Certified organic fibres, like plant based organic fibres - cotton, linen, hemp and animal based fibres like organic wool and silk, are all products which come from organic farming practices.
Both types of fibres, organic plant-based and animal-based, are grown and processed to rigorous organic standards, like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is currently recognised as the world's leading processing standard for textiles made from certified organically produced raw materials.
Any certified organic farm, be it a farm where organic wool, linen, cotton or hemp come from, will be using methods which are beneficial for nature, wildlife, and people.
Organic farms are good for wildlife and nature because:
Cruel fibres like mulesed wool are prohibited. GOTS standards do not allow to use fibres, which originate from production projects where there is evidence of a persistent pattern of gross violations of animal welfare principles like mulesing. As per GOTS, the adopted definition of mulesing is, “Removal of wool-bearing strips of skin from the breech area of sheep intended to avoid problems of flystrike. This includes any type of breech modification, including freeze branding/steining”. (1)
Organic farming uses fewer pesticides. Organic farming lowers the risk of environmental pollution and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by severely restricting the use of manufactured chemical fertilisers and pesticides (2).
Organic farming maintains on-site natural resources like hedgerows, ponds and woodland. (3)
Natural, sustainable soil fertility is encouraged through composting and crop rotation (4) with legumes to provide nitrogen, rather than energy hungry synthetic fertilisers (5). Organic standards ban the use of manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.
Organic farming lowers the risk of pollution in rivers and waterways. Fertilisers used in farming can create ‘ocean dead zones’ which deprive life below water of vital oxygen. (6) The main cause of ‘ocean dead zones’ is nitrogen fertilisers. (7)
It is not just wildlife and nature, who can benefit from certified organic practices. People, the farmers themselves, and workers in the production chain, are taken into account in such organic standards, like GOTS.
Organic standards are good for people because:
Organic standards restrict the use of antibiotics (such as Colistin) that are critically important for human health. (8) The overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals could contribute to antibiotic resistance. The more sparingly we use our antibiotics, the more effective they will remain. (9)
Child and forced labour is banned when working with GOTS certified practices. (10)
Workers are treated and paid fairly when working for bodies certified to GOTS. Wages and benefits paid for regular working hours meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. (11)
(2) Reganold and Wachter (2016). Organic Agriculture in the Twenty First Century. Nature Plants, 2, 15221
(4) Soil Association Standards for Great Britain, Farming & Growing v1.2 Jan 2023.
(5) V. Smil (2011). Nitrogen cycle and world food production. World Agriculture 2, 9–13 Nitrogen cycle and world food production | World Agriculture (world-agriculture.net)
(6) Diaz, R. J. and Rosenberg, R. (2008) Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems, Science, 321, 5891
(7) Diaz, R. J. and Rosenberg, R. (2008) Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems, Science, 321, 5891
(8) Soil Association Organic Standards for Great Britain, Farming and Growing Version 1.2, January 2023, Chapter 3.4
(9) Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, ‘The dangers of antibiotic use’, online at: http://www.saveourantibiotics. org/the-issue/ https://www. saveourantibiotics.org/news/pressrelease/survey-fnds-organic-farminghas-much-lower-antibiotic-use-thanthe-uk-national-average/ and https:// www.saveourantibiotics.org/news/ articles/interviews-with-the-expertshelen-browning-ceo-of-the-soilassociation/
Image credit: GOTS