We all want better health, for everyone. We know that it is fueled by better nutrition but most are still not aware of the role that what you put on your body (what you wear) can fuel better health for all or can detract from it. It made sense to me that if I am worried about the impact of my deodorant on my skin, neighboring tissues and my insides then I should be concerned about the material in my underwear, my nightclothes and anything else that routinely touches the same area for as long if not longer most days. So I set out on a path to “go organic” with my clothing; this proved to be a most confusing, unfashionable, and ultimately wasteful experience. Enter Marci Zaroff, my eco-fashion savior!
Marci is to fashion what her mentor, Horst Rechelbacher, is to healthy hair, skin and environment. He founded Aveda and later after selling it and wanting to do even more eco-beauty enabling, he created Intelligent Nutrients which after his recent death is run by his daughter and wife. Marci credits Horst with igniting her passion for improving our choices so that there is no compromise between “better for me” and “better for them” (all those involved with product production) and “better for the planet.” So after collaborating to start the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (which today trains thousands of health coaches globally), Marci moved on to her true passion – eco-fashion. Recently, I visited Marci in her element – the first ever GOTS certified textile factory where we (my intern, Stephanie Grasso) got a firsthand lesson in eco-fashion which we share with you here below.
AK: Does fashion really pose much of a environmental resource concern (as compared to cars for example)?
MZ: Coal may be the biggest environmental polluter, but do you know what falls behind as second? Fashion. Yes, fashion. The clothing you put on everyday. From the textiles and dyes to the different aspects of the manufacturing process, the production of clothes, linens, underwear can be dirty business. For cotton alone:
➢ Conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides.
➢ Organic cotton, conversely, uses no toxic chemicals throughout its production and harvesting. As such, it doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy.
AK: When people ask me where they should start “going organic” with food I tell them to choose what goes in and on the body most often, so when it came to textiles I decided to start with my underwear, socks, and towels. I looked everywhere for an organic logo – I found some that contained organic materials but I couldn’t find certified organic? What is the issue?
MZ: You are right –USDA organic certification does not work for textiles for several reasons. As I became aware of this, and that most of our fashion is produced outside of the US, it became evident that we would need to have a global organic standard For the last decade, I have worked with other leaders globally to create the Global Organic Textile Standards. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed to provide transparency and authenticity in the movement for certified organic apparel, home fashion and other textiles. With increased consumer demand around reducing the harmful social and environmental impacts in the fashion industry, GOTS certification represents the platinum global standard for finished organic fiber products. The adoption of GOTS as the textile counterpart to the NOP organic food seal is critical to ensure both integrity and traceability of the rapidly growing global organic textile industry.
AK: So I was sold on the health and environmental benefits, but I felt like I couldn’t find items that looked, well, fashionable. I see that you’ve got a lot of celebs now sporting ecofashion and there are even green fashion shows – where can I look for products that meet your standard?
MZ: Here are a list of my go-to’s beginning with my company, Under the Canopy, that are seeking to make eco-fashion affordable and available for as many people as possible. For example, if you are getting your kids bed outfitted or sending them off to college – head to Bed Bath & Beyond and make the better (for all) eco-fashion fabric choice.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Nature Pedic (mattresses)
Human Revolution Clothing
AK: Years ago, I recall it being really difficult to find quality “better beauty” – ones that were better for all and that worked – skincare and makeup options; today thanks to the work of people like Horst, that’s a reality including the recent launch at Target featuring an Ashley Koff Approved (AKA) favorite … I see this as that earlier time period, but perhaps the tipping point, when it comes to eco-fashion – what do you think is fueling this shift?
MZ: People want better health for all and they know that that is linked to the soil, to what is farmed and how it is farmed and produced. With increased consumer demand in human & environmental health and certified organic products, it’s time to reignite certified organic cotton in American agriculture. MetaWear was conceived as a solution provider to pave the way on these efforts, connecting the dots from food to fiber and “farm to finished fashion.” I am thrilled that MetaWear’s facility is the first to be GOTS certified and it is right here in your backyard, Ashley, in Virginia!
I am also extremely excited to be chairing the recently launched Organic Trade Association (OTA) “Organic Fiber Council.” and that this year’s OTA “Farmer of the Year” Leadership Award is going to the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC). I believe the increased engagement in organic cotton — the fastest growing non-food organic category — demonstrates that organic fiber products are the next big frontier of the organic industry.