When I do spinning and weaving demos at local schools, fairs, and art shows, I always ask the kids, “What are you wearing?” Its a key question, because whatever you put on your body ends up inside your body. Your skin is your largest organ. What you put on it matters. So stop for a minute and look at what you are wearing. Is it cotton? linen? polyester? bamboo rayon? acrylic? wool? silk? Do you know?
If you don’t know, take a minute and check the label. Your clothing has a story to tell you. If it says that its cotton, linen, wool, silk, mohair, ramie, angora or nettles — your clothing is made from natural fibers. That may be good or it may not, more about that in a minute. If it says “lycra, polyester, bamboo, soy, milk, sea-cell, rayon, viscose, acrylic, nylon, micro-fibre, or spandex, you are wearing a plastic, manmade fiber. If you determine that your clothing is manmade plastic, you will realize that your body is absorbing this plastic everytime you wear it.
It makes me mad, that women like you are being told that bamboo rayon or soy rayon is a “natural fiber.” It makes me really angry when I realize that intimate apparel like yoga clothing, panties, and bras are made with it and it is marketed as a healthy, and environmentally sound choice. This lie greatly disturbs me. Bamboo rayon, like all rayons, is a manmade, plastic fiber and will react with your skin like any polyester. Its made by taking a natural cellulose product, like wood pulp, and dissolving it in a chemical soup, cooking it, and then exuding it under pressure to create the fiber threads. Wear it for a few hours and you will smell the chemical smell off gassing. You will stink. That’s a dead give away that you are wearing chemicals and absorbing them through your skin. Think about those plastics going into your sensitive breast tissue, and then consider the exponential increase in breast cancer.
This may not be a comfortable thought, but its something that all women and those who love them, need to think about. What you wear affects your health, just like what you eat affects your health.
Polyester clothing, like other manmade fibers are absorbed through your skin. As you are wearing polyester/plastic clothing the chemicals are absorbed by your skin. Its the largest organ in your body afterall. Then the Polyester slowly releases endocrine disruptors into your body through your skin. Like BPA, these endrocrine disruptors, cause cancer, inhibit your thyroid and other glandular systems and can cause allergies, contact dermatitis and other malady’s. But it doesn’t just harm you, the one wearing the clothing. Studies have shown that when polyester clothing is washed, thousands of plastic threads end up in the wash water, and make their way into our water ways. Have you heard about the plastic in the world’s oceans? Getting rid of plastic bags isn’t going to solve the problem, because much of the plastic in the world’s ocean is washing off our clothing.
So is the solution to plastic clothing shopping elusively at Cotton Ginny. Well let’s examine cotton for a minute.
Cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop. More than 7 deadly pesticides are used on it. It requires 1/3rd of a pound of chemical fertilizer to grow enough cotton for 1 T-shirt. Pesticide residues remain in the cotton after processing. 65% of the cotton crop ends up in our food — directly as cotton seed oil, or indirectly as animal feed. Why would you want to eat it knowing all the chemicals and pesticides that are put on it? The majority of the world’s cotton crop is genetically modified, too. That means that it is routinely sprayed with herbicides. Why would you want to wear it? When its processed for clothing these pesticides and herbicides are not routinely washed off. Some of it remains in the cloth, because its right there in every cell of the plant, including the fiber. Part of this genetic modification are antibiotics, and a fungus — the cauliflower mosaic virus — that’s added with the genetic modification as a marker. It won’t wash out because its part of the genetic material in the fiber. Then when this unnatural natural cotton is processed more chemicals are added in the form of dye, bleaches, washing agents, and surface treatments. Many of these will make your sick. Read more about it here.
This is the result of our industrialized, global economy. Certified Organic Cotton bras and panties? If they existed they might be a partial solution. Locally grown and locally processed clothing, raised organically, processed without chemicals and dyed with natural dyes, in your local fibershed — its a dream right now. Would that it were accessible to all of us.
What can I suggest? If you find someone making and selling local clothing, made with organically raised fibers, save up your pennies and invest in it. Its rarer than diamonds. Support the craft co-operatives that support women overseas in their cultural handwork, especially the initiatives that are using natural dyes, and organic cotton, and silk. Seek it as you would jewels. Seriously, you can buy diamonds easier than you can buy organic cotton, silk, or wool clothing, dyed with natural dyes.
Learn to spin, weave, or knit your own clothing and plan to make at least one item for your own wardrobe this year, if only so that you understand the process and the value. It will change you.