Having trouble keeping up with our increasingly organic, eco-friendly world? Let me be your guide! From all-natural makeup to the best in eco-conscious jeans, I will test and review the products and treatments that are best for you and the planet.
Organic tomatoes? Sure. Organic apples? OK. Organic jeans? What?
Welcome to the next generation of denim.
As we become more and more interested in what we put in our bodies, it only makes sense that we would take a greater interest in what we put on our bodies. And why not start with jeans? The universal clothing item, the great fashion equalizer, jeans unite the working-class laborer with the high-style fashionista, the soccer mom with the off-duty banker. They are the uniform of youthful antics — see them ripped at the knees and covered in grass stains — yet paired with heels, they march confidently into many a high-powered boardroom. Originally designed to be the ultimate in cheap, sturdy clothing, jeans are also the stuff of runways, sometimes carrying a price tag of up to $500.
Like most Americans, I love my jeans — I wear them low-rise, high-rise, straight-leg, boot-cut, even maternity-style (regular jeans with a stretchy belly) — so it was deeply disheartening to put this simple equation together: Jeans are made of 100 percent cotton and conventional cotton production is one seriously toxic process. Organic Exchange, an organization dedicated to encouraging organic agriculture — with a focus on organically grown fibers like cotton — has found that between 40 and 47 percent of the world’s textiles are made from cotton, and over 90 percent of cotton production involves the use of synthetic chemicals — all those pesticides and insecticides. Every time I read that statistic, I mentally empty the contents of my dresser drawers. I see piles of cotton socks and underwear, cotton tights and pants, cotton T-shirts and, of course, cotton jeans. That’s a lot of chemicals.
Though there have been no formal studies — yet! — on the effects of chemically produced cotton clothing on the health of the average human being, several of the pesticides used during conventional U.S. cotton production have been proven to be carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So, simple reasoning states that if you’re wearing jeans made with nonorganic cotton, you are most likely exposing your skin — the biggest organ on the body — to some level of toxicity. And if that’s not enough to convert you, think about the earth. Conventional cotton farming can have devastating effects on the planet as pesticides seep into the soil, water and air that surrounds us all.
Ready to slip into a pair of eco-friendly jeans? Good, because this is the moment to do it. Gone are the days of poorly shaped and styled sustainable jeans. (Note: Sustainable is the hot eco-word for clothing or housing or furniture created with the earth’s well-being in mind.) Fashion-forward designers are crafting organic cotton denim lines that rival the chic-factor of any mainstream jeans manufacturer.
Tierra Del Forte launched her organic denim line in 2005, motivated by the realization that fashion production can have a toxic effect on the earth. The ladies-only collection includes everything from short-shorts and denim vests to every style and color of jean. Del Forte also scores extra points with her unique Rejeaneration Project in which customers can send back their old Del Fortes to be recycled into second-generation denim styles. The reward for such eco-awareness? Ten percent off your next pair. Del Forte prices are on the high end — but not too high — at $170 to $200 a pair.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.
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