Nothing can be more worrisome for a parent than a situation when his/ her child is unwell. Today, ‘allergies’ seem to be one of the major reasons for frequent sickness in children – these allergies could be from the food they consume, the environmental pollution that they are exposed to, viruses that have increased in number due to frequent travelling, the bad quality material used in toys they play with or even the ‘clothes’ they are wearing all day.
Think of the moment when a child is born, the baby’s skin is so gentle, so pure and so clean that you wish not a spec of dirt comes on it. Don’t you think they deserve to wear the most natural, clean, safe and pure clothing which is free of hazardous, toxic and unhealthy chemicals/ dyes? The wrong clothing on the sensitive skin of children (especially during their initial immunity building growth years), can result into skin allergies by the touch of the fabric, respiratory diseases when they would breathe the fabric they are wearing or even some other health issues that may arise when they perspire and the chemicals enter their tender bodies.
Dermatitis is an allergic reaction to clothing that occurs when antibody cells on our body recognize chemical structures of compounds used and found in clothes, they then treat them as foreign objects or even consider them as threatening. Because of that reaction, plasma cells will start producing allergic antibodies which find their way to different systems of the body. These antibodies will integrate with pro-inflammatory cells that line the skin. When they bind together, histamines are released; thereby, causing different symptoms of clothing allergy.
Mainly two main types of fibres are used in garment production – natural and synthetic.
Natural fabrics are as the name suggests are fabrics that are naturally-derived; made of animal or plant-based fibres. The most common natural fabrics are: cotton, wool, silk, hemp and linen. Natural fibres are widely regarded as more sustainable than synthetic fabrics given its ability to degrade easily.
Synthetic fabrics are man-made and produced synthetically – the resulting form does not exist naturally anywhere on the planet. The most common synthetic fabrics are: polyester, nylon, spandex and acrylic.
Is Cotton a good option for clothing?
Cotton is the best-selling fibre in clothing, outselling all others combined. Cotton may have existed in Egypt as early as 12,000 B.C. But unfortunately, conventional cotton accounts for nearly 25% of the insecticides and 10% of the pesticides used throughout the world, although is it grown on only 3% of the total cultivated area. Cotton crops have been plagued by numerous diseases and pests over the years and rank fourth in the list of most heavily fertilized crops. Technological advances during World War II accelerated post-war innovation in all aspects of agriculture, resulting in large advances in mechanization (including large-scale irrigation), fertilization, and pesticides. In particular, two chemicals that had been produced in quantity for warfare were re-purposed for peace-time agricultural uses. Ammonium nitrate, used in munitions, became an abundantly cheap source of nitrogen. And a range of new pesticides appeared: DDT, which had been used to control disease-carrying insects around troops, became a general insecticide, launching the era of widespread pesticide use.
So what could be a safe option for children?
‘Organic Cotton’ – it is grown using organic means without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. Traditional farming (of many particular kinds in different eras and places) was the original type of agriculture and has been practised for thousands of years. All traditional farming is now considered to be organic farming, an integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity whilst, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones which not only harm the health of the farmers using it but also settle deep in the fibre used for making the finished fabric. These chemicals pollute our environment and surface waters. Organic farming methods work with nature to maintain ecosystem balance and biodiversity. Organic cotton farming helps in the long-term sustainability of the planet, not just for current generations but also for generations to come.
Organic cotton naturally dyed is…
- soft to touch making the texture comfortable to wear on delicate skin
- a renewable resource, biodegradable and will decompose in a natural environment
- it is a durable fabric and hence the best option for kids
- growing organic cotton is the most natural way of farming
- reduces environmental pollution, helps to improve the quality of land and conserves biodiversity
- an all-weather friendly fabric – can add protection from the heat in warmer temperatures and keep the wearer warm in cooler temperatures
- is breathable and has the ability to transfer moisture away from the skin at a quicker rate than synthetic fabrics. It aids in the body’s natural cooling mechanism. Our bodies eliminate toxins in sweat, so trapping that all inside a sweaty synthetic fabric isn’t just uncomfortable, but unhealthy
- cotton is a hypoallergenic fabric, meaning it is ideal for those prone to allergies or skin irritations. Organic cotton, in particular, has no use of chemicals and hence has less chance of creating skin rashes or eczema in some cases
- Ensures better health for farmers and their families
- organically grown without the use of any harmful chemicals and pesticides
- dyed using only colours from vegetables, flowers and fruits that are pure, natural and healthy for the skin of your child
Now that you are a more aware parent, here’s what you could do next time you are out clothes shopping for your little ones –
- Carry your reusable bag along
- Ask yourself, ‘do you really need to buy the item?’
- Do your research – ask the seller for the contents of the fabric and who have made these clothes
- Make sure to choose organic, natural and bio-degradable materials over toxic synthetic plastic materials. 100% organic cotton is great!
- Buy a well-made item that would last longer than the cheaper options which have a shorter life and will need to be disposed of soon
- Wash less – wash only when required
- Make it last – treat with care
- Happy Mindful Shopping! And good luck for sustainable fashion for your little fashionistas.