Organic and Recycled Clothing
Organic and recycled fibers are catching on in mainstream retail, although it's not always easy to do a thorough diligence on whether a material is truly organic or recycled. Still, it's a start.
It's still difficult, however, to figure out who actually offers these products. So to help you walk the talk, here's a list of retailers who offer clothing made from organic cotton, scrap fabric, or recycled synthetic fibers.
Feel free to add additional sustainability details if you've done some further research on a brand.
This is probably the hardest to find: formal and business wear that is made from sustainable resources or socially responsible manufacturing. Most organic clothing are goofy yoga pants and poofy loose-fit shirts, but it's hard to find nice-looking suits and shirts.
One could say, however, that high-end couture is already somewhat sustainable. The classic men's and women's suit is made from wool, undoubtedly a renewable resource (although one begs for a detailed sheep-versus-cotton water footprint analysis). Silk, which give us fine neckties, blouses, and other niceties, is a tougher call. One assumes that silkworms will probably require a somewhat chemical-free diet, but mulberry tree farms can range from integrated, efficient operations to conventional, chemical-intensive monocultures.
But we digress. For the poor grad student, here are some retailers to consider when putting together that holiday wish-list...
- Boll Organics offers men's dress shirts -- button-down and spread collar -- made from organic cotton. Their sizing is limited, however. (I've emailed the owner before, and he is interested in marketing opportunities with Nicholas Students. If anyone is interested in organizing a bulk order, you may be able to earn yourself some discounts. B.L.)
Organic cotton products are ever-increasing. However, due to limited suppliers, they do rack up some mileage compared to conventionally farmed cotton fibers. Anyone know a good LCA/CBA on the current state of the organic cotton market?
Some companies are hawking clothes made from "scrap fabric" -- leftovers from the production process that would otherwise be thrown away. Not sure this is exactly a green innovation (smacks of additionality...), but it's something.
Recycled Fleece and Synthetics
These are fabrics made from used synthetics and fleeces returned and remade into new products.
Recycled Plastic Fibers
These are fabrics created from recycled plastic bottles.
Jackets and Fleeces