When thinking of clothing that does not harm the environment it is important to make a distinction between organic clothing and sustainable clothing. Organic clothing is made without the use of toxic pesticides or herbicides at the farm level, and no toxic products in its manufacturing process – including dyeing.

This high standard is actually certified by certain agencies so that the consumer can be absolutely sure that they are buying eco-friendly goods. This certification is done by the Organic Trade Association who has set strict rules and regulations for every part of the growing and manufacturing process, from processing the fibres to how the product is handled at every stage. So to find out if your clothing is organic or simply sustainable, look at the tag. It should not be labelled organic unless it can be proven to have missed all those poisons.

Organic cotton is one of the most popular fabrics and demand for it keeps on growing. All kinds of products can be made from organic cotton, not just clothing. Bed linen, disposable nappies and personal care items are all made from organic cotton.

Hemp, silk and wool all come in organic varieties, with hemp strands often being mixed with other soft fibres such as silk or cotton to improve its quality. Hemp particularly is an eco-friendly solution for farmers because it can be grown without much water and is virtually pest-free. It is used in making skin-care products and paper, as well as clothing.

Sustainable clothing, on the other hand, may be just as eco-friendly, but it has not been certified. Therefore the consumer cannot be sure that the process has not been compromised somewhere along the way. Sustainable clothing – as against organic clothing – is often made from either recycled plastic containers – called POP fabric due to the soda pop bottles that are used, or wood pulp that gives us a fabric called Tencel.

Another popular choice is bamboo, since that is a renewable resource that can be farmed without additives of chemical or pesticides. Bamboo is favoured for sports clothing because of its wicking properties that keeps moisture away from the skin. Clothing made from bamboo is particularly soft against the skin, but also wears well.

Most organic and sustainable clothing can be washed by machine, but there is some that must be either hand-washed or dry-cleaned. Checking the tag will tell you how to care for it. If you choose to buy dry-cleanable clothing, you may want to look for a dry-cleaner who uses CO2 based dry cleaning or steam, rather than those products that are known to be carcinogens.

Mel also writes about carbon reduction and sustainable living for people passionate about the environment and looking for new ways to minimize their carbon footprint