Organic clothing blog

Via Treehugger comes word of Organic_Clothing, a blog from Shellie and Michael Lackman, retail owners of Lotus Organics. One post I found of interest was Bad Shipping News which detailed the requirement that wooden shipping containers be treated with methyl bromide, a known carcinogen:

The U.S. Customs and Border Protect Agency (CBP) requires that all wood packing materials such as pallets, crates and boxes used for shipments being imported into the United States be heat treated to a minimum wood core temperature of 56 degrees Celsius (132.8 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes or be fumigated with methyl bromide. Of course, fumigating with nasty methyl bromide is the preferred method and far easier than putting wood crates and pallets in a huge oven to be heated to 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Wood is used to help transport 70 percent of cargo shipped around the world so this requirement has significant impact on global shipping.

With regards to this:

Here’s another one of these nasty and unhealthy little secrets that surround global clothing manufacturing. Natural fibers can be grown organically and garments can then be manufactured according to emerging organic guidelines but when the garments are shipped internationally from the garment manufacturer to a distributor or retailer, the garments might become tainted during shipping from pesticides intended to prevent insects, rodents, fungi, nematodes, and various disease causing organisms from accidentally being imported in the shipping materials along with that beautiful organic cotton shirt or merino wool jacket. The most likely culprit in the lineup of usual suspects is Methyl Bromide – aka MeBr, MB, bromomethane, Brom-o-Gask Embafume, Haltox and Zytox.

…I’d suggest that this is yet another reason one doesn’t need to use off-shore resources and facilities. Sustainable and responsible manufacturing starts at home.

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  1. Mike C says:

    …I’d suggest that this is yet another reason one doesn’t need to use off-shore resources and facilities. Sustainable and responsible manufacturing starts at home.

    Based on our experiences in our particular segment of the industry (stretch knits, active wear), moving a significant amount of sourcing and/or production offshore is the only option for designers (especially if they don’t wish to do their own manufacturing).

    There are still mills and contractors that work in our type of goods, but the only rationale that explains their curious behavior in our interactions with them is that they have simply given up and decided to allow themselves to slowly go out of business.

  2. Big Irv says:

    I think the biggest reason why such massive amounts of garment production has moved offshore
    is that the consumer is demanding the lowest prices for clothing. The largest cost component on most garments is the labor. Hourly wages in China and other parts of Asia are roughly 15-20 cents per hour. Very difficult to compete with that.
    Many will argue that the inflexible attitudes of the yarn suppliers right through to the contractors themselves are the root of the problem. To a certain extent this has been true. And there are alot of “dimwit” contractors that have fueled this argument too. I honestly see some trying to “right” the situation, but the damage is severe.
    Competing against a nations low cost labour pools is not much fun at all.

    This low cost mentality hasn’t hurt food manufacturing/processing much though.
    Big Irv

  3. Mike C says:

    I’m speaking specifically about US based companies, who often cannot be bothered to answer the phone, return messages, provide bids, or fulfil their orders.

    In the two and a half years we’ve been in business, I’ve heard from more contractors in Canada who wanted to win our business than I have from the US. Considering the difference in population, that’s damn remarkable.

  4. Big Irv says:

    The USA is Canada’s largest trading partner. Eighty per cent of all our exports are destined for the US. As it pertains to the garment industry, the removal of Chinese quota here in 2005, resulted in many Canadian clothing brands shifting significant amounts of domestic production offshore. This has forced many factories in Canada to look south of the border to secure new orders. Without this additional business, many factories will be forced to close or scale down their operations. Our infastructure is ideally setup to service small to midsize garment companies in the US and worldwide. We need to use our geographical advantages wisely.
    It is sometimes difficult to dispel skepticism that some have when investigating sourcing in Canada. Usually after the first production order is completed and sent out as ordered, the relationship is allowed to develop and any concerns are lessened.
    I have heard that US based companies sourcing here already, aim to keep Canada their “little secret” for fear of a “gold rush ” mentality on our resources. We certainly have our capacities, but we have a very viable mature industry capable of expanding, in response to global changes.
    Big Irv

  5. Dave says:

    The Canadian Apparel Federation, of which Kathleen provides a link to, has a comprehensive list of resources for people looking to manufacture in Canada. And the information contained on their database is only a fraction of what is available. The CAF have been critcized for not proactively promoting Canadian manufacturing services to US companies, choosing to focus and support Canadian brands instead. This policy, combined with CDN companies shifting
    substantial production offshore in 2005, has resulted in some factories closing and a temporary slowdown in garment manufacturing in Canada. The skilled workforce is in place, waiting for the exposure that US companies need to
    see Canada as a sourcing destination.
    Perhaps the newly elected Canadian Government will see the importance of creating more textile industry jobs and giving American clothing companies a solid alternative.

  6. Hi:
    I just checked out the Fashion Incubator website.

    I design some fabulous leather purses, matching reversible belts, clothing and jewelry and would love any pointers and suggestions on how to get the word out about my one of a kind and limited edition work.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    • Alison Cummins says:

      For how to run a sewn products business: buy The Book (linked on this page) and join the forum.

      For marketing and PR: search both the blog and the forum for “Miracle.” (MIracle Wanzo is always right. Listen to her.)

  7. Paul Irvine says:

    Hi and hello,

    I’ve stumbled upon the Fashion Incubator site and I’ve been reading a lot of interesting entries.

    I have my own site and I specialise in pure organic Alpaca wears from Bolivia in South America. My business is Alpaca Merchant.

    Looking forward to discovering more hidden gems and fashion secrets on the Fashion Incubator.

  8. Dani says:

    Another dirty little secret is that fruits and vegetables grown organically outside the US are sprayed by pesticides before they enter the US to ensure no bugs come over with them. Buy local organic produce if possible.

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