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Sara Jane, Emily and Chris Hastings's Group

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 11 months ago








ClAIM: Outline:Save the World in Style**"

    • The uses of alternative organic fabrics are both beneficial for the environment and have the potential to benefit the economy. Because fashion follows society trends, it may even influence large communities into being more ecologically informed.


We as a group plan to elaborate on alternative means of producing clothing for the benefit of the environment.




  1. Intro concerning how alternative organic fabrics for clothing are more ecologically friendly and cost-efficient.
  2. Facts concerning alternative means of fibers (hemp, bamboo, soy) (quotes)
    1. How to use bamboo as fabric (qualities)
    2. Use of hemp as fabric, alternatives to what conventional fabric
    3. Soy replaces silk
  3. Benefits of using certain fabrics (quotes)
    1. Bamboo grows faster (finances)
    2. Soy grows everywhere
    3. Hemp rapidly renewable resource
  4. Effect on no longer using cotton as a means of pollution.
  5. Silk is bad
  6. Why corporations wont change. Possible effect on corporations after trend.


“Actions are the seed of fate deeds grow into destiny.” - Harry S. Truman


Clothing manufacturing is a process rarely related to the sustainable trend of society, even though it is a business that cannot be done without. Fashion does not only concern itself with what looks hip, what celebrities wear, or even how aesthetically pleasing it is to see certain colors at a preferable distance from each other. Clothing materials are often overlooked as a means of expressing oneself. Certain materials, considered unconventional, affect the entire world in a variety of ecological and financial ways. In laments terms materials such as cotton, silk, and wool are not the only usable fibers. If consumers demand alternatives to environmentally damaging materials, corporations will change -- not out of sheer sympathy for the environment, but rather out of business tactics.


Earth Pledge is a non-profit organization working with communities, businesses, and government to increase the use of sustainable practices. According to EarthPledge, " At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two thirds of a garment's carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased." The carbon footprint is determined by measuring the amount of greenhouses gases in the air to see how much of a negative impact humans have made on the environment.


The materials used have a major effect on the amount of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere. There are two types of fibers that are naturally found in the environment: animal and plant fiber. Some examples of plant fiber, or cellulose, are cotton, hemp, soy, banana, and pineapple. Wool, silk, and cashmere are considered animal fibers. Although cotton is already widely used on this earth, if it is conventionally grown, it uses 25% of the world's insecticides and 10% of our pesticides. Bamboo, wood pulp, seaweed, corn, and soy are all efficient materials from which clothes are made. All of these natural fibers are anti-bacterial, breathable and biodegradable.


Cotton takes up so much water that is causes deforestation. It can take more than 2000 liters of water to make 1kg of cotton; this is equal to one t-shirt and one pair of jeans. Even though it takes so much water to produce cotton, much of it is lost along the way. Cotton grows in many areas where it should not due to improper irrigation. Traditional irrigation is only 40% effective, meaning that 60% of water transfered along small canals is lost due to evaporation and seepage. During the current water crisis, corporations cannot be so careless as they are with the production of cotton.


"Bamboo has great environmental qualities, because it grows with few pesticides and little water, is naturally regenerative and can grow up to one foot per day. Bamboo has a much lighter environmental impact than pesticide-laden conventional cotton and petroleum-derived nylon and polyester synthetics. Manufacturing synthetic fibers can release lung-damaging pollutants such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, particulates, carbon monoxide and heavy metals into the air, as well as climate-warming carbon dioxide. Conventional cotton requires a tremendous amount of water; in fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund, some estimates indicate that it consumes more water than any other agricultural commodity. Furthermore, nitrogen-heavy fertilizer runoff feeds oceanic "dead zones" that deprive water of oxygen and kill fish and other aquatic species; runoff from U.S. cotton farms is currently helping to feed a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey. From a health standpoint, seven of the top 15 pesticides used on U.S. cotton crops are deemed by the EPA to be potential or known human carcinogens"

(National Geographic)


Bamboo is one of the most efficient plant fibers available for use. Not only does bamboo grow faster than all other possible plant fibers, but it can be grown in virtually any soil, granted that it is not already destroyed by improper irrigation. Bamboo is also thermodynamic and can provide protection against the sun's harmful UV rays. The ideal landscape for bamboo farming is flat land that has already undergone drainage. This is a perfect replacement for land that is already being used to produce cotton. The only disadvantage is towards the corporations. The transition at first will be expensive, and may seem as a burden to the farmers, but the payoff in the end will be enormous and well worth the effort. If corporations can look past the monetary incentives towards continuing their financial exploits, then maybe this trend can begin. People are starting to use organic materials that will benefit the world today. Some people are using bamboo diapers, which can be absorbed back into the environment once it is used. Using organic materials such as bamboo for diapers helps get rid of health concerns: diaper rash, decreased circulation and sores resulting from too much waste in too little space. Bamboo diapers are much softer than the regular diapers and bamboo diapers are washable, thus making it reusable a few times before throwing it away. Reusing the bamboo diapers means cutting costs in diaper purchases and is great for the world into which your child is born.


