When it comes to the food we choose to eat at our home, we opt for organically grown and minimally processed foods, because we not only value the work of organic farmers and want to support them, but also because we know that when it comes to the things we put inside our bodies, we want to avoid pesticide residues and get the highest nutritional value from our food.
When it comes to clothing and housewares, however, the reasons for choosing organic and Fair Trade goods aren’t nearly as clear or as direct as it is with food, because we don’t eat textiles and apparel, and any potentially toxic pesticide or herbicide residues aren’t really an issue by the time it gets to our door.
Having said that, I’m still in favor of choosing organically grown and naturally processed fibers when possible, and of supporting companies that source their materials and products from Fair Trade suppliers, for a couple of good reasons.
Conventionally grown cotton is considered to be one of the dirtiest crops we have, because producing it requires large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, both of which contribute to air and water pollution, as well as affect the health of those who grow this popular fiber. In fact, according to the WWF, cotton is planted on just 2.4% of the world’s arable land, yet is responsible for up to 25% of the world’s insecticide use, and has been linked to deteriorating ecosystems in many places where it is grown. Essentially, while choosing organic cotton may not be better for your body, it sure is better for the planet in general.
Fair Trade goods, which are made by workers who are paid a living wage and who enjoy decent working conditions, can also have a positive, yet indirect, effect on the communities where they are made. While Fair Trade coffee and chocolate (and more recently, bananas and sugar) are more widely known, Fair Trade textiles – apparel and housewares – are also available, and the demand for those items helps to keep production up in those industries, as well as to support the production of more ethically-sourced goods.
If the triple bottom line is important to you, with its emphasis on not just profits, but also the planet and the people who make the goods, then the new line of Fair Trade organic cotton towels from Coyuchi might be of interest the next time you’re in the market for linens or bath accessories. Coyuchi’s Air Weight Towel Collection is the first-ever Fair Trade Certified towel collection available in North America, and offers a lightweight absorbent towel in a range of earth-inspired colors.
I got a chance to check out one of these Coyuchi towels recently, and can testify that not only are they beautiful and soft and well made, but they’re also incredibly “thirsty” when it comes to drying you off and soaking up water. The collection is all made from 100% organic cotton, and is sourced and woven in India, where the products have earned a Fair Trade Certified badge (from Fair Trade USA), as well as adhering to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is considered to be the toughest organic textile standard in the world.
“Coyuchi brings the inherent beauty of natural materials into your home. We design all of our products with reverence for the planet—using only natural fibers, sourcing our materials carefully and processing them minimally—so our cotton truly feels like cotton, our linen feels like linen, our wool feels like wool.”
The Coyuchi Air Weight Towel Collection includes a variety of sizes, from wash cloths to hand towels to bath sheets, and 12 colors “drawn from earth, water and sky.” Coyuchi also sells a wide range of natural and organic bedding, table linens, rugs, and nursery products, all of which conform to the company’s mission of supplying sustainable home furnishings. And right now, Coyuchi is running an Earth Day sale, with 20% off of select items through April 22nd.
[Disclosure: I received a towel from Coyuchi, but all opinions here are mine alone.]