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Clothing company considers environment

"[Conventional] cotton is one of the most toxic crops."
--Chris Treter
OCA Clothes for a change coordinator


Gabriel Monte
North Texas Daily
Staff Writer
July 17, 2003

American Apparel, a T-shirt manufacturer based in California, plans introduce
its new line of shirts called The Sustainable Edition T, which is made of
organically-combined cotton.
The Sustainable Edition T is the company's latest step to a more
environmentally and socially conscious line of clothing.

American Apparel has always been dedicated to socially responsible business
practices, such as paying living wages; now, with the support and cooperation
of the Organic Consumers Association [OCA], the company is setting its sights
on environmental responsibility.

Currently, Nike is the largest clothing manufacturer that has adopted the
organic fabrics into their inventory.

However, said Chris Treter, OCA Clothes for a Change coordinator, the athletic

apparel manufacturer imports its organic fabrics from Third World countries
such as Pakistan and Turkey.

Treter said this method is less expensive for processing and infrastructure.

Working closely with American Apparel, Treter plans to localize the production

of organic cotton on a large scale and predicted that in three years, the
company will surpass Nike as the largest source of organic cotton in the
country.

If successful, Treter hopes to encourage more farmers to switch to organic
cotton, which is a more environmentally-friendly product than conventional
cotton.

"[Conventional] cotton is one of the most toxic crops," he said, adding that
conventional cotton is the second most heavily sprayed crop, using 25 percent
of the world's pesticides.

The pesticides seep into the water system, which affects surrounding
ecosystems and has been linked to increased cancer cases.

Organic cotton, on the other hand, is cultivated using different farming
techniques to deter pests and prevent poisoning the land. Though more hard
work is involved with organic cotton, it brings the farmers more profit than
conventional cotton does.

Right now, American Apparel buys yarn spun from transitional organic cotton
harvested in the San Juaqin Valley in California, said Dov Charney, American
Apparel senior partner.

Transitional cotton is organic cotton made by farmers who are phasing out
pesticide use.

It is a three-year phase during which the farm is monitored for chemicals in
the soil and after which the cotton is considered pure organic.

Charney and Treter both plan that in four years, 80 percent of American
Apparel's products will consist of organic cotton.

Some NT students, including Plano senior Rachel McMahon, are doubtful that
demand for organic clothing would pick up soon.

"I don't think people are aware of pesticides used in clothes and fabrics, so
I don't think there would be a demand for organic clothing," McMahon, a
general science major, said.

Treter hopes that this move will start an environmental consciousness in the
fashion industry and increase consumer demand for organically-grown products.

"As soon as consumers are aware of the negative impact of conventional
agriculture,consumers will go to organic products," Treter said.

Rumana Rahman, business economics sophomore from Bangladesh, India said that
as long as organic clothing is cost-effective and environmentally-friendly,
its demand will increase.


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