Mosaik Eco Studio is founded on the idea that wearing clothes should not wear the planet. This is why we have chosen the difficult but also rewarding path of working with organically grown cotton.
Clothes are sewn with textiles, and they come from a variety of sources. For centuries people have used natural materials such as wool, hemp and flax besides cotton. Later, artificial oil-based textiles such as polyester and nylon were introduced, and recently we have seen alternative textiles made from bamboo and pineapple!
The search for more eco-friendly materials is positive and inspiring, and Mosaik follows the development closely.
When it comes to underwear, which is Mosaik’s speciality, bamboo viscose is particularly interesting. Bamboo makes a super soft, comfortable fabric, and the plant has two huge advantages compared with cotton. It requires much less land and much, much less water to grow.
However, bamboo is a hard plant as anyone who has seen it will know. To make such a hard plant soft enough to function as comfortable bras or panties, it needs to be washed in chemicals. So the gain on the production side seems to be lost on the treatment side – worst case, the toxic pollution does more harm than the high water consumption in cotton cultivation. But good people and clever scientists are working on solving the problem with toxic chemicals in viscose production, and Mosaik follows that development too. For now, since Mosaik’s clothes are mostly made with cotton fibres, when we talk about sustainable clothing we tell the organic cotton story.
Here it comes.
One of the ecological problems with cotton cultivation is that the plant needs a large amount of water. One kilogram conventionally grown cotton, ready to be made into fabric, has used at around 20,000 litres of water. That’s how much water an average household in India, the main cotton producing country, uses in 50 days. When India exports cotton, they export water – a precious and increasingly scarce resource. Organically cultivated cotton uses water more efficiently and therefore uses much less. This is for two reasons, one being that organic cotton doesn’t need as much artificial irrigation but relies more on rainwater. Also, in organic agriculture they never grow only one crop in the same field for two consecutive years. They rotate crops to other fields and / or grow several crops at the same time in one field. These methods simply make soil that holds the water much better and therefore demands less irrigation.
Also when it comes to chemicals, organic does much better than conventional produced cotton. Whereas most of the world’s cotton is produced with a wide range of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, and defoliants, some of which are highly toxic, organic cotton production uses zero harmful chemicals. Again this is possible because of the diversity of crops in the field and the better soil quality. But also because weeds are removed manually and the cotton is not harvested until the seasonal frost defoliates it naturally.
A fifth factor is the cotton seeds. Organic growers use seeds that are naturally accustomed to the local climate conditions and don’t need further treatment. Most cotton, on the other hand, stems from genetically modified seeds that in fact require fertilizers and insecticides. Furthermore, these GMO seeds are patented and sold to the cotton farmers at a very high price. This means debt, and in many cases subsequent suicides when the farmers can no longer pay.
So organic cotton cultivation is better not only for the environment but also for the farmers who are not exposed to harmful chemicals, who are not indebted to patent owners, and who grow other crops alongside the cotton.
Finally, organic cotton is better for those who wear the clothes made from it. Some say they can feel it on their skin, that the cotton is organic. Certainly they don’t have to worry about allergies or about their skin being sensitive to chemicals since organic cotton is non-toxic.
Even the dyeing of the fabric is done with non-toxic products.
After being harvested, the cotton fibres are made into textile. At this stage, as well as in the production, organic textile requires less water than conventionally made textile and no toxic chemicals. In Mosaik we buy our cotton from two manufactures. Germany-based Lebenskleidung and Pure Fabricz from the Netherlands. Both use cotton that is certified to live up to the Global Organic Textile Standard throughout the entire supply chain.
Apart from the environmental conditions, the GOTS also includes social criteria. These follow the International Labour Convention include the abolition of child labour, decent working conditions, fair pay, and non-excessive working hours. To say the least, these standards are very far from what is common in the conventional cotton industry.
At the stage where clothes are being bought and sold there is the question of the term 'fashion' itself. Today fashion goes very fast. Some say there are not two, three or four seasons in a year but 52! Every week a new collection hits the stores. Fast pace fashion is followed by fast pace consumption. The consequence is a massive waste. Clothing is cheap, and to many consumers in our part of the world it’s not a big deal to buy a shirt that they wear one time – or perhaps never. But cheap clothes come at a high price, only it’s not the buyers who pay it. Right now, the cost of fast fashion is paid by the environment and by farmers and textile workers in developing countries.
Contrary to custom, Mosaik Eco Studio believes in slow fashion. We want to encourage our customers to take a different look at the clothes they buy. Next time you buy a pair of knickers or a bra, think of it as something that is meant to last, not consumed.
Just like Mosaik does not produce more than we sell, we will encourage our customers to not buy more than they need. This is why our clothes are carefully produced so you will actually be able to wear them for many years. When your clothes do wear out, and if they are still mendable, we will be happy to repair them for you.
In 2015 the United Nations launched their Agenda for Sustainable Development along with 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The aim is for governments and business in all countries to work together to secure prosperity for all while protecting the planet.
Mosaik sees the goals as highly valuable guidelines for business conduct and development. While all the 17 goals are linked and no one goal can be isolated from the others, our work mostly relates to goal no. 12: Sustainable consumption and production. This goal is about “promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all.“ When it has been implemented it will help to “achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.” We believe that shifting from conventionally grown cotton to organic cotton is a major step in that direction. As is the reduction of waste that follows from more conscious consumption.
Fortunately, Mosaik Eco Studio is not the only brand who endorses the Sustainable Development Goals. More and more actors in the clothing business realize they have a responsibility for reducing pollution and waste. See a talk on sustainable fashion from last year’s UN Sustainable Development Summit here. For those of you who are interested, you can read more about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal no. 12: Responsible consumption and production here.