By Marci Zaroff
It’s time for renewal, for rebirth. Life is busy, yet the planet is calling for help. Our future is at stake. As the Native Americans lived and wrote: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” With food and fiber as humankind’s two basic necessities, why is an industry as destructive as textiles often overlooked? As organic food penetrated the mainstream, consumer awareness has been shifting. A new kind of lifestyle is being embraced, one which involves a sense of connection and a responsibility to oneself and to the future.
With this extension of yoga-mindfulness, the “whole” picture needed to be taken into account for a truly balanced state of being. In organic agriculture, food and fiber crops are interconnected. Sixty percent of a cotton plant actually goes back into the food stream in the form of seed and oil. Cottonseed grown from conventional cotton is rampant with toxic chemicals and pesticides; organic cotton cultivation, on the other hand, provides the feed necessary for organic dairy products and the oil for organic breads.
Conventional cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world and a leading cause of air and water pollution. There can be up to a third of a pound of toxic pesticides used to produce the cotton in just one T-shirt and over two pounds in one bedsheet.
Apparel and home products touch our skin twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. What we put on our body impacts our health, just as what we put in our body. Chemical pesticides cannot be washed off in a washing machine to make a product organic, just as a conventional strawberry cannot be washed and be made organic.
Growing free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, organic cotton is healthier for farmers to grow. Because farmers get a premium on the cotton and don’t need to buy pesticides, they can actually build a sustainable livelihood. Additionally, when the cotton is also certified as fair trade, farmers get an added premium to invest in their communities for development, education, and improved farming methods.
Organic farming methods also offset climate change with a lower carbon footprint: reduced emissions of greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and methane as well as reduced consumption of fossil fuels.
It is proven that consumers will not buy and support organic cotton and other fibers if the product does not sell on its own merits. Organic clothing and home fashions must, first and foremost, be high-quality, be styled right, fit well, and be affordable and accessible.
Industries, businesses, and products cannot take planetary wellness for granted. We all live under the canopy of the planet’s ecosystem. It is time to take yoga off the mat and into every lifestyle decision. As we connect the dots from food to fiber, we are energetically not just what we eat but also what we wear.
Marci Zaroff is an internationally recognized eco-lifestyle entrepreneur, educator, andexpert. Founder of Under the Canopy and Metawear and cofounder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I Am Enlightened Creations, Marci has been instrumental in driving authenticity, environmental leadership, and social justice worldwide for over two decades.