Do you get confused by some of the content listed on clothing tags and care labels? Just like food labels, there is so much to look for when reading clothing labels and tags. Similar to food labeling, there is required content that has to be listed on garment labels; of which can be quite confusing if you are not familiar with the labeling requirements. In this blog, I will discuss standard items you will see on labels along with what you should look for when looking for sustainable garments and natural fibered clothes.
To start, when reading the care label attached to a garment you will see the fabric content, garment size, wash/care instructions and then you will also see where the garment is made, who makes it, and possibly an RN# (also known as the maker or importer’s number) which is another way to track the garment to the business of the manufacturer, importer, distributor, or seller of the garment. You may also see all of this information written in multiple languages.
If you are looking for a more eco conscious garment, the main things to pay attention to on the care label would be the fabric content and where the garment was made. Look for fabrics such as hemp, organic cotton, linen, wool, silk, bamboo, tencel, modal, and (organic) soy; all of which are organic or natural fibers that are more sustainable for our environment and better for our health to wear.
Fibers such as Linen, Tencel and Modal are not clear what they are made from so you may not know that the garment is made from natural material when in fact it is. Fibers such as Linen (made from flax), Tencel (made from eucalyptus trees) or Modal (made from beechwood trees) are all respectively fabrics made from these natural resources.
All of these fabrics are a healthier option than their synthetic fibered counterparts such as polyester, and nylon which are all chemically derived.
Another fabric that you may now see listed on a lot of “eco-friendly” garments is recycled polyester. Recycled polyester is made from recycled plastic which may be better for the environment than regular polyester but from a health aspect, wearing polyester is not the best fiber for the health of the skin. Polyester is not a breathable fiber as compared to natural fibered clothes. It tends to trap our skin from its natural detoxification process and hold in heat to the body rather than regulating its normal and preferred temperature.
Beyond fabric content, where the garment is made is an important factor when looking for an eco friendly, sustainable, and pure fibered apparel. The textile and manufacturing regulations are much different from country to country. In places abroad such as China, restrictions of how many parts per million of chemicals, formaldehyde, heavy metals, etc are much more lenient than we have here in the States. Additionally, areas such as Bangladesh are notorious for unhealthy work conditions and unjust wages.
When shopping for a new garment, it is important to not just pay attention to the labels, but to do your research before you buy. Do you like the company’s message? Are the garments manufactured according to the standards that you would like? Is it a quality made garment that you will get your wear out of?
Read the garment hang tag and packaging information or go to the company’s website to learn more before you choose to buy. Knowledge is power and supporting products that resonate with you and contribute to your greater health and the health of the environment will make a big difference.
Note from the Author:
There are so many brands and products to choose from. We are inundated with so many options that it can be overwhelming. It helps to narrow down the selections by becoming an informed consumer before you buy. Learn about the product; where it is made, what it is made from, research the company that made it, etc. to be more connected to the merchandise you purchase and feel good about the companies you support. Vote with your dollars!
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