organic camisoles and panties

Canary’s dye-free, USA grown and milled organic cotton camisoles are pre-shrunk and sewn with 100% cotton thread.

large v lace fitted cami

This one has a v-neck trimmed with organic cotton lace, and fits close to the body. Find more details in the CanaryShop listing.

Match with panties in the same organic cotton jersey, these are hi-rise with a wide latex-free elastic waistband.

large hi rise panty OC (1)

large hi rise panty OC (2)

The leg opening is finished with a band of fabric (no elastic), stitched to stay flat with wearing and washing. They also come in lo-rise and bikini cuts. See more pictures and sizing info in the CanaryShop.

All Canary garments are hand-crafted in Canada, and fully machine washable.

the virtues of organic cotton

       

6oz V pearl LB w s (2)
canary 100% organic cotton camisole with organic cotton lace trim

Organic designation carries a lot of significance. It promises virtues that are tangible and desirable but generally invisible. Labelling claims range from legitimate to unregulated, creating a consumer landscape filled with a mix of reality, good intentions and greenwashing.

gotslogo          OEKO-TEX

Certifications like GOTS and Oeko-Tex apply to textiles. They are helpful for many reasons. Their guidelines are vast and continue to evolve. Consumers are responsible for knowing what they mean, including, for instance, that products can be certified which are not 100% organic, or even 100% natural fibres.

USDA_organic small        label_soil_association

To further complicate matters, some textiles also use food-oriented certification logos like USDA or OSA.

organic          organic-cotton-certified-

It’s also important to know that nothing prevents garment manufacturers from using generic logos like these, which can mean anything from “legitimately organic” to “buyer beware”.

organic_cotton_infographic - Copy

“The organic cotton difference”  post also shows some of the ways organic cotton differs from ‘conventional”. Because of various information campaigns, consumer interest, and adverse health effects, awareness of things like formaldehyde being routinely coated onto non-organic fabric is increasing.

HiddenToxins-Formaldehyde

It is rather incredible but hardly unbelievable to see labels like this:

wrinkle free organic

It’s not just the wrinkle-free fabrics that are saturated with toxins designed to never wash out. A 2015 Swedish study found that even organic cottons can contain problematic dyes and finishes, practices that pretty much negate the whole purpose of organic. This is not surprising, as many organic clothes are dyed, printed, and made in unregulated facilities that also produce non-organic goods.

In theory, “organic” is supposed to indicate less toxic processes from seed to fabric, and then, from fabric to finished garment.

Value-Chain-Analysis-of-the-Organic-Cotton-Industry-in-India

The two main advantages of organics are the same for both food and textiles: environmental impacts of production (including the health and well-being of workers), and health benefits for consumers who use the products. The Textile Exchange’s 2014 “Life Cycle Assessment of Organic Cotton Fibre” shows substantial differences in carbon footprint and water use in organic production.

LCA study

The health benefits of organic diet and farming were the focus of a 2017 Harvard School of Public Health report. Similar principles apply to textiles and clothing. While most textile research and initiatives focus on environmental concerns, like Greenpeace’s Toxic Threads campaign, others, like the Stockholm study, are about human health problems directly caused by toxins in clothes.

greenpeace_toxic_threads_cover

Given the large number of substances and variables involved, it’s practically impossible to quantify the total health effects of clothing. The most measurable are different kinds of contact allergy reactions to textiles, found mostly in occupational statistics and journal articles like this one from 2015.

586636-fig1

Anecdotally, textile dermatitis is on the rise, and often misdiagnosed or dismissed. My own dye allergy was incorrectly assessed at first, and eventually diagnosed as one of the worst ever seen by a dermatologist who also works at a prominent occupational health clinic. One upside of this debilitating condition was having the ability to make my own clothes, which I combined with a longtime interest in organic fibres and environmental impacts of textile production to make the Canary brand.

organic-cotton

With organic clothing not always being accessible or practical for everyone, focusing on inner layers next to the skin is the best way to get its health benefits. Canary’s undergarments have the added virtue of being dye-free, and being sewn (by me) in a chemical-free workshop with all-cotton thread. It is a non-pharmaceutical prescription for my allergies to create clothing with these beautiful and pure materials.

shop 4

canary branch

canary loves hemp

All of the camisoles and undershorts in the CanaryShop on Etsy are available in 55% hemp – 45% organic cotton jersey, as well as 100% USA organic cotton.

hemp group

Canary’s hemp/organic cotton jersey is a soft and durable fabric with beautiful drape.

new pics 2 (3)

The many benefits of using hemp begin with cultivation, which takes less water and gives higher yields than any other fibre. It is naturally pest and weed-resistant, requiring no herbicides. Made into fabric, it is strong, heat resistant, has anti-bacterial properties and repels moisture.

hemp_crop_in_peasenhall_road_walpole_-_geograph-org-uk
hemp crop in Walpole, UK.

