For most of history, people have made clothing out of natural fibers such as wool, silk, linen and cotton. Fabrics made from these materials are usually breathable and durable, and good at wicking moisture away from your skin.
But in the 1800’s, chemists became interested in finding ways to make synthetic fabrics, hoping to improve upon natural fabrics.
After inventing an artificial silk and then rayon, both made from wood pulp, scientists hit a milestone in 1935 with the invention of nylon.
Made entirely from petroleum, nylon quickly became popular for stockings because it was much less expensive than the silk stockings women wore at the time.
What’s interesting is that right about the time nylon was invented, synthetic pesticides were also invented. And those pesticides were applied in heavy amounts to grow one of the most popular natural fabric fibers – cotton.
Right now, there’s a good chance you’re wearing at least one clothing item made from conventionally-grown cotton.
And last night, you likely slept on cotton or cotton blend sheets, and after this morning’s shower, dried yourself off with a cotton towel.
If so, you likely exposed yourself to those potentially dangerous pesticides, along with harsh dyes and other toxic chemicals.
As people learn about how synthetic fabrics and conventional cotton exposes them to chemicals, they are turning back to natural fabrics. And as cotton agriculture slowly returns to organic, more and more people are choosing to wear health- and earth-friendly organic cotton clothing.
Here’s how you can get in on this movement with attractive clothing that you can feel good about wearing – and afford.
6 Dirty Facts About How Your Clothes Are Produced
Many people have never paused to think about where the clothes they wear come from. They don’t know how those clothes are made or where the materials come from or what products are used to process them.
What you wear against your skin almost 24 hours a day matters because your skin absorbs things it comes in contact with. The fibers and processing chemicals in your clothes can have an effect on your health and on the environment.
There are at least six reasons to consider what’s hanging in your closet right now:
Non-organic cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop.
Even though cotton is grown on just 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, conventional cotton production uses up to 25% of the world’s chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
Producing just one T-shirt takes about a third of a pound of these chemicals.
Nearly $40 billion is spent on the pesticides sprayed on crops worldwide. Half of those are classified as “hazardous,” with five of the most commonly used pesticides considered probable carcinogens.
Just a single drop of the commonly used insecticide aldicarb, absorbed through the skin, is enough to kill a man. Yet it is still used in 25 countries, including the U.S. This presents a danger to the health of farmers, neighbors, cotton pickers, fiber and garment makers, and you, the end user.
Nearly all conventionally grown cotton is genetically modified (GMO).
Organic cotton only accounts for 1% of global cotton production. Today, about 94% of cotton is genetically modified (GMO). The GMO plant “Bt cotton,” which was introduced in 2002, produces its own internal pesticide. But strangely, it also requires 13 times more pesticides than other types of cotton.
The non-organic cotton industry is the highest user of the herbicide glyphosate, a “probable” human carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The accumulation of glyphosate through your food and your skin can profoundly affect your mitochondria and put you on the path to conditions linked to dysfunctional mitochondria, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, cancer and high blood pressure.
Some synthetic clothes are made with carcinogenic ingredients and large amounts of petroleum in a process that consumes large amounts of energy.
Synthetic fabrics are produced from man-made chemicals instead of natural fibers, like cotton, silk and wool. Polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum in an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil.
The process releases emissions that include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, which can all adversely affect your respiratory health.
Acrylic may be even worse. The key ingredient of acrylic fiber is acrylonitrile, a suspected brain, lung and bowel carcinogen, and mutagen that targets the central nervous system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acrylonitrile enters your body through your skin and lungs.
The toxic chemicals used to manufacture clothes don’t always wash out, even after repeated laundering.
Many people are surprised to learn that the chemicals used to produce clothing don’t always wash out, even after several washings. These chemicals include ones designed for bleaching, sizing, dying, straightening, reducing shrinkage, resisting stains and odors, fireproofing, mothproofing, and reducing wrinkles and static.
These chemicals are often applied to the fabric with heat and bonded to the fiber. Plus, some imported clothes are now impregnated with long-lasting disinfectants that are very hard to remove.
One such imbedded chemical is formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound (VOC) and “probable” carcinogen, according to the EPA and National Cancer Institute.
In sufficient amounts, formaldehyde vapors can cause rashes, headaches, burning eyes and nose, breathing difficulties, coughing, sore throat, joint pains, nausea, fatigue and restless sleep.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon, are also used to treat fabric to resist stains and wrinkles. It’s a bad idea to cook with chemical-coated non-stick pans, and it’s also a bad idea to wear these toxic chemicals.
