Organic cotton is far better for the planet and wildlife, and is also nicer for farmers, as they can pick the cotton, without need to wear protective clothing in very hot weather. Around a quarter of the world’s agricultural chemicals are used to make cotton, so try to find organic or recycled cotton garments, rather than new. Unlike synthetic fibres, cotton is safe to launder without breaking off microplastics into the ocean, and safely biodegrades at end of life. Also see clothing brands that help animals and where to find organic clothing for children.
This organic cotton Loren cardigan is made from super-soft organic cotton, designed to be worn with anything. A classic staple to add to your sustainable wardrobe. Made in China, sent in a biodegradable polybag. Also in mustard and birch grey. Thought is a clothing brand that offers organic cotton and bamboo items, and works with the same small businesses and factories, since the company started. All employees are treated with respect and dignity, and paid a fair wage, while providing healthy working conditions
Where to Find Sustainable T-Shirts
Whether you prefer plain or vegan message t-shirts, there are plenty of sustainable brands around, made with Fair Trade organic cotton or hemp. Here are a few. They cost a little more, but because the fibres have not been damaged by chemicals, they tend to last longer. And not just for the planet, but choosing organic is also better for wildlife and the farmers who grow the cotton.
If you have synthetic fibre clothing (and that includes recycled polyester or plastic bottles), launder in a Guppyfriend which can capture some of the microplastics that break off (however it does not catch them all, and even when binned, they could cause harm if it rains at landfill). So best to spend a few pounds extra when replacing, on natural biodegradable fabrics.
These sustainable t-shirts from Sheffield are by local company Morcant. The aim is to make ethical clothing for the modern lifestyle, inspired by nature but at an affordable price. Everything is made ethically in Bangladesh (if you buy their sweatshirts, these contain recycled polyester so launder in a microfiber catch bag):
Invisible Friend offers a nice line of beautifully made men’s organic t-shirts, in various designs and colours. Described as ‘mini modern works of art’, they have many celebrity fans, but the philosophy remains the same – to say a little of your passion in an interesting way, and save the planet too.
Affordable Organic Cotton Clothing
Many people simply can’t afford the higher prices of organic and ethical clothing. You could try locally owned charity shops, but if you want new clothes, here are some brands designed to be more affordable:
- ETHCS offers vegan, organic and Fair Wear certified clothing, with 40% of profits going to animal charities. You can send them back used items for credit against future items, and these clothes are then sold at a lower price to people on a budget. Leftover stock is made into reusable face masks (not for medical use).
- Goose Studios offers hand-printed organic staples, made to last. Founded by two friends to offer affordable fashion for everyone, everything is made to Fair Wear standards and sent in simple packaging. Sign up to their newsletter, to help plant rainforest trees.
- Earth Wardrobe (Edinburgh) makes it a mission to make ethical clothing affordable to all. Orders are shipped from their super-efficient warehouse without need for plastic bags or unnecessary packaging. But they never compromise on ethics, to reduce prices.
Carbon-Neutral Organic Cotton Clothing
Altid Clothing (UK) is a brand that is passionate about changing the fashion industry. As well as offering nice organic cotton timeless essentials, the company offsets carbon used. The clothes are also made to last. The clothes are made with sustainable materials and all packaging is plastic-free. The emphasis is on selling clothes that outlast fashion trends for years, then biodegradable back to the earth. The range includes:
If possible, it’s always best to buy clothing made from biodegradable materials like cotton (preferably organic), hemp or linen (from the flax plant). This is because not only is it good for the planet and wildlife, but at end of life, the clothes naturally break down, rather than sitting on landfill for hundreds of years. Synthetic fibres (like polyester and nylon) are made with plastic, and this also breaks microplastics off in the washing machine, when you launder your clothes, unless you use a microplastic catcher (which still does not catch all of them).