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You may already know that fast-fashion (cheaply manufactured clothing that isn’t intended to last more than a season) is a sustainability nightmare. But did you know that the fashion industry as a whole contributes to some of the world’s worst water pollution? It’s also notorious for its manufacturing toxins, severely underpaid labor, and dangerous working conditions. And don’t get me started on the waste.
Of course, fashion doesn’t have to be detrimental to the environment, its customers, or its workers. It’s just easier and cheaper for the clothing maker when it is. 🙁 Personally, I don’t need to stuff my closet with a million cheap things that I barely wear. I’d rather pay a higher price for fewer items that are ethically and sustainably manufactured and made to last.
If you feel the same, meet Organic Basics.
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Why Organic Basics?
In contrast to fast-fashion, Organic Basics creates simply designed essentials for men and women using sustainable materials that are:
- Made from sustainable materials
- Responsibly manufactured by factories that share their values
- Eco-certified across their fabrics and processes
They literally handpick each fabric based on its environmental footprint… as well as its durability, so that you don’t have to buy from them very often. (I dig their integrity!)
And while mercury, lead, formaldehyde, chlorine, and other toxins are common in clothing manufacturing, Organic Basics employes eco-certified processes that eliminate harmful chemicals. This effort helps to protect their workers, the surrounding environment and its wildlife, as well as the folks that wear their clothes!
Their collection includes t-shirts, bras, underwear, leggings, activewear, and a handful of helpful extras. One of those extras is a washing bag that prevents microplastics in our clothing from polluting our waterways!
I’d never heard of a bag like this before, but I’m so grateful that they’ve added it to their lineup. In case you weren’t already aware of this, polyester and other plastic clothing materials (yes, polyester is a plastic) are known to shed micro-waste into the washing machine and then make their way into our oceans, rivers, and lakes.
So with this washing bag, all you have to do is fill it with any synthetic clothing and drop the bag into the washer. As the washer spins, the bag will collect the tiny particulates that shred from the fabric. Not unlike the way your dryer collects lint, the bag collects these bits so you can throw them into the trash.
Simple… yet genius.
Organic Basics makes their clothing from only natural, biodegradable, renewable, recycled, or low-impact textiles. This includes:
- Organic cotton
- Recycled nylon
- Tencel (a.k.a. Eucalyptus or lyocell)
- Recycled wool
Each of these materials is a responsible choice… but each for a different reason. Ready to get a little nerdy to find out why? Let’s go!
Here’s the thing about conventional (non-organic) cotton — it is dirty, dirty, dirty! Its farming and production contribute significantly to soil degradation, water consumption, and environmental contamination. And its significant use of pesticides threatens the health of farmworkers, wildlife, and people that live near the farm.
As a safer, healthier, and more eco-alternative, Organic Basics uses only GOTS certified organic cotton that is grown without the use of harmful insecticides and pesticides and minimizes water consumption. Their factory then manufactures this cotton — also without harmful chemicals.
Plus, the dye house where they send their cotton has found ways to reduce the water needed to dye their fabric by 40%. And the factory that cuts and sews their cotton clothing reduces textile waste by using efficient fabric cutting technique and down-cycling their fabric scraps into furniture upholstery.
Pretty thoughtful, I’d say!
By sourcing recycled nylon (as opposed to virgin nylon from raw materials), Organic Basics diverts a significant amount of textile waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Their process of manufacturing this recycled nylon uses 80% less water and 90% less CO2 carbon emissions than virgin nylon and (unlike new nylon) does not require any petroleum.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, their recycled nylon is also more durable than conventional nylon, which means their garments last longer.
Some of their nylon fabrics are also treated with a safe, recycled silver salt, called Polygiene®. Silver is known to naturally inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. This means, their activewear stays fresher longer, so you don’t need to wash it as frequently. Of course, this results in even more water and CO2 savings.
While bamboo (viscose) is often touted as an eco-fabric, the truth is that it takes a massive amount of water (and chemicals) to manufacture it into a soft fabric. In fact, the chemical processing is so intense that there is barely any bamboo left in the finished product!
By contrast, Tencel (also known as Lyocell) is sustainably made from eucalyptus trees that require significantly less water to grow and process. And instead of harmful chemicals, the eucalyptus wood pulp is dissolved using a non-toxic organic solvent that is eco-friendly and biodegradable. The resulting fabric feels softer than cotton and is often used as a silk alternative.
It takes quite a lot of land to raise sheep. Plus, it takes water and chemicals to dye it.
To massively reduce its impact, Organic Basics uses recycled wool… and does not dye it. That means, no chemicals, no wastewater, and no virgin wool.
Organic Basics (Ethical Labor + Organic Standards)
It isn’t enough to just use eco-friendly textiles for their clothing essentials — they also have to be manufactured in a safe and ethical working environment, where workers are paid a fair living wage.
Organic Basics only works with certified factory partners that share their sustainable vision AND treat their workers with respect. This means:
- Workers are provided a safe working environment
- The factory is free from forced and child labor
- Workers are paid a fair, living wage
- And enjoy benefits such as childcare and free lunches
Check out their factories below to learn more!
My experience with Organic Basics
Organic Basics sent me a lyocell (eucalyptus) bra and panty set to try and I loved them so much that I ended up buying a second set, plus a matching tank. Their recycled leggings and washbag are also sitting in my cart, just waiting for me to decide if I need another cotton tee. I definitely want one… but whether I actually need one is a different story!
Back to what I do already own… I’d never actually worn lyocell before, but I was dying to try it. It feels luxurious and I have to say, I like it even more than silk. Everything also fits really well. The bra has no padding or underwire (which is important to me) and the quality is top-notch — super strong, but also super soft.
It can be hard to find essentials that are made both sustainably and ethically, but these guys definitely delivered.