Your skin absorbs almost anything that it comes into contact with – good or bad. So there’s no barrier to keep toxic substances from directly entering your bloodstream through your skin.
The non-organic textile industry is polluting our environment, harming our soil and wasting precious resources.
The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) estimates that it takes 5,283 gallons of water to produce two pounds of conventional cotton.
For just one T-shirt, it takes about 400 gallons of water, and that water is often siphoned from drought-threatened rivers and lakes in cotton-growing regions.
With worldwide water shortages, these conventional practices lay a heavy burden on the earth. Toxic and carcinogenic pesticide residues flow into lakes, rivers and other waterways, harming plants and wildlife.
A study looked at the long-term impact of Bt cotton on soil organisms. It found that Bt cotton is having a serious negative impact on the beneficial enzymes that make soil fertile. Total biomass of the soil was also reduced by nearly 9% in the areas that were studied.
Conventional cotton production involves human rights violations and damages the health of workers.
According to the WHO, an estimated 20,000 people die each year in developing countries from exposure to agricultural chemicals. There is also a link between agricultural chemicals and birth defects, developmental concerns in children and the weakening of immune systems.
Plus, there’s the tragedy of human rights violations and child labor in cotton-producing countries in the developing world. The cotton industry is often a modern form of slavery.
In Uzbekistan, the second largest cotton exporter in the world, one-third of the population – including children as young as seven – must labor for the government-owned cotton industry with little clean water to drink, bare hands and no gear to protect them from the toxic pesticides.
How Your Active and Workout Clothes May Be Polluting the Environment and the Food Supply
Stretchy yoga pants and leggings, and cozy fleece jackets and hoodies are popular clothing choices today.
However, there’s a down side to these much-adored articles of clothing.
Every time you wash yoga pants or leggings, or a fleece jacket, sweatshirt or bathrobe made from fleece, you release plastic microfibers into the water.
Estimates range up to 250,000 microfibers, depending on the age of the garment. The older the clothing, the more microfibers are released. Lower-quality leggings, fleece and acrylic fleece shed the most – up to 170% more than higher-quality brands.
While treatment plants can remove some of these microscopic plastic fibers from the water, about 40% end up in rivers, lakes and oceans.
Even worse for the environment than the now-banned microbeads in face scrubs, these microfibers are mistakenly eaten by fish and other wildlife and accumulate in their digestive tracts.
As you go up the food chain, the fibers concentrate in the bodies of larger animals. And then, when you eat the fish or the animal, you may be consuming microfibers.
What’s especially concerning about microfibers, besides being plastic, is the fact that they act like sponges and soak up toxins like pesticides, PCBs and oil as they move up the food chain.
Microfibers have become so widespread in the environment, one researcher found that these plastic fibers now make up 85% of human-sourced debris on coastlines, both salt and fresh water, around the world.
Organic Cotton is Helping to Revitalize the Earth Through Regenerative Agriculture
With all the damage being done to the environment, our soils and our precious natural resources, it’s always rewarding to find ways to be part of the solution. Little individual decisions add up to a big difference for the earth.
Organic cotton, a natural fiber, not only offers a much better clothing option for your personal health. It also offers a way to help restore and protect the health of the earth, especially when you consider its effects on agriculture.
Organic cotton production:
- Utilizes non-GMO seeds that haven’t been treated with toxic fungicides or pesticides.
- Uses only organic-approved fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides made from plants, animals and minerals to avoid harming soil organisms.
- Reduces the environmental footprint of cotton farming by using 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventional cotton.
- Is designed so that plants are 80% rain-fed, reducing reliance on local water sources.
- Reduces field emissions of greenhouse gas produced by conventional fertilizer and reduces dangerous nitrogen and phosphorus deposits into water.
- Increases soil protection that, in turn, helps prevent erosion.
- Promotes safer work and better livelihoods for farmers.
When you buy organic cotton, you are supporting cleaner air, water conservation efforts, improved soils, and a better life for farmers.
Organic cotton farmers urgently need your support. Breaking with the dominant model of agriculture is not easy and comes with many challenges.
When you make a purchase – any clothing purchase – you are voting with your dollars. You are either saying “Yes!” to organic cotton and a better way of life for farmers around the world... or you’re saying “Yes!” to unscrupulous mega-corporations who value only their bottom line.
Watch Out for “Blending” or “Sustainable Cotton” – Make Sure You’re Getting Certified Organic Cotton
Because organic cotton supplies are limited worldwide, you must be very careful when buying an article of clothing labeled “organic cotton.”
In their attempts to capitalize on the growing demand for organic cotton, some major retailers teamed up to form the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to create a new category called “sustainable cotton.”
