| Q: Why organic?
A: Our choices impact the health of this place we call home. Organic farming practices:
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- Keep millions of pounds of chemicals out of the environment
- Create healthier working conditions for farmers and agricultural workers
- Do not depend on chemical pesticides (poisons), synthetic fertilizers, or genetically engineered ingredients
- Reduce global warming. Organic farms pull CO2 out of the atmosphere as much as three times the rate of conventional farming practices and releases less CO2 into the atmosphere because it does not rely on chemical fertilizers and herbicides (Rodale Institute, 2008)
- Promote bio-diversity. Insect and bird life has been found to be as much as 50% greater on organic farms than conventional farms (UK Soil Association, 2000)
- Demonstrates your commitment to social and environmental responsibility
Q: What is organic farming?
A: The term organic describes a method of farming without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering, and are certified by an accredited independent organization. It is a system of farming that strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials that are of low impact to the environment (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: What are the government standards established for organic farming production?
A: The US the standard is the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The EU standard is the EEC 2092/2091. The Japanese standard is JAS. India and Australia also have organic standards (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008). .
Q: Who certifies farms to organic standards?
A: Certification is done by independent, third party certifiers accredited to the standards being certified against (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: What are the steps to becoming a certified farm?
A:Submit application to accredited independent 3rd party certifier
- Develop Farm Plan for Ecosystem Management
- Develop an Internal Control System, includes record keeping
- Annual Inspections by certifier
- Transition period of 2-3 years depending on standard
(Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: What are the differences between organic and conventional farming?
A: The major differences are in the following categories: seeds, weed control, soil and water and harvest practice. Organic agricultural practices prohibit the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified seeds (GMO seeds). For more information, check out the Organic Exchange Symbiosis booklet (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: What proportion of the agricultural chemicals are used to support conventional farming practices for cotton?
A: Conventionally grown cotton consumes 25% of the insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides used in the world (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: What is the estimated amount of agrochemicals used to produce a single cotton t-shirt?
A: According to the USDA 2007 usage data, .00544 pounds of pesticides is used to grow one pound of conventionally grown U.S. cotton. When 2005 synthetic fertilizer usage (nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulfur) is included in the calculation then the combines synthetic fertilizer and pesticide usage is .179 pounds per pound of conventionally grown cotton. For example, a 9 oz cotton tee shirt could use as much as 2.85 oz of chemical inputs to cultivate the fiber needed to produce the average conventional cotton tee shirt, or about 1/3 of the weight of the shirt.
Q: How does organic farming support bio-diversity?
A: Through crop rotation, promotion of soil health, and through an absence of agriculture chemicals that effect the ability of wild life and insects around the farm to thrive (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: Which countries produce the most organic cotton globally?
A: In 2008, the top five organic cotton producing countries were India (51%), Syria (19%), Turkey (17%), China (5%), and Tanzania (2%). Altogether, these five countries represent 94 percent of the world's organic cotton production (Source: Organic Exchange: Organic Cotton Market Report, 2008).
Q: Where can I get details about global organic cotton production?
A: Today there many of organizations working to educate people about the benefits of organic agricultural methods in an effort to promote the growth of organics globally. Here are a few of the sites we recommend visiting to learn more:
Organic Exchange: www.organicexchange.org
Organic Farming Research Foundation: www.ofrf.org
Organic Trade Associate: www.ota.com
Pesticide Action Network: www.panna.org
Rodale Institute: www.rodaleinstitute.org
The Organic Center: www.organic-center.org
Q: Where can I learn more about organic farming projects?
A: Please see our publication Sowing the Seeds of Change (Source: Organic Trade Association, 2008).
Q: Where does your cotton come from?
A: Our current production uses fibers mostly from Turkey and India. Turkey has been the worlds largest grower of organic cotton, but soon India will be the world leader in cotton cultivation.
Q: Where are your products made?
A: We make our products in Mexico, Pakistan, and China (hats mostly).
Q: Why does Econscious manufacture in Mexico, Pakistan, and China?
A: We carefully choose our production locations based on the quality and market parameters required to meet the needs of our customers. In these locations we are able to manufacture according to the highest international standards of social, environmental and organic compliance while offering a finished product that makes economic sense for all parties
Q: Why aren't the products made in the USA?
A: While we would like to produce in the USA, at this time we're unable to secure US fiber, spin yarn in the US, and manufacture at a price and quality level that satisfies market needs.
Q: Who certifies your cotton?
A: Our cotton fiber is certified by Control Union (formerly known as SKAL) as well as other certification bodies recognized by the USDA NOP. Our yarn is handled in accordance with, and certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Q: Why are Econscious basic tee prices higher than some other organic tee shirt vendors?
A: There is not an apples-to-apples comparison possible at this time. Our tee shirts are not actually 'basic'. Our shirts have top-stitching details, spandex in the neck rib to maintain shape, and are washed with GMO free enzymes to create a very soft hand-feel. All these quality decisions make our tee shirt superior. For the price conscious promotional customer we now offer a Value Tee that is an excellent product at a reduced price.
Q: Why is recycled polyester used in the sweatshirt?
A: All product definition decisions are based on quality. Polyester content means increased fabric stability, reduced shrinkage and soft fleece in the inside. All current production uses post-consumer recycled polyester. In fact, the average Men's Zip Hoody, style 5680, in size large uses the equivalent of four 20 oz soda bottles in its production.
Q: Why do you use brass to make your zippers and clasps?
A: Because brass does not have to be plated, the manufacturing process has a smaller environmental impact as compared to other options. We are continuously researching materials in an effort to find the most sustainable options.
Q: Why doesnt econscious use bamboo fabric (viscose rayon)?
A: The complex process of chemically breaking down cellulose pulp to form regenerated cellulose fiber, or rayon, results in a great deal of environmental pollution. In addition, waste-gas emissions from the xanthation process and waste-water emissions associated with the wet spinning bath are of particular concern because of the health risks associated with the process. To learn more click here.
Econscious will not use bamboo fabric until we are able to verify that the production methods being employed are environmentally responsible.
Q: What are the working conditions in your factories?
A: Factories we work with must agree to comply with and actively engage in upholding the Econscious Workplace Code of Conduct which addresses important social compliance standards designed to ensure a safe and hygienic workplace is provided.
We’ve worked with most of our factories since our inception and have made regular visits to our production locations an essential part of the way we conduct our business. This allows us to assess workplace conditions first hand. We also employ independent third party agencies to conduct regular on-site inspections.
These long standing relationships have allowed us to build partnerships based on trust and our shared goals. We believe if we thrive so will our partners and vice-versa.
Q: What is the most environmentally low impact way to screen print apparel?
A: At Econscious we get daily questions and inquiries about the best ways to imprint Organic cotton T-shirts keeping the environmental impact in mind. We have been recommending water based inks but wanted to have someone independent and someone that knows environmental chemistry take a look at the print systems that are available on the market today. To help us with this we turned to our friends at Brown and Williams Environmental LLC and asked them to survey the existing ink technologies on the market. To read about their findings click here.
Q: Why Focus on “Sustainable” Textiles?
- Textile waste occupies nearly five percent of all landfill space.
- One million tons of textiles will end up in landfills every year.
- 20 percent of industrial fresh water pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing.
- In 2009, the world used three trillion gallons of fresh water to produce 60 billion kilograms of fabric.
- It takes 700 gallons of fresh water to make one cotton T-shirt.
- One trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the global textile industry, which equates to 10 percent of global carbon impact.
(Source: Global Report Market Report on Sustainable Textile, Textile Exchange 2010)