In fact, more than 10 percent of the world’s insecticides and 25 percent of pesticides are used in cotton production, according to Green America. While a washing method may remove some pesticides from clothing, many more chemicals are added during processing. Further, pesticides sprayed on cotton plants can harm farm workers who inhale them and the Earth by leeching into the soil and groundwater, according to author Debra Lynn Dadd. Further, the highly toxic pesticide aldicarb is still commonly used on cotton fields in 25 countries including the U.S., according to the Organic Trade Association.
The news isn’t any better when it comes to clothing materials other than cotton. Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon contain petrochemicals that create nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Rayon, made from wood pulp, is treated with toxic chemicals such as sulfuric acid, considered a potential skin, organ and muscular-skeletal toxicant by the National Institutes of Health. Further, many conventional fabrics are coated with toxins to make them resistant to stains, fire and wrinkles.
Eco-friendly fabrics, including organic cotton, soy, hemp and those that have been certified as chemical-free, will help protect you, your children and the planet, not to mention farm and factory workers who produce the materials.
You can avoid exposing your children to all of these chemicals by purchasing sustainably made clothing from the companies mentioned below. You can also find a variety of organic and nontoxic kids clothing on digital storefronts including Green Baby Bargains, Green Pages and Ecoplum. Keep in mind that chemical finishes generally fade after washing clothes several times, so be sure to wash new conventionally-made clothes before wearing them.
The Swedish clothing company Hanna Anderson makes a nice selection of organic clothes for children with designs similar to those found at larger, mainstream retailers. You’ll find an array of patterns and styles of pajamas and underwear for kids, including Disney PJs with a pattern from the hit film “Frozen” for girls and Star Wars PJs for boys. Children’s sizes run from 10 months to age 12, so you can keep coming back for more. The selection for babies is even better—on the company’s web site, you’ll find onesies, bibs, diaper covers and baby blankets all made with organic cotton.
Patagonia has been manufacturing eco-friendly outerwear for decades. They have been committed to using only organic cotton since 1996. They’ve expanded their product line to include T-shirts, dresses, bathing suits and swimwear. Their products are made with 100 percent organic cotton, and their collections include items made of recycled polyester,traceable down taken from humanely-treated birds, fair trade certified fabrics and blue design-approved fabrics, which are manufactured using best practices in energy and water efficiency, water and air emissions. Their blue design sun protection tees and hoodies for kids are a great choice for summer wear to protect children from sunburns.
This New-Zealand company designs original clothing items for adults and children using all organic cotton, natural clothing dyes and pure wool sourced locally. Available for purchase on their website are T-shirts, tanks, bottoms, body suits, hats, hoodies and more with neutral tones for babies and children. With locations internationally, including the U.S., China and Europe, Nui Organics products have garnered attention from retailers throughout the world who are supporting their goal of making the clothing industry more environmentally-friendly.