Sustainable Fabric: The Quick and Dirty about Cotton

Sustainable Fabric: The Quick and Dirty about Cotton

Often when we think of sustainable fabric with natural fibers, we think of cotton. It is grown in America and marketed as one of the softest and most useful materials for our everyday needs. Many consider it a sustainable fabric choice for clothing and will choose it over synthetics and other blends. So, a label that says 100% Cotton might instill consumer confidence in the product. And it may communicate to the consumer that the product is safe and reliable. But, that’s a dangerous assumption to make.

What You Need to Know About Conventionally Grown Cotton, the World’s Dirtiest Crop

Despite it’s reputation as a natural choice for sustainable fabric and clothing, cotton is highly contaminated. Yes, you read that right! Cotton is NOT the product it is marketed to be.

A report by The Environmental Justice Foundation reveals the routine use of harmful chemicals, including nerve agents and neurotoxins, on cotton crops. And, according to the Organic Trade Association, as reported in an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health.”

He also reports, “Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous. Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”

It’s Not Just the Crops

However, the problems with toxins in the cotton industry are not limited to just the cultivation of the crop.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) explains, “As an aid in harvesting, herbicides are used to defoliate the plants, making picking easier. More chemicals [are used] in the process of bleaching. Stain and odor resistance, fireproofing, and static- and wrinkle-reduction. Some of the softeners and detergents leave a residue that will not totally be removed from the final product. Chemicals often used for finishing include formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.”

Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what we put on our bodies. It makes sense that we would want to avoid this kind of toxic exposure for ourselves and our children. So, what can we do?

Sustainable Fabric

Organic Cotton is a Sustainable Fabric and Safer Alternative

According to the Organic Trade Commission, “Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

It’s true that clothing made from organic cotton will most likely cost you more. The cultivation of sustainable crops require investments and methods outside of  conventional industry practices.  This means greater costs and lower margins for the producers. Organic cotton farmers are using sustainable practices in their efforts to protect the environment and avoid chemical use. They are also maintaining soil fertility, preserving biodiversity and conserving water.

Always Choose Organic Cotton for Babies and Children

Consumers seeking more sustainable options might take these factors into consideration when making purchasing decisions. Some think it’s worth the extra cost to avoid the health and environmental problems that come with conventionally grown cotton. But, you might be limited in your ability to afford sustainable products in all of your clothing purchases.  If this is the case, please consider organic cotton over conventional for your babies and young children. Because of their developing brains and organs, they are more susceptible than adults to the harm of these toxins.

We’re committed to guiding you in your sustainable lifestyle journey. Click HERE to get free information, resources and updates from Lady Farmer.

Sustainable Fabrics

Sustainable Shopping with Lady Farmer

Slow Living: Sowing the Seeds

What is slow living?

slow living

You might be hearing this term more and more lately, along with slow food and slow fashion.  So what’s with this slow movement? What does it mean, and do we need it? If so, why?

At Lady Farmer, our understanding of slow living comes from making conscious choices about how we live our lives. It’s about paying attention to how we spend our time, money and resources. And, in doing so we take a step back from the industrialized systems that provide our daily needs. In observing  our own consumer habits we can evaluate our own quality of life.

Slow living

Front Porch Days

It’s not difficult to recognize  how quickly our society has left slow living behind.  Some of us only have to look back a generation or two  to recall a different era. We hear about a time when people whiled away the hours sitting on the front porch. Yet it wasn’t that they had less to do. People  weren’t dependent on factory farms thousands of miles away for their food. Nor did they require chain stores for cheap clothing made overseas by impoverished workers. It has been less than a century since many Americans fed and clothed themselves for the most part.

Fast forward to now, when practically every single thing we use is bought from a store. Most of these things are used up or broken in a relatively short period of time. Then they are tossed into the land of “trash,” that place society assumes is the endpoint of our concern.

In the Name of Sustenance

Our food supply, too, has long left the realm of self-production.  It now has much more connection to a factory or a lab than the land. Food today has been sprayed, machinated, wrapped, frozen, fortified, processed, sealed, flown around the globe, clam-shelled and shelved. Then we come along and happily pull these things from the supermarket aisles in the name of sustenance.

As for clothing, almost everything available today has been produced at a terrible cost to the environment. In addition, millions of  overworked and underpaid laborers work in deplorable conditions to fuel the toxic apparel industry. This broken system perpetuates our manic, throw- away habits while barely making a dent in our pocketbooks.

