It was very early on in the process of forming Go Low, that the decision was made to not use any synthetic fibres. There are a number of reasons that we think organic cotton is better – some environmental, some personal preference.
The environmental reasons are fairly obvious. The use of plastic in clothing has an enormous impact on the well being of the planet. Especially plastic microfibres and the oceans. Yes, washing machines can be fitted with filters but currently, in the UK at least, they are not even close to being common. It is estimated that 9.4 trillion (yes, trillion!) fibres are released via the washing of clothing, every week, in the UK alone.
We just didn’t want to be a part of that problem.
It’s possible that one day we will be setup to deal with micro plastics and the issues they introduce. If and when that is true it’s possible clothing made from recycled plastic waste may be preferable. Until then, its GOTS Certified organic cotton all the way.
Honestly? Nylon and polyester shirts honk! One wear on a sunny day and they’re done. Doesn’t matter how many times you wash them or how many microfibres are worn off – they’ll stink each and every time.
With nylon and polyester eliminated from our options we looked into a number of others. There is rayon, viscose, modal, tencel and more. All of these are made from various plant material – birch, bamboo etc… These sound great on paper but, to extract the cellulose from the plant material a whole host of toxic chemicals are required.
Some, such as Tencel, are making strides to reduce this impact and also ensure that the plant material is only sourced from sustainable forestry. The downside is these are hard to source and are very expensive to purchase.
So, why organic cotton?
We’ll be honest. Cotton, for all it’s amazing qualities – soft, stretchy, warm and breathable and so on – it’s not perfect. Cotton takes a huge amount of water to grow and be processed. This is not without substantial environmental impact and it is estimated that a standard cotton t-shirt uses approximately 3000 litres of water.
However, impact is reduced if the cotton is produced organically. And that, is why we only use GOTS certified organic cotton. The GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard) certification covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic fibres. Again, this doesn’t solve all of the issues but it goes some way to alleviating some of them.
New clothing is always going to have an environmental impact. As a small supplier of hand tailored clothing, we do our best and will continue to look at ways of improving. Not only do we only use the good stuff to make our clothes we offer a repair service and garment up-cycling options so it’s life cycle can be extended. And, as an added benefit of using a natural fibre, when it finally is time to go, it can biodegrade peacefully.