We LOVE helping people and we receive a lot of questions on Organic products and Organic Living. Here is one answered recently:
Since you have experience with organic material, do you have any comments on spandex being that it is a synthetic right?
How safe is spandex in regards to the “organic green era”? I was just wondering about your thoughts on this as I try to live a more “green lifestyle".
Thanks very much for your time and all of your information. I look forward to future business with your company.
The Organic Company's Answer:
There are companies out there, not many (most have gone out of business), but a couple who make underwear garments with no spandex or Lycra and we have tested and even sold a few brands in the past. While yes, it is best to have no synthetics in a garment, unfortunately it comes down to the public and what they prefer and are actually willing to pay money for. It comes down to more form, function, and design, than materials, and most people are willing to give up that 5 or so percent of synthetic that will make the garment more appealing visually and sometimes more comfy as well.
The garments we once sold that had no synthetics were returned more than half the time or if tried on in our store never bought to begin with. (For some reason most of these companies products looked like something only our grandparents would consider wearing.) After wearing certain clothes for 20 plus years that fit a certain way and hold to your body a certain way it's very hard for people to transition to clothing that is usually frumpier and that you would never want to actually be seen in.
Our best selling boxer shorts, mens briefs, tees and lounge pants are able to be 100% organic cotton because these items are supposed to have a looser fit and are cut and designed to still look nice. But when people try on a pair of socks that are 99.9% organic cotton and they keep falling down all the time they won't be happy.
The same can be said for the mens boxer briefs and most of the womens underwear that are supposed to stay put or cling to the persons body a certain way. If it helps to hold the garment in place and doesn't bunch up it's going to be more appealing to the mass public. Ultimately it's left up to the public and what they're willing to sacrifice. A little bit of synthetic is still more appealing and healthier than a non-organic garment that has pesticides, bleach, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and other finishing agents.
A lot of people care more about the fact that the organic cotton is used to make the fabric softer, has a much more positive effect on the earth and the workers on the farms and knowing that we only sell Fair Trade goods with no child labor.
The truth is every little bit helps. I know Sam's Club sells some socks that have only 8% organic cotton and at first thought it's like what's the point? The amount of chemicals in the sock won't be that much less, they are of course not Fair Trade at the price points they have, they may be a bit softer, but what is 8% really going to do? Well when you consider the magnitude of that 8% times every Sam's Club in America and how many they actually sell a day they are doing more for the earth in a month than we could hope to do by selling what we do in a year. It's still helping the earth and soil to some extent and the farmers, but has little effect on the final consumer. But ultimately it's up to the demands and wants of the consumers.
Unfortunately there is no government subsidizing of organic cotton or other fibers to keep the costs down and make the price of always buying organic feasible for most people. Organic cotton costs a lot more to grow and produce and the clothing actually has way less mark up to make a profit on, so the cost, especially if made using fair trade labor, is going to be higher. As long as garments are being made with organic cotton it's a benefit to everyone and the environment...whether it be 8% or 100%.
We feel the more organic the better of course and all of items we sell that are not blends with bamboo or hemp and excluding socks has at least 90% organic cotton. If a company makes products selling only 100% organic cotton and nobody want the product because it's not comfortable or looks too frumpy then they won't last long and in the end nobody benefits. Sometimes a person finally decides to buy their first organic piece of clothing and it just so happens to be a company like this and after trying it for the first time say they couldn't stand it or didn't like it and go around saying they don't like organic cotton and may choose to never buy it again.
We feel that 10 companies selling 95% organic cotton clothing and actually succeeding is better for everyone than 1 company selling 100% organic and failing. Hope that helps.
The Organic Company / Natural Selections / Organic Selections www.TheOrganicCompany.com