Holistic Approach to Garment Manufacturing

“Gap’s latest advertising campaign declares that we should ‘Be Bright,’ but by collaborating with toxic suppliers Gap’s clothes are turning the Citarum into a multicoloured mess,” says Ashov Birry, a toxic-free water campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement. “Gap and other big brands need to work with their suppliers in Indonesia and elsewhere to urgently eliminate all uses of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products before it is too late.”

This quote came from an article on ecouterre.com, and the article goes on to explain and show the water pollution in Indonesia being caused by big garment manufacturers.

This article reminded me why I am so passionate about fair trade manufacturing, organic fibers, low impact dyes, unbleached fiber, and conscious manufacturing of clothing and garments. It is easy to shop at Old Navy, especially when they have t-shirts for $2.00 and sandals for $4.00. I bought a pair of jeans there for 78 cents!

Why do I have my fabric printed at Spoonflower? Because they print on 100% organic cotton interlock, with this process:

Digital textile printers are large-format inkjet printers specially modified to run fabric. Unlike conventional textile manufacturing, digital printing entails very little waste of fabric, ink, water or electricity. Spoonflower prints using eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks on natural fiber textiles. No additional chemicals are used in the printing or preparation process.

While these prints do fade more than traditionally printed fabrics, the trade off is that we aren’t leaving a footprint of chemicals behind us with the production or washing. The printing is done in North Carolina.

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I buy organic, unbleached cotton birdseye fabric that is manufactured in a fair trade factory in Pakistan. It is produced under the GOTS certification standard.

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I use recycled wool and OEKA-TEX or certified organic merino wool interlock. I dye with low impact acid dyes in small batches, minimizing water waste and dye run off. Wool requires less water and soap and energy to wash and dry than plastics (PUL) covers.

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I use organic bamboo velour and organic hemp fleece, opting for unbleached fabric from plants that require little chemicals and water to grow and are sustainable.

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I do love printed fabric and choose to buy designer end rolls. This fabric is excess from larger garment manufacturers that have extra fabric after producing their entire line.

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I think it’s possible to take small steps towards a more holistic approach to garment manufacturing. We need to remember all of the resources and people along the way: the land that grows the plants; the sun, the water, the pesticides and herbicides and insecticides and fertilizers; the people that turn the fibers into fabric; the dyes and bleaches and chemicals used to make the fabric ready for garment production; and the people turning the finished fabric into garments.

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