The Slow Living Choice

Slow living might have a different feel or  pace, but it is not the same as leisure. The slow living  choice to feed and clothe ourselves closer to the source might not take less time, work or money. In some instances it might take more. Those that have made the conscious decision to eat more locally know this. It takes effort and organization to seek out local sources and very often requires us to pay more. Growing your own is a wonderful option but there is a great deal of effort and energy involved. Yet, this is the choice we make over driving to the megamarket and buying packaged and processed food.

slow living

Likewise, sustainably sourced and produced clothing certainly will cost more in terms of dollars and cents. Yet this is the choice for the land, our water, our fellow humans and our own health.  Many people aren’t able to buy clothes made from responsible sources and well paid workers. The prevailing fast fashion system has squeezed the life out of this model. The availability of ethically produced apparel is extremely limited, putting the many consumers in a position with little choice. We encourage slow living practices such as buying less, buying thrift and participating in clothing swaps. It’s a great way to have fun and encourage others to dress sustainably.

The Hand that Feeds Us

Our goal in exploring the idea of slow living is to identify where we have become separated from “the hand that feeds us,” so to speak. In embracing slow living,  we want to see ourselves apart from mass production and consumption.  Our desire is to hear our own voice inside the noisy torrent of information, and seek out the things we truly value. In that space is where we reclaim our allotted time on the planet and create our truly authentic lives.

slow living

To help you in your own exploration of slow living, we provide information, resources, videos, courses and products. We also have our own, in house designed, responsibly and locally manufactured apparel line. We hope you’ll use these only in ways that seem helpful to you, remembering that you alone are the one true expert on your own life. So come join us in whatever way feels right.

It’s good to be waking up.

Mary Kingsley

Sustainable Lifestyle: The Lady Farmer Way

Sustainable Lifestyle: The Lady Farmer Way

What is sustainable living?

We most often think of sustainability  in terms of protecting rather than depleting our natural resources.  Reducing  our trash and avoiding plastic are positive steps towards living a more sustainable life. Eating local foods, driving less and choosing responsibly sourced clothing and household products are key as well.

Yet sustainable living is also about reducing the stresses and demands that deplete your energy and vitality.  It requires balance in your personal resources, your personal time, energy, creativity and passion.  Having respect for your spaces, your home and work environments are all part of it as well. It’s about creating the systems that work for you in living the life you want.Sustainable

 

Sustainable Simplicity

We live in a consumer economy, so that we generally have to buy everything we use. Yet as a culture, we have taken this behavior far beyond our basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.  Much of our time and space are taken up doing and acquiring things that are beyond our needs. Consequently, we feel we never have enough time in the day and our surroundings are cluttered and chaotic.

Sustainable simplicity means having everything you need for your safety, comfort and well being without all the excess. When we’re willing  to pay attention, we can make choices that enhance rather than deplete our quality of life. Local food, responsibly sourced clothing and carefully chosen home and lifestyle products can shift our lives towards sustainable simplicity.  When we’re willing to honestly observe our own consumer decisions, we can see where change is necessary. Sustainable living has to do with making conscious choices every day.

sustainable

A Sustainable Earth Home

As for this earth we all share, sustainable living means waking up to the impact of our human behavior.  

A healthy, balanced life necessarily includes some degree of cleanliness, order and respect for where we live. Most of us don’t dump nasty things in our living room or poison our own wells. Nor do we  burn things that create bad air in the house, drop trash wherever or destroy things that happen to be in our way.

Yet that’s exactly the way humans have behaved on the planet.

A Way of Life

Sustainable living was once a way of life for our ancestors. It was the way of survival.  Yet somewhere along the line, we began to think, act and live as if we are separate from nature.  As the dominant species, we have behaved as if it all exists for our own use and benefit, that resources were there to be used up for our immediate gratification and that it doesn’t matter what mess we leave behind.

I like to take a hopeful view of this. Perhaps humanity is moving closer to a tipping point when our unconscious behavior is no longer the norm. We’ve all seen pictures of the plastic waste island the size of Texas.  Or, heard the news that Cape Town is out of water. And, we’ve all had friends or family taken way too soon from some cancer that was once rare, but has increased exponentially.

Real Food Doesn’t Come from a Box

Maybe more of us are teaching our children that real food doesn’t come from a box and that single use plastic is not a sustainable option.  Maybe we’re all learning to get our hands in the dirt more and sometimes walk barefoot, look at the sky instead of our phones, consider what we put in and on our bodies actually does make a difference.

We created Lady Farmer to demonstrate, educate and inspire you in your personal expression of sustainable simplicity. We also offer sustainable choices in clothing and lifestyle products. Please visit our website for a wealth of resources and information, and our online shop for  sustainable shopping! While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter so you can stay updated on all of our latest news and offerings, including the print edition of our soon- to -be- released book,  The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living; Creating Sustainable Simplicity Close to Home.