The only problem is... this isn’t necessarily organic cotton. It’s often GMO cotton.
These large brands are doing what’s called “blending.” They’re using organic cotton with non-organic, GMO cotton in the same garment.
While some of these companies may want to do the right thing, this kind of labeling can confuse customers and lead them to think they’re getting something they’re not.
So, how can you be sure what you buy is truly organic cotton?
Just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets standards for organic food, Global Organic Textile Standards, or GOTS, provides third-party certification for the organic textile industry.
GOTS oversees the growing, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles made with at least 70% certified organic fiber.
Like organic food standards, a textile product carrying the GOTS Organic seal must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibers, while one with the “made with organic” label must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fiber.
GOTS-certified textiles must be produced without conventional cotton’s pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, formaldehyde, chlorine bleaches, heavy metals or other chemicals not approved by organic standards that may be detrimental to humans and the environment.
These are high standards to meet, delivering benefits to the earth and to your body.
With the GOTS certification, you don’t need to worry about the effect your may have on the earth. And you don’t need to worry about harmful residues on your clothing potentially causing health problems.
Buying certified organic cotton means you don’t need to wonder if it’s the “real deal.” GOTS has done the work to guarantee it.
Honoring the Greek Goddess of the Harvest – We Introduce SITO™ Certified Organic Clothing
Sito, also known as Demeter in Ancient Greek religion and mythology, was honored as the goddess of the harvest and agriculture. According to Greek mythology, Sito presided over the fertility of the earth, the sacred law and the cycle of life and death.
In honor of what we’re trying to accomplish with organic cotton, we have named our line of organic cotton clothing SITO™. The name of this beneficent mythological character represents our focus on supporting regenerative agriculture and fertile soils around the world.
You can also think of it in terms of an acronym: Soil Integrity Textile Organic.
Whether you think of it as a name or an acronym, SITO™ describes our mission perfectly. Every time you make a purchase from our clothing line, you’ll know you’re taking a stand for organic cotton and regenerative agriculture.
Our SITO™ line includes nearly everything you need, from socks and underwear to workout clothes and sweatshirts, and even dresses for women. Plus, we have soft and cozy baby and adult blankets, and thirsty dish towels.
We have items to cover your entire family – babies, children, women and men.
The Plight of the Indian Cotton Farmer... and How We’re Taking a Stand
In 1996, a new type of cotton became commercially available to growers. They call it Bt cotton – Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, the name of the bacterium that scientists took a gene from to genetically modify the cotton.
With the toxic gene from the bacterium inserted into the cotton plants, the cotton produces its own deadly toxin.
In 2002, Bt cotton was introduced in India, where cotton farmers were promised they would be able to use less pesticide and that their yields and farm income would increase.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. Not only did pesticide use rise but crop yields and income declined, too.
Indian farmers stricken with debt actually started committing suicide in record numbers – often by drinking the pesticide itself. In 2013, 11,772 Indian farmers committed suicide – 44 deaths every day. And many of those farmers grew cotton.
Along with unmet promises from the Bt seed suppliers, unseasonal rain and hail took their toll. And while Bt cotton may have been effective at killing the caterpillars it was designed to kill, secondary pests emerged and took their place, forcing farmers to use greater and greater amounts of costly pesticides — as much as 13 times more.
In addition to the pesticides farmers have to apply to the plants, Bt cotton is a pesticide itself – it’s actually registered that way. The Bt toxin is produced in every cell of the plant, so simply handling the plants exposes the farmers to yet another source of toxins.
Bt cotton seed puts farmers at a disadvantage from the outset, costing between four and ten times more than conventional hybrid seed. And the farmers are forced to buy new seed every year.
In recent years, increasing numbers of Indian cotton farmers have slowly begun bucking the conventional cotton mega corporations and switching over to growing organic cotton.
These farmers are finding that organic cotton is not only better for the health of their families, workers and animals, but it also guarantees them a minimum price for their harvest.
SITO™ Organic Cotton supports these brave farmers every step of the way...
Why Indian Organic Cotton Instead of American Cotton?
Our goal is to bring you affordable organic cotton clothing that you can wear every day.
Because of its very limited supply, right now, American-grown organic cotton is more than twice the cost of organic cotton from India.
While the number of GOTS-certified facilities in the United States is growing, there are still relatively few. In contrast, India has thousands of GOTS-certified facilities.
We’re supporting American-grown cotton with our Organic Cotton Dirt Shirts, and doing all we can to help reignite the U.S. organic cotton industry.
