotton is certified organic!

Once we’ve got our “green” building blocks, we strive to develop fabrics with just as much integrity – we call these our eCo FabricsWe define eCo fabrics as any fabric that uses preferred “green” fibers and/or bluesign® certified fabrics. bluesign® is the “green” watchdog of the garment industry. bluesign® certification assures the use of chemicals and processes that are safe for the environment and best practices for efficient use of energy, water, emissions monitoring and worker safety. We’re proud that as of spring 2019, 100% of our product is considered eCo. So go ahead and wear green on St. Patrick’s Day – and every day.

Our greenest green…

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Our Men’s Hookline Shirt is made from 100% recycled fibers.

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Our Women’s Epique Short Sleeve Dress is made from all natural hemp and organic cotton that comes straight from the earth.

We ♡ Samba230

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Our favorite Samba fabric just captured our hearts all over again. A cool-weather twist on our favorite year-round knit, Samba 230 (grams, that is) offers 30% more weight for colder temps, more coverage and more Samba love. Made from a mix of eco-friendly Tencel®, feel-good organic cotton and a hint of stretchy spandex, we knew we loved Samba from first touch. So with Samba 230, there’s even more to love.

Samba 230 is 55% organic cotton (that’s where the heft comes from), 39% Tencel (that’s the silky-soft part) and 6% spandex (so you’re always feeling comfy). And to top it all off, Samba 230 is just about as environmentally friendly as they come.

Organic cotton farming starts with GMO-free seeds and follows practices that maintain soil health, conserve water and support biodiversity. And Tencel® is an eco-chic dream come true: This cellulosic fiber is derived from eucalyptus trees (which grow in soil that specifically cannot be used for food crops) in a closed-loop production process. Efficient, clean and 98% of the by-products are recovered and reused. What’s not to love?