Hemp is grown in many countries, including the UK, France, all over Eastern Europe, Asia and Canada, where in 2015, over 84,000 acres of land were licensed for hemp. In 2014, Canadian hemp seed and oil exports alone were $48 million, which was increasing by at least 50% into 2015 recordkeeping. In spite of the volume of growing in Canada, there are no textile processing facilities, and 100% of hemp fabric is imported.

hemp-crop-photo
all you’ll get from smoking these hemp plants is a headache

Hemp has numerous uses besides textiles and food. Hempcrete is used in construction and for insulation. There’s many personal care applications, and other industrial products like hemp paper.

hemp-chart.png
from realhemp.com

There’s a big lobby on to legalize growing industrial hemp in the USA.

hemp-spinning
spinning hemp into yarn

Hemp is historic technology that actually has a future. If North American hemp fabric is ever available, Canary clothes will be made from it.

canary_with_hemp_leaf

synthetic clothes are filling the oceans with plastic

Today, a CBC News story says the UN International Maritime Organization is reporting microplastics being present in supermarket seafood. Not exactly a surprise. Plastic pollution in oceans and lakes is fast becoming a lot more than sad pictures of animals with plastic rings around their necks.

2014-12-14t23-47-22-766z-1280x720

The polluting effects of textile and clothing production is an elephant in the room that has been largely ignored, and microplastics are one of the problems, coming not just from factories, but from the wastewater from your own washer. Studies and articles about the microfibre residue from washing synthetic fleece and other synthetic clothing have had almost no effect in addressing this problem. Plastic microbeads found in body care products have gotten much more attention and bans are pending in several countries, including Canada, but not until mid 2018.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation published an article in National Geographic last year, with a map showing the highest concentrations of microplastics on shorelines.

In The Guardian, ecologist Mark Browne discusses how 85% of the human-made material found on shorelines were microplastics linked to synthetic clothing. Here’s some microfibres collected in the Gulf of Maine:

Browne also describes the almost complete lack of interest from clothing manufacturers in addressing the problem, including many greenwashers who tout themselves as “industry detoxers”. Clothing made from recycled plastic is being marketed as “eco-friendly” and “earth saving” by companies too numerous to list.

bottles-into-shirt

While recycling is good, recycled plastic clothes, and plastics in general, are not. In the CBC article, University of Toronto ecologist Chelsea Rochman says, “It has infiltrated every level of the food chain in marine environments and likely fresh water, and so now we’re seeing it come back to us on our dinner plates.” (not mine, as I do not eat fish) Nothing is immune. “Microplastics have been found in oysters and other mollusks both in field research and retail outlets.”

microbeads-002

A Canadian Geographic article cites several studies, including one from Norway, where it was recently reported that scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research had determined that outdoor clothing such as fleece jackets and Gore-Tex clothing was the biggest source of the more than 100 million particles of microplastic being deposited via wastewater into the fiord at Longyearbyen, a community of 2,000 on the island of Svalbard. One sample from Adventfjorden shows a clam containing plastic microfibres:

Another study was done by a team from the Vancouver Aquarium. In 2015, they showed microplastics were widely distributed in British Columbia’s coastal waters, and that the tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimetres in size had entered the marine food chain through zooplankton, a vital source of food for fish and other marine mammal species. Here’s a tiny plankton that has consumed microplastic.

“This basically told us that humans living in coastal environments are releasing thousands of microplastics through their laundry and waste water,” said Peter Ross, director of the aquarium’s ocean pollution research program. “The problem is world-wide from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and it’s far more extensive than we imagined.”

One solution to this problem is to wear clothing made of organic, natural fibres. Not only is it far less environmentally harmful, from cultivation to processing, anything shed during washing will biodegrade. Another good move is to filter particles from your wastewater.

yellow-canary-beach

the beauty of hemp

Hemp fabric has made a big comeback in recent years. The most historical of fibres, grown and worn all over the world, over time it was replaced, or banned, or both.

Currently, the industrial cannabis sativa l. plant that hemp fabric and other products is made from is banned in the US. Significant amounts are grown legally in Canada, but we lack fabric production facilities so the crops are used in other ways, and exported.

Hemp field in Manitoba
Hemp field in Manitoba

Most hemp fabric in North American garments is made in China or Eastern Europe.

hat-sewing

Hemp has numerous benefits. I love sewing it, and wearing it. It is the most eco-friendly fibre around.

the organic cotton difference

The Basics of Organic Versus Conventional Cotton Textile Production

 organic conventional
Natural, untreated GMO free seeds. Typically GMO seeds, treated with fungicides and/or insecticides.
Healthy soil through crop rotation. Increased organic matter retains moisture in soil. Synthetic fertilizers, loss of soil due to mono-crop culture and intensive irrigation.
Healthy soil creates natural balance. Beneficial insects and trap crops used. Aerial spraying of insecticides and pesticides. Considered “the world’s dirtiest crop”
Natural defoliation from freezing temperatures or through the use of water management for harvesting. Harvesting defoliation induced with toxic chemicals.
For production, fibers stabilized using double-plying or cornstarch. Warp fibers stabilized using toxic waxes.
Whitening with peroxide. Whitening with chlorine bleach
Finished with soft scour in warm water with soda ash, for a pH of 7.5 to 8. Finished with hot water, synthetic surfactants, additional chemicals including formaldehyde.
Fair trade labour standards. No labour standards.

Harvest Picnic 2015

IMG_00005383

The first outing was great. Many nice vendors and visitors.

IMG_00005388

The hats were popular. It was so nice seeing people wear them!

IMG_00005403

Everyone was interested in the Raymond machine, many with stories about grandmothers using treadle machines, or having one at home, or seeing one at a yard sale for 25.00.