Making organic clothing the next organic food | Organic Clothing Canada
For the past 5 years, there has been a visible movement towards consuming organic products in North America. In Canada, organic is regulated by the government and must follow national standards. There are over 3780 organic farms in Canada covering 953 thousand hectares of land. Supporting local organic farmers and producers is more than just a trend it’s a new way of thinking, shopping and eating for young Canadians.
Total annual retail sales of certified organic products in Canada are approximately 5.4 billion up from $3.5 billion in 2012, and 66% of Canadian shoppers are purchasing organic items weekly. Plus, 80% of organic shoppers make organic purchases at regular grocery stores. That means that retailers are also making the change so organic products are more available to Canadian consumers.
How can we apply the same success story to organic clothes made in Canada?
Now, this is great news, but how can we apply the same success story to organic clothes? Some might think that buying organic clothes made in Canada doesn’t have the same impact on the economy or the environment has buying locally grown fruit and vegetable products. On the opposite, the clothing industry needs our full attention. With the fast fashion phenomenon, which means that garments go from design to store in a quick flash; we end up consuming 80 billion pieces of clothing globally every year. Fast fashion giants make clothing to fall apart: some fabrics used like polyester can take up to 200 years to break down and the wages of workers in garment factories can be as low as US$1-$3 a day. Retail giants are obsessed with the bottom line, so they will do anything to make you buy more clothes. This situation is alarming and we need to learn from the food industry and offer more fair trade organic clothing to Canadians on a broader scale.
Changing perceptions about organic clothing
‘There’s still a perception around ethical clothing for being ‘boho’. For many years, organic and eco-friendly clothes have been perceived to be non-fashionable. The offering was once limited to only a few fabrics like linen or organic cotton. But, today consumer’s perceptions are shifting; and becoming more open-minded as they see relevant, fashionable clothing that has been mindfully and locally made with various sustainable fabrics. Eco fashion, today, doesn’t stop at organic cotton. There are tons more natural and recycled, low impact fibers available (like Tencel, made from sustainably harvested Eucalyptus trees – the fiber used in our next fall collection) that further the efforts towards eco friendly clothing production.
Going organic is a two-fold virtue: it’s an effort to do better by your body while simultaneously reducing your negative impact on the environment. As consumers are learning that what they put on their bodies is just as important as what they put in, and as we discover the negative realities behind the fast fashion industry worldwide, it’s driving us towards a tipping point where ecofashion inevitably needs to accelerate into the mainstream.
The change starts with demand
So let’s say you are looking for tunics to wear with leggings. Your first instinct might be to go to the closest mall or visit the website of a large retail store. It will be almost impossible for you to find eco friendly tunics as an option. And, if you do, you have no validation that the conditions in which these clothes were made were acceptable.
You might have to spend a little more time online or perhaps change the way you search. But, the point is that it is possible to find eco friendly stylish tunics that are made in Canada outside these 2 channels. Online shopping is a fabulous way to change our habits by looking for eco-friendly clothes or organic clothing made in Canada. You’ll be surprised to see our many creative and trendy Canadian brands are out there. You will also find many blogs listing eco brands that you might have never heard from before.
Eco-friendly clothes: not always more expensive
Besides finding the right brands that suit your style and your needs, the “boho” perception and the price point are frequently the barriers for women to switch from regular to earth-friendly clothes. As a Canadian designer and manufacturer, there is no hiding here. It is hard and almost impossible to compete price-wise with brands that make their clothes overseas. But we do it anyway and we’re not doing so badly after all! For example, shopping for casual dresses; at Message Factory we try to maintain simple designs with quality sustainable fabrics. Simpler can be better! For 90$ CAN you can find a short sleeve dress in organic cotton or bamboo that is completely made here in Canada. Plus we ship free and accept returns. Yes, it might be 10 to 20% more expensive than what you are used to, but you will be proud to wear a dress that is eco-friendly and made in Canada. Plus, your purchase helps the planet and provides jobs to another fellow Canadians. This cute little dress will become meaningful and inspire you on top of it!
So when the time comes for you to shop for stylish tunics and dresses again, think about the different possibilities out there. Visit local shops, search differently online, look for eco friendly women tanks that ship for free and offer free returns. That is a great way to try new eco-friendly brands without risks. Shop some sales, just like any other brand; eco-friendly clothes will be on sale at some point during the year. Some eco sites will also offer discounts if you register to a newsletter. In the meantime, while you do that, our industry might be learning from the organic food industry to make our products more available to Canadians. Our governments might start looking into legislation like they did with the food industry. We need to remind ourselves that it is possible to make profits along with respecting the planet and our peers. When buying clothes made in Canada, you directly impact our economy in positive ways. Every dollar spent in Canada has a ripple effect that far exceeds that of simple profits made by the businesses that take our money in exchange for goods or services. The idea is to consider Canadian-made clothes over foreign-made ones first and buy these as often as we can.