Made in Turkey

I may not be down with made in China, but it seems made in Turkey is getting better everyday. A giant Turkish textile mill, Bossa, which supplies brands like H&M, Calvin Klein, Habitual and Nudie Jeans with organic cotton and denim is expanding its eco-friendly operations. It’s investing like crazy to make organics 10% of its total production and will start including fabrics from linen, hemp, soybean and wool.

I actually always notice that H&M’s organic clothing is generally (or possibly always) made in Turkey, as is some of their conventional clothing as well.

What’s interesting is it seems that Turkish mills acknowledge that they can’t keep up with India and China in terms of price, so they’re consciously trying to cater to higher aesthetic and moral values to give them a leg up — or at least a place to stand. I’ll take that. While I don’t think “green” is about shopping, I think it’s promising that “eco-friendly” is becoming a strong enough value on which even huge, global operations can begin to stand on in a real way. It’s even more promising that that these mills can carve out an environmentally and economically sustainable niche against the almighty price signal delivered so powerfully by the often irresponsible textile production practices in both India and China. It’s as though in the clamor to prove that just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better, we forgot that if it’s really cheap it’s probably for a reason…

Aside from the labor concerns across the developing world, there are some interesting facts I found that really drive home how destructive conventional cotton production can be not only to the environment, but to human health. These can probably transcend cotton production into many realms of manufacturing.

  1. In the United States, 25% of all pesticides used are applied to cotton.
  2. Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are cancer-causing chemicals (cyanazine, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin).
  3. In India, 91% of male cotton farm workers regularly exposed to pesticides eight hours or more per day experience some type of health disorder, including chromosomal aberrations, cell death and cell decay

Too bad all of these negative externalities, like pollution, environmental injustice upon the globe’s poor, and the true costs of transport are still just that: external, and not factored into the price. Somehow it’s the organic stuff that’s more expensive.  Damn economies of scale.

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