Loomstate On Organic Cotton and Sustainability

Converging Top Quality Fashion with Ecological and Social Integrity

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In this guest article for Urban Times, Rhett Godfrey, the sustainability coordinator at Loomstate, discusses how, through his passion for environmental science and development, he decided to work within the fashion industry and focus on making sustainability stylish. Loomstate have donated 3 gorgeous items from their Loomstate 321 collection for our Bid for Better event on the 13th December.
When Loomstate approached me to become their Sustainability Coordinator, I have to admit, I was far from interested in fashion. As someone with a passion for environmental science and development, I initially felt that apparel fell outside my core values. This was before I began doing research on sustainable apparel and on organic cotton at the behest of Loomstate’s founder Scott Mackinlay-Hahn.

Organic cotton seeds (left) and conventional cotton seeds (right) which are covered in insecticides are coloured blue so they are not mistaken for organic seeds (Image: Vivienne So)
Few people know that conventional cotton uses more insecticide per acre than any other industrial agricultural crop on the planet.
The information I found was staggering. Few people know, for example, that conventional cotton uses more insecticide per acre than any other industrial agricultural crop on the planet. This conventional cotton growth not only has devastating effects on local biodiversity, water quality, and soil health, but occasionally leads to tragic results for farmers and communities. In some developing countries like Ghana, where workers cannot afford the required protective equipment needed for spraying agricultural chemicals, the average cotton worker loses 20 days of work per year due to the effects of acute pesticide poisoning. The more research I did, the more I recognized that my passions for sustainable development and environmental science had a whole lot more to do with fashion than I had initially thought.
This began my fascination with Loomstate’s mission to converge top quality fashion with an unwavering sense of ecological and social integrity. Our 100% organic cotton collections use fibre grown with natural pest controls like trap crops and organic replants, such as neem and chrysanthemum oil. Together with natural fertilization techniques like crop rotation and organic composts and manures, our cotton reaches the height of health and quality, both for our fibre and our natural environment; it’s a win-win proposition by any measure.

Loomstate Spring Summer 2013 SRF+CTY organic cotton collection for men (Image: Alastair Casey)
Despite the fact that organic cotton produces about half the cotton that conventional methods do, the premium on organic cotton, combined with the cost savings of reduced clinic visits and eliminated chemical input purchases, mean that farmers are able to take home more money per acre by growing organically. Getting more money for doing the right thing for the environment is sustainability at its best.

Tencel dress from the Loomstate 321 Resort 2013 collection (Image: Danielle Levitt)
Since 2004, Loomstate has used over 700,000 lbs of organic cotton. That’s enough cotton to grow a four foot wide organic cotton farm from New York City to Los Angeles. 70,000 lbs of synthetic chemicals have been kept from the land and because no fertilizer, which is very energy intensive to make, had to be produced to feed our soils, we have saved over 542 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. These are big benefits and this is just the beginning.
With new collections like Loomstate 321, we’re stretching out into innovative sustainable fibressuch as Tencel, which comes from managed beech and pine wood tree farms and is made using non-toxic solvents in a nearly 100% closed loop system. Each day, we are discovering great new fibres, while continuing to grow our organic cotton production with partners who share our vision.
Like I said before, when I was first approached by Loomstate I was concerned about what effect I could have on the world working in apparel. Now I am quite certain that my passion for people and the environment can be put to good use at Loomstate. I’m proud to be part of a company leading the call tomake sustainability fashionable.

Read the article at UrbanTimes.co.

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