We are surrounded by items made of different types of fabrics in every room in our homes: sofas, cushions, rugs, tablecloths, bathroom towels, kitchen towels, bedding. It is important that these are made of beautiful and comfortable materials but additionally, as we become more aware of elements that have an impact on our well-being and health, it is important to consider the level of chemicals these may contain.
You would be surprised by the amount of chemicals contained in your bedding, for example, which you are exposed to while you sleep. Bedding made of materials such as polyester or polyester blends contain formaldehyde resin. This resin is added to the fabric to reduce creasing and the need for ironing. However, as the resin breaks down over time, it releases formaldehyde into the air which can cause skin allergies, headaches and respiratory problems. Even with natural fibres, you can be exposed to chemicals from pesticides used in crops, chemical-based dyes and flame retardants.
Some may argue that worrying about chemicals in bedding and other fabric materials in the home is being a bit too precious and believe that people have been living with that for a long time with no problem. Well, actually, polyester was invented in the 1940’s and synthetic pesticides started to be widely used in cotton and other crops in the same decade; before that, the norm was the use of natural non-toxic materials. Since then, many side effects for the end users have been studied and continue to be identified.
One of the biggest advantages of using organic fabrics in your home is that you will create a healthier environment for your family. The risk of skin allergy reactions and respiratory problems such as asthma, especially in children, will be greatly reduced. Removing the nasty chemicals from your home can also reduce random episodes of a headache. There are many reasons why one would have a headache but exposure to toxic chemicals can contribute to create or aggravate the problem.
In addition to the personal advantages of using organic fabrics, by favouring them you are also contributing to the reduction of air pollution which causes serious health problems especially for crop workers but also affects animal species in the surroundings. Organic fabric production is sustainable and contributes to a better planet as well as to fair working and trading practices which benefit farmers and their families.
Identifying products made with organic textiles can seem like a tricky task at first. Sometimes labels will not give you any insight on if, for example, the cotton used is organic. The lack of information can be taken as a sign of non-compliance with organic fabric standards. Manufacturers that use organic materials on their products will make sure to make that very clear on their labels. They will want to shout about it because they have to adhere to stringent manufacturing and social accountability criteria.
Look for the following marks on fabric products for your home:
The Soil Association Organic logo and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo mean that the product has been produced organically and made in factories that comply with strict environmental standards and good working conditions, and has been certified by an independent third party organization. GOTS approved products must contain at least 70% organic fibre content in the grade ‘made with organic’. Products with the label ‘organic’ contain at least 95% certified organic fibres.
The Fairtrade Certified Cotton logo means that the product has been produced with cotton originated from farms which adhere to standards for the protection of worker’s rights and the environment as well as from companies that pay a Fair Trade Minimum price for the purchase of the cotton as well as investing in community projects.
Buying products for your home that are made with organic fabrics can create a healthier environment for your family and increase your well-being. Do not underestimate the impact of toxic chemicals contained in non-organic fabrics. The organizations that certify organic fabrics thoroughly check product composition, environmental impact and working conditions to make your job as a consumer as easy as looking at a label. Next time you buy products made with fabric for your home make sure to look for the organic logos while you look at the price tag and Green It Yourself…Now!
Bought organic fabrics for your home and felt the difference? Have difficulty finding organic fabrics? Tell us about your experience and doubts below!