Unlike, food and personal care products, there aren't any U.S. or global standards for organic textiles. Although natural fibers that come from animals and plants can be certified ‘organic’ by the USDA, those fibers undergo numerous processes to create textiles, or materials, that will be used to make clothes.
A number of harsh chemicals are used to weave, clean, dye and finish materials. This makes it difficult to deem clothing organic whether or not the original fibers were in fact from organic sources. However, many organizations around the world and in San Francisco are now attempting to create global standards for what may be labeled organic clothing.
OTA Organic Clothing Standards in San Francisco & the U.S.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) in america has made great strides in establishing 4 levels for organic clothing labeling.
100% Organic – all materials used are grown organically, even the threads. All processes used comply with the OTA standards.
Organic – A minimum of 95% organically grown fibers used and all processes follow the OTA standards.
Made with Organic (specific fiber products) – At least 70% of the fibers used were organically grown.
Less 70% Organically Produced - The garment may or may not have some organic fiber content. May be manufactured using processes that don’t stick to the OTA standards.
Organic Clothing Materials
The fibers used in materials are basically the only thing that is currently certified organic in clothing. Organic clothing comes in many different materials. Just how many materials may surprise people. Below are examples of materials that can be organically harvested to create organic clothing.
Where to Find Organic Clothing in San Francisco, CA
Luckily, organic clothing has become more common in San Francisco recently and the availability has improved greatly. Now, you can get organic clothing almost anywhere in the U.S.
Online – The internet is probably your best resource for finding organic clothing providers, both locally and all over the world. There are a number of websites that sell organic clothing and cover trends within the organic clothing industry.
Farmers markets in San Francisco – Farmers markets aren’t just for people looking for organic foods. You can also get eco-friendly products that support sustainability. Bonus: you’ll be supporting your local economy.
San Francisco retail stores – Organic clothing has become so popular in San Francisco that even major chains like Wal-Mart are selling affordable options. Other retailers that typically sell organic clothes include Target, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Bloomingdales and many more.
Check the labels to make sure the garment really is organic and to what degree. It also helps to research manufacturers to learn about the processes they normally use to make their organic clothing, because as you now know there's far more to take into account than the fabric.