Vegan Street is commited to organic cotton.
|What is organic cotton?||
Organic cotton is grown is accordance with one or more of the commonly recognized organic standards in the United States. Currently there is no set of nationally recognized standards in the U.S., though that is likely to change fairly soon. The U. S. Department of Agriculture is currently reviewing what will likely be the final revisions to the U.S. organic standards, which are likely to go into effect in either the spring or summer of 2001.
In general, though, organic cotton is grown in the most sustainable way possible, with no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Particular care is given to the quality of the soil, so that crops harvested generations from now will have grown in soil that is as pure as the soil today.
Organic agriculture also rejects the use of genetically altered seed (seed which has been artificially combined with the genetic material of another species), as well as irradiation and the use of municipal sewer sludge as fertilizer.
|Why use organic cotton?||
Cotton is one of the most pesticide intensive crops there is. Only about 4% of agricultural land is planted with cotton, yet the same land is doused with a whopping 22% of the pesticides. In fact, there is about one-third of a cup of pesticides in every t-shirt! The jury is still out on the effects of all these pesticides, but among the known problems are a serious degradation of our water supply, decreased air quality in recently sprayed areas, and serious long-term damage to the soil.
There have been medical studies linking exposure to pesticides to certain kinds of cancer and other serious ailments. It is probably not simply coincidence that breast cancer and other diseases have risen on a curve virtually identical to the rise in pesticide use.
Cotton is also one of the crops most likely to be planted with genetically engineered seed. This seed has been combined with the genes of another species, most commonly a bacterium called bacillus thuringeinses (or Bt), which is a naturally occuring pesticide. The dangers of Bt cotton are entirely unknown, though many scientists believe that pollen from the crops could spread to neighboring plants, which could degrade nearby organic fields, and affect other plants in ways we cannot possibly know. There is also a likelihood that bugs could develop a resistance to the pesticide, creating the need for even more draconian pesticides. Bt spliced into corn has also shown to be a serious threat to the larvae of the monarch butterfly. Currently, the United States and Canada are practically the only industrialized nations that allow the use of large scale genetically engineered agriculture.
|Why is organic cotton more expensive?||
Organic cotton farms tend to be small, family owned businesses, that reject the compromises to the environment and our health that the industrial agricultural corporations use to cut corners on their costs. By not dumping massive chemical pestcides or planting genetically altered seeds, the organic farmer is forced to rely on more labor intensive, and therefore more expensive practices.
Another important consideration is that Vegan Street uses only organic vendors that use fair labor practices. Much of the clothing we wear is produced in Third World "sweatshops", that force workers to toil long hours in unsafe conditions, often for less that 30 U.S. cents per hour.
The clothes we source out are often more that twice the cost of the non-organic equivalent. We make every effort to offer them at as low a price as possible, so that everyone can afford to wear healthy, earth-friendly, and humanely produced clothing.
|Where does our organic cotton clothing come from?||
Right now, Vegan Street has two sources for organic cotton clothing.
Maggaie's/Clean Clothes from Ann Arbor , Michigan provides us with all our organic t-shirts. Maggie's uses all U.S. cotton, and their shirts are all made in the U.S.
Our camisole and dress are produced by Oskri, from ---, Wisconsin. Oskri's clothes are grown from cotton grown on a biodynamic cooperative in Egypt where all the workers share in the profits the company earns.
|Why aren't all Vegan Street clothes made from organic cotton?||Tough question. The short answer is that we're working on it. The organic cotton trade is relatively new, and there are a limited number of quality vendors. A lot of items are either impossible to find in organic cotton, or else too expensive for us for us to offer it at a fair price. When we first started out, less than two years ago, none of our clothes were organic. Now more than half of our line is, and almost all new products we're introducing are made from organic cotton. Also, whenever the time comes to reprint a t-shirt, we switch to organic. Our goal is to have our entire line made from organic cotton or other earth-friendly fabrics and processes by summer of 2002 if not sooner.
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