Is it really Organic?
Having worked in the organic textiles industry these past 7 years, Raithe knows how easy it is for traders to misrepresent the organic status of what they are importing to sell here. This is often done carelessly if not intentionally – perhaps the overseas vendor says the product is organic and that claim is conveniently taken at face value. Or, the fabric used might have been organic but the manufacturing/dyeing process could have been quite toxic.
In the absence of regulatory controls over “organic” claims made with regard to textiles in Australia, all sorts of claims are being made that are blatant green-washing. The web is now full of retailers claiming “organic” cotton, hemp and even latex without any attempt to offer certification details.
The other trend is that conventional retailers are reacting to demand from their customers and buying in so-called “organic” fabric and products, without really understanding – or perhaps really caring about – how genuinely organic the products are.
The general public understanding is that they usually don’t know what is required to have a product certified and are happy to accept that, if the trader says it is organic, then the product is probably “okay” to use. It is enough to be partially convinced, especially when they don’t know how to prove it one way or the other.
At a prominent market recently, Raithe observed one trader with the sign up “organic cotton babywear”. All of the babywear was brilliant white (optically brightened with fluorescent particles) and made in China with no labeling to attest to it’s organic status. This kind of practice is common.
The challenge for you as a consumer is to differentiate between those traders whose heart space lies in organics or Bio-Dynamics, and those who are cashing in on a trend. We hope this brief article will help you to make this distinction.