Over the past 8,000 years, many cultures, most predominately Native Americans, have used hemp for a variety of customs. It can be used for food, healing, toiletries, and clothing without ever harming the environment. Many people are oblivious to the benefits of hemp. People assume that hemp is just a harmful drug, as it is often described as the industrial version of marijuana, but it also helps make products more sustainable and eco-friendly. It is hard for people do to the right thing when the US government has made it illegal to grow hemp. Some major environmental benefits for growing hemp include fast and robust growth, a lack of herbicides or pesticides required, weed suppression, soil structure enhancement, oxygen production, and a reduction of pollution. Hemp can improve our environment and our health. If we switch to using hemp paper today we can help reduce deforestation. Clothing and textiles made from hemp contain no harmful chemicals that would affect our health. The sun’s harmful UV rays are also blocked when using hemp fabric.


Fashion designers are incorporating this earth-saving concept into real fashion, not the "dusty, hippy-looking clothes" that usually are associated with organic materials. And as this movement rapidly takes hold of our society, it is becoming easier to find stores that have a wide selection of fashionable earth-friendly clothes, accessories, and furniture. Some corporations such as Wal-Mart and Target have gone green to reduce costs on packaging and production. Wal-Mart packs its produce in plastic made from corn sugar instead of petroleum to reduce energy costs, decrease pollutants, and help to extradite dependence on fossil-fuels. But much like every other organic product, the goods are much more expensive. Celebrities such as Bono, Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, and Salma Hayek have adopted the use of sustainable fashion. Bono has even teamed with his wife, Ali Hewson, and designer Rogan to create a clothing line called "Edun", which is nude backwards. Also a play on the Garden of Eden, the name “Edun” is meant to “imply innocence, sensuality, and a return to nature”(msnbc). The clothes retail from $45- $300 and are sold at Saks Fifth Avenues all across the country. Not only are the clothes environmental-friendly, they also have some interesting little details. Some shirts are colored with traditional Incan vegetable dyes and jeans have a poem written inside the pocket.

I think you should always have a poem in your pocket,” said Bono.

In the newest season of the ever-popular show, Project Runway, one of the contestants named Leanne Marshall is creating her own eco-friendly fashion line called Leanimal, while Sheryl Crow opens a "green" fashion line focusing on the production of jeans.


Unfortunately the main reason now for corporations to “go green” is for public relations. Consider BP for instance, who launched a $200 million dollar ad campaign concerning their efforts to “go green.” What the ads do not tell the public is that they have only invested a fraction of their total gargantuan profits towards supporting non fossil-fuels. What BP does not tell the public is that they happened to cause the worst oil spill in Alaska. If BP used the same funds that were used towards destroying Alaska as it claimed it would towards working for more efficient and ecologically sustainable methods of production, society would be one step closer towards a national environmental movement. If corporations can look past the media, they can make a real difference in the environment.


Whether the corporations run the oil business or the clothing industry, they utilize the same strategy - to surpass the appeals of competitors while satisfying the consumers. With this strategy implemented, common sense dictates that as one company becomes successful from the use of organic fibers, the rest will adopt the same tactic. Unfortunately the majority of society has not adopted sustainability as a major idea towards the ecological improvement of our society. As soon as we the people see that change is good, the corporations can follow.


The largest of fires can be started by the smallest of sparks. The greatest changes to society have started on a small scale. The Civil Rights Revolution of the 50's began with the smallest acts of civil disobedience. If small to large corporations begin to adapt to the grassroot ecological movement brought upon by the people, the entire world will change towards sustainability. Currently there are a number of clothing brands changing their clothing production, by a small percentage, to alternative fibers. It is with public opinion and appeal that the numbers can increase. Thusly it is up to the consumer to bring upon the change.


However many argue that this is just another trend, and as soon as sustainable clothing lose their appeal people will discard them, defeating the purpose of sustainability. Like every other trend, this one faces reaching its peak before another chic idea is introduced, and people may forget their aspirations to save the world. But for those who are willing to see where this new level of sustainability may take us, let us not make this just a phase.



Hemp and Bamboo Clothing

New York Times Article



Student Comments on Final Project Idea


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