However, there’s currently a lack of infrastructure and various bottlenecks slowing the growth of the U.S. industry, unlike in India, where the organic cotton industry is already well-established.
It’s going to take time to rebuild the U.S. organic cotton industry to the level it was in the past. But believe me, once we accomplish this milestone, we’ll be doing our part to provide a market for those goods.
In the meantime, let me tell you a little secret about Indian cotton...
It isn’t second best.
Indian organic cotton naturally has a longer staple length that is very, very soft. When it comes to undergarments and socks, you can’t beat it for comfort.
Feel the Difference with SITO™ Organic Cotton
You already know the benefits organic cotton provides for the health of your body and the earth. But did you know that it also has an exceptional texture?
SITO™ organic cotton feels different than conventional cotton. With its long staple length, it:
- Feels soft and comfortable next to your skin.
- Absorbs and controls moisture.
- Provides warmth and comfort.
- Keeps you cool by pulling heat away from your skin.
- Prevents moisture from building up between your skin and your clothes.
- Allows air to flow easily through fibers and, unlike synthetic fibers, permits your skin to “breathe”.
When you're active, organic cotton and other natural fibers wick away body moisture from your skin and allow it to evaporate naturally. In other words, natural fibers let your body "breathe."
Synthetic fabrics don't provide the same ventilation that you get from organic cotton and other natural fibers. It tends to hold in moisture and trap body heat.
When it comes to working out, you just can't beat organic cotton. With its breathability and natural moisture absorption, organic cotton leaves you feeling naturally more comfortable.
Here's an interesting fact to consider… Cotton can hold up to one-fifth of its weight in water before feeling damp. That simple fact helps make hot, humid weather more bearable, especially when exercising outdoors.
You may get better value for your money, too, when you buy organic. Organic cotton has high tensile strength, which becomes 30% stronger when wet, allowing it to withstand repeated washings and everyday use.
Beautiful, Lasting Color Without Azo Dyes, Formaldehyde, Bleach, GMOs, Phthalates and Heavy Metals
Just like our Certified Organic Cotton sheets and towels, every SITO™ clothing item is dyed using low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes for great lasting color with the lowest environmental impact possible.
A low-impact dye is a dye that has been classified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process) as eco-friendly.
Generally, low impact dyes do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants, chemicals that fix the dye to the fabric. They also require less water and less rinsing than conventional dyes and typically work at lower temperatures.
Fiber-reactive dyes are low-impact dyes that bond directly with the fibers. Using low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes provides several benefits:
- They contain no heavy metals, formaldehyde, GMOs, chlorine bleaches, acetone, or other potentially dangerous substances.
- Colors are brighter and richer and are wash-fast.
- Better for the environment because of less wastewater runoff and energy savings.
This earth-friendly dying process requires less rinsing and has a high absorption rate in the fabric, which translates into less wastewater. With this process, there’s less than a 5% runoff into the environment, compared to 60% for regular cotton.
The OEKO-TEX Standard provides assurance that it’s been tested by an independent laboratory and found to be free of harmful levels of more than 100 substances, including azo and allergenic dyes, phthalates, heavy metals and pesticides that are commonly used with conventional cotton.
Low-impact dyes cost much more than conventional dyes, but for something your body is exposed to daily, like clothing and sheets and towels, it’s worth the extra cost.
Are You Ready to Make the Switch to Organic Cotton?
You’re careful about what you put in your body. You should be just as careful about what you put on your body.
Your clothes are an integral part of your life, and if you’re like most people, you wear some type of clothing next to your skin 24 hours a day.
Don’t you think it makes good sense to choose organic cotton?
Now, you can have it all – comfort, security, quality and smart design – and at a reasonable price, too.
Our SITO™ line includes women’s, men’s, children’s, and babies’ wear, as well as dish towels and blankets for both babies and adults.
We have socks, underwear, workout clothes, t-shirts, leggings, sweatshirts, bathrobes and dresses. And they’re all stylishly packaged, perfect for gift-giving.
When you choose organic cotton, you’re providing a healthier option for yourself, your family and your friends.
But you’re doing much more, too. You’re helping to support farmers who are willing to stand up to the mega-corporations and do the right thing for their families, their workers and their land.
When you choose organic cotton, you’re supporting a cleaner, healthier environment where people, soil, animals and insects can all thrive.
While we’ve made sure our prices are as reasonable as possible, we certainly can’t compete on cost against the cheap fast fashion flooding the country. Choosing organic cotton clothing may still cost you a few cents more, but isn’t your well-being worth it?
Delight yourself with the best in healthy, comfortable apparel. Start shopping now to find your favorite SITO™ Certified Organic Cotton clothing today.