What Are You Wearing? Part One: Cotton

By Kat Holleran

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Photo by Kat Holleran

Let’s talk about ~sustainability.~

Any college student who looks in the mirror before they go to class knows the value of white t-shirts. They pair well with everything and look effortlessly cool—giving off a very model-off-duty vibe. Have you ever thought about what goes into this beloved style? Not just the labor of cutting or sewing, or even the designers creating the concepts, but what t-shirts are physically made of? If you have, yippee! If you haven’t, fear not. I am here to let you know.

Many t-shirts are made of cotton! Cotton is a plant that is grown worldwide, but the US is one of its biggest producers. Sometimes cotton is grown organically by local or small farmers, but more often than not it is being mass produced in giant farms with the use of pesticides and genetic modification to create more yield from the crops. But what impact does that have on the environment? Well, pesticides are harmful chemicals that are dangerous to the people working on the farms and living in the surrounding areas. These toxic chemicals can also make their way into water sources and emit greenhouse gasses into the air, thus polluting the things we rely on to survive!

Growing cotton also uses many resources. There are more obvious ones, such as land and water. There are also the ones we might not think about, such as the fossil-fuels necessary to power the machines that harvest the cotton, as well as the cars, ships, and planes that send it to manufacturing plants where it is broken down and woven into fabric.

What can you do with all this newfound knowledge? I’m so glad that you asked! For starters, here are a few places you can get t-shirts and other basics that only use organic cotton:

Brook There is Portland-based and sells cute and comfy organic cotton bras and underwear.

Loomstate is based in New York has great basics made from 100% organic cotton.

Study NY is an upscale Brooklyn brand that features unique styles made from organic cotton, as well as other organic fabrics (such as wool and silk, which we will talk more about later).

These are just three of the many organic and sustainable clothing brands out there that can help you be a more conscious consumer. But don’t worry, there are more tips to come on how you can show both the earth and your wardrobe some love. Tune in next week, when we’ll be discussing the petroleum so many companies want us to wear, more commonly known as /polyester/. Until then!

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