By Sanna Rasmussen
Fashion is the second most polluting industry on the planet, after the oil industry. This astonishing fact can be explained, because many of the garments in our closets are made from synthetic fibers and synthetic chemical dyes, better known as, petroleum derivatives. We rarely associate clothing with oil, but in fact, every man made fiber of clothing starts as petroleum, therefore feeding into the global pollution caused by the oil industry. With this information, it is no surprise that the fashion industry follows oil in levels of pollution, as there are an unimaginable number of garments produced around the world every day. What is even more startling, is that these synthetically produced garments will never decompose, adding to the vast amounts of non-recyclable material already occupying landfills around the world.
The Caring Cotton is a start-up located in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, that acts as a bridge between artisanal Indian textile handcraft practices and fashion designers around the world. Working with high quality natural fibers and natural dyes, The Caring Cotton is making sustainability in the fashion industry globally accessible.
In 2011, the idea for The Caring Cotton was conceived by Ruby and Erik, in Barcelona, Spain. The couple behind the brand, were living in Spain, and saw the lack of understanding Western designers had between natural and synthetic dyes. Ruby, a fashion designer, had developed a passion for natural dyes while working in Auroville for over ten years. She knew that she could bring high quality textiles made with natural fibers and dyes to the European market, while also informing her clients of all the benefits offered by choosing natural over synthetic. For instance, the skin is our bodies largest organ, and functions by absorbing what we put on it. That includes our clothing. Our skin absorbs the chemicals used in the synthetic dyeing process, even after the garment is washed numerous times. An environmental problem that arises from wearing synthetic garments, is that when they are washed, microplastics are extracted from the clothing and enter into the water discarded by the washing machine, which ultimately ends up in oceans and rivers. These microplastics are then ingested by microorganisms, then small fish, and ultimately by consumers eating fish and other marine life.
Overall, the production and consumption of cheap, synthetic clothing is not a sustainable option for our planet. The Caring Cotton works to address this issue by advocating for a slower fashion cycle, and supporting textile mills and dyers who are adjusting their methods to more sustainable options. The Caring Cotton currently sells organic cotton yarns, undyed fabrics, natural dyed fabrics, sustainably dyed fabrics (low impact chemical dyes), and offers to connect global designers with garment production in India. From Ruby’s 15 years’ experience in the Indian textile industry, she has personally vetted every step of her supply chain, including factories and warehouses, and guarantees that every employee involved is treated and paid fairly. Furthermore, every aspect of the supply chain is located within the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and is regularly visited by Ruby and her partner.
The Caring Cotton officially launched in August 2018, after Ruby attended Texworld in New York City, NY, a global textile fair where producers and suppliers can connect with designers and fashion houses. Since August, The Caring Cotton has received numerous inquiries about their sustainable textiles, and is using this momentum to further establish their goals as a fashion supplier within the climate of fast fashion. As consumers are starting to demand fashion brands to provide traceability of their clothing, fashion brands, in turn, are beginning to reach out of those who can provide them with quality, natural, fair trade textiles. The Caring Cotton is providing just that; quality textiles with an emphasis on doing good for people and planet.
Picture Credit: thecaringcotton.com