Organic Clothing? Yes, Because Toxins Lurk In Your Clothes Too

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Organic Clothing

Listen to my Green Divas Eco-Style podcast segment to leran about why organic clothes matter and why we should all be paying closer attention to eco-fashion for our own health, the health of those that produce it, and of course, the health of the planet… Then read on for more details.

Organic cotton and ethical fashion—a tougher sell than clean food.

If you’ve long bought organic food primarily because you’re looking to avoid ingesting toxic chemicals (and secondarily because you want to protect waterways and farmers from the effects of those chemicals too), you’re not alone.

According to most research done on the subject, people choose organic because they are concerned about their own health first, and then other issues follow—care for the bodies of the people growing and picking the food, health of ecosystems where the food is grown, flavor, animal welfare, and other concerns come after that.

Which has made organic clothing and ethical fashion in general a tougher sell that clean food—plenty of people say “I’m not eating my shirt, so what’s the point?”

Well, beyond the fact that ethical clothing companies are much more likely to pay (and treat) workers fairly, and heavy-metal free fabric dyeing and processing is going to be less polluting, there’s also the not-talked-about fact that clothes do carry toxins, and those chemicals can be absorbed into your body through your skin (obviously more so from clothes worn close to your body than outerwear). 

 Greenpeace Clothing

study by Greenpeace that randomly tested clothing from over 20 brands including Adidas, American Apparel, Burberry, Disney, the Gap, H&M, Nike, Primark, Puma and Uniqlo found hazardous chemicals in the finished products for adults, and for kids (who are more vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals).

This is stuff that disrupts hormones, messes with endocrine function, attacks the immune system and could be carcinogenic. (You can check out the full list of chemicals that Greenpeace suggests removing from clothing manufacture, the impacts of each, and what they are currently used for here.)

Watch the Greenpeace Detox Fashion Video:

What can you do to avoid these chemicals?

I’ve chosen not to shop at stores or buy from brands specifically cited in the Greenpeace report (until they change their practices, like Adidas has promised to), have signed their petition manfiesto, and support those designers and brands who care about what’s in what they sell to us (there’s a great list of ethical designers and stores on my site). 

Starre Awear 1 copy

A combination of natural fibers made ethically (like ahimsa silk and organic cotton), and vintage pieces, are healthier for your skin, the planet and other people too. Photo: Starre Vartan


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About the author / 

Green Diva Starre

Newly based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Starre Vartan is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in topics related to Conscious Consumption—including travel, fashion/design, beauty, and health. She also covers science topics with a focus on animals and technology, and water resources. Starre teaches blogging, writing, and strategy for mission-based companies, and consults for Fortune-500 companies and small businesses. A problogger and editor with over 10 years of experience, Starre has written for New York magazine, Metropolis, and others. She currently writes for the Huffington Post, is the lifestyle and travel columnist for, and is the Sustainable Destinations Expert for Starre is the founder and editor of, an award-winning nine-year-old website that covers ethical travel, eco fashion, natural beauty, environmental art and worldchanging women. 

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