“Organic”—the term has become ubiquitous these days. Organic produce isn’t relegated to the weekend farmer’s market anymore, restaurants proudly tout the organic ingredients in their most popular dishes, and at the grocery store, you might find yourself wondering whether it’s worth the extra couple of dollars to spring for organic varieties of cleaning products, toiletries, etc. Now, don’t get us wrong: this relatively newfound ubiquity is very good news, but it also makes it easy to lose sight of just what “Organic” means, and why it matters.

When we here at Taylor Stitch decided to take it upon ourselves to transition towards more responsible practices a few years ago, one of the first things we learned was that conventionally grown cotton—the primary ingredient in the vast majority of clothing—is shockingly taxing on the environment. In the short term, it’s easier and cheaper to grow, which is why it’s so widely used, but in the long term—sheesh, it’s not a pretty picture. Conventionally grown cotton wastes an absurd amount of water, it relies on toxic chemicals and pesticides that contaminate our soil, air, and water, and it releases jaw-dropping amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (by one estimate, 165 million tons per year).

Our Journey to 99% Organic

2017
<10%
2018
60%+
2019
90%+
2020
99%+

In 1994, Patagonia made a commitment to take their cotton organic by 1996. They did it in 18 months. We saw this and knew it was possible for TS. So, we pulled out all the stops and did it in 2.5 years. What does being radically transparent matter if it’s not in radical pursuit of the responsible choice?

For obvious reasons, one of the very first goals we set for ourselves—alongside the development and use of upcycled and recycled fibers as seen in our Heavy Bag range—was to shift away from conventionally grown cotton and move towards organic. We won’t claim it’s been easy, but we are proud to report that, in retrospect, we made this transition at a pretty respectable clip. By the end of 2018, a year after we started on this journey, more than half of the cotton we used was organic. At the end of last year, we reached 90%. And as of right now, we’re sitting at 99%. If you’re asking yourself why we don’t just knock out that last 1% while we’re at it—well, there are a small handful of products that are made from deadstock—that is, recycled—textiles that use conventional cotton. Don’t worry, we’re working on it.

But the question remains: is organic cotton really that much better than the conventionally grown stuff? Well, the answer, resoundingly, is yes! When you buy products made from organic cotton, you’re getting all of the benefits of the fiber—its comfort, breathability, and easy maintenance—with a dramatically diminished environmental impact. We’ll break it down for you:

Organic farms typically rely on rainwater rather than invasive and wasteful irrigation, thereby saving literally billions of liters of water every year. We’re talking tens of thousands of Olympic-sized pools—the numbers are truly staggering. Organic cotton uses 91% less water than conventional cotton overall, which is just one of the reasons we’re so passionate about using it.

Organic cotton is grown without toxic chemicals and pesticides. This is important, because not only do these chemicals contaminate the soil, air, and water—toxic agricultural runoff has been identified as one cause for “dead zones” in our oceans—they’re also extremely harmful and even lethal to animals, plantlife, and people. When you buy organic cotton products, you’re doing your part to discourage the reckless use of these chemicals and pesticides.

Organic cotton produces significantly less CO2 than conventionally grown cotton—by one estimate, about 46% less—and requires between 200 and 300 million fewer kilowatts of electricity per year to cultivate.

Certified organic products are held to a high standard when it comes to ethical conditions for workers, which translates to regulated wages and hours and strict rules against child labor.

We’re highlighting our range of organic cotton products this week because we want to be transparent with our customers about where our priorities lie. We think it’s important for us to exemplify the changes that we hope to see in our industry, and we want you to feel good about investing in that goal. So, the next time you wear one of our organic cotton products—whether it’s an Everyday Oxford, a pair of Chinos, or some Organic ’68 Selvage Jeans—we hope you can take some pride in the fact that you’re lending your strength to the cause. See you at the next goalpost.

Certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard

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