wife came home not too long ago with a great Honest Weight T-shirt. Oh, yes, I thought. It’s
finally T-shirt weather! Then I paused and
read the label. It was made from
non-organic cotton and
produced in a Third World country, where environmental and labor laws
virtually nonexistent. The Co-op cannot
unpurchase the shirts, I thought – so the best I can do is learn more
these things, and try to help do something about them in the future.
the United States, more than one billion T-shirts are made each year. Most are made from cotton.
A full pound of chemicals is used for
five pounds of cotton that is grown.
More than 25% of the pesticides used in
the U.S. are used on cotton, and
more than 10% of the pesticides used worldwide are used on cotton. With 37 billion pounds of cotton grown each
year, that is one heck of a lot of poison.
Cotton also demands a great deal of
water – so much so that, in the
Soviet Union, the Aral Sea shrank by half its original size due to
6 ½ million acres, or one-half of the U.S cotton crop, is grown
bio-engineered cotton made by companies such as Monsanto.
The seeds for these crops have had their
genetic make-up altered. These plants
demand even more pesticides, more chemical fertilizer and more water
cotton plants – but they also make a fortune for Monsanto.
T-shirts are made from polyester and nylon, materials created from
petroleum. Oil, gas, water, solvents,
acids, and mineral oils are used in their production, then dumped into
environment. Environmentally speaking,
they are not a useful alternative to cotton.
white usually doesn’t make it for T-shirts these days – so dyes made
metals like chrome, copper, zinc, and nickel, and some carcinogens, are
used. Natural dyes often have heavy
metals added to keep them from fading.
The words and pictures on our shirts are
usually made from polyvinyl
chloride (PVC), which in its production and disposal releases dioxin, a
carcinogen and hormone disrupter.
by-products are likely to be in your food if you eat commercial snacks
potato and corn chips, and other things with cottonseed oil in them. The oil is extracted by using a variety of
chemicals. The residue of the chemicals
and the pesticides is a real concern – but cottonseed oil is rarely
them. However, when the U.S. Department
of Agriculture tested the nation’s milk supply, it found DEF, diocofol,
arsenic, and paraquat in it – all of which are regularly used on
are highly toxic. This occurs because
cow feed is often made from the left-over waste from cotton plants.
don’t just have to sweat about all these problems – there are actions
take. If you are a dairy or meat eater,
stick with the organic milk products you find at Honest Weight. We don’t keep organic meat on our shelves,
but you can special-order it. If it’s
your first time, just ask a manager for help.
You can also purchase organic T-shirts
and other organic clothes. The Co-op has a
wonderful selection of
organic socks, and maybe one day we will have enough room for a large
of organic clothing.
organic is often more expensive, buying used clothes is an alternative,
your purchase will not support any new, chemical-laden production. Clothing exchanges work, too – a small group
of Co-op’ers had a potluck meal, and used the occasion to empty their
of clothing that wasn’t getting used – and swapped with one another. Afterwards, my wife showed me a great pair
of pants she’d gotten. The pants turned
out to be the ones that I had contributed to the swap.
out these other sources for products, such as organic clothing, towels,
mattresses, sheets, and pillow cases:
Catalog, (800) 869-3446, or www.gaiam.com
Goods, (800) 762-7325
Cotton Alternatives, (888) 645-4452, or www.organiccottonalts.com
and Others has a Consumers Guide to Organic Cotton.
Call 9888) ECO-INFO, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
$15, you can get a complete directory of organic cotton growers,
retailers. Call (415) 981-6205, or
e-mail to email@example.com
Green Pages from Co-op America has a whole section of organic
well as hundreds of other alternative shopping choices: (800) 58-GREEN,
the meantime, it’s okay to wear the non-organic Co-op T-shirt. The faster they sell, the better our chances
of having the next ones made organically.