Beyond food: Organic lifestyle brands star in pop-up event in New York -Organic Trade Association and sponsors present "Live Organic from Farm to Home"
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2017)—Organic is not just for eating anymore, and more than a dozen cutting-edge and innovative organic fashion and home textile brands are helping the Organic Trade Association (OTA) prove that point in an inspiring, educational and entertaining two-day pop-up event in the heart of Manhattan.
Presented by OTA and OTA's Fiber Council with the generous support of 24 outstanding sponsors, the specially designed pop-up venue – open to the public on Friday and Saturday, May 5 & 6, at the Treehaus organic café and food market -- showcases the latest in organic products for the home and for the closet.
The all-organic pop-up shop features organic cotton T-shirts and baby clothes, organic wool sweaters and socks, organic sheets and blankets, even organic mattresses. "Live Organic from Farm to Home" is connecting the dots between that organic T-shirt or sweater and the organic cotton farmer and the organic sheep raiser; between the organic mattress factory or an organic fabric dyeing factory and the downstream impact on our water and soil.
"At Timberland, we hold ourselves accountable for what goes into our products as well as how they're made, and we're constantly seeking innovative solutions to reduce their environmental impact," said Colleen Vien, Sustainability Director for outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland, one of the event's sponsors. "Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides and requires significantly more water than organically grown cotton. As such, Timberland has had a longstanding goal of increasing our use of organic cotton year over year."
Kicking off #LiveOrganic was a VIP reception on Thursday evening. Media guests met and mingled with the leaders and pioneers of the organic textile industry, talked with the farmers who are committing their lives to growing organic fiber in the most environmentally sustainable way, and heard the unique stories of each of the sponsoring brands.
"We've worked diligently for 23 years to maintain our integrity as environmental stewards and to educate the consumer on the importance of using U.S. grown organic cotton. You care about what you put into your body ...you should care about what you put on your body as well," said Jimmy Wedel, an organic cotton farmer from the Texas High Plains and President of the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC) in Lubbock, Texas. TOCMC farmer members produce most of the organic cotton grown in this country. Wedel is a third generation farmer who farms over 4,000 areas, almost all certified organic.
Living an organic lifestyle
Today's consumer is embracing an organic food-to-fashion-and-home lifestyle. Organic food is now found in over 80 percent of American kitchens. And the American organic textile market is now a billion-dollar-plus market, posting robust double-digit growth in recent years. Organic fiber is in demand for everything from organic bath towels to baby clothes to high fashion. Consumers are increasingly looking for clean products without toxins, unnecessary ingredients, and which are produced in ways that do not harm the environment.
"Coyuchi knows how important organic fiber and sustainable practices are to our customers, so we've gone one step further," said Eileen Mockus, CEO of Coyuchi organic bedding company. "To extend the longevity of our organic cotton bedding and towels and ensure it won't end up in a landfill, we're created our new circular subscription service which lets you send back your linens and allows us to renew, upcycle, or recycle them."
More than 13 million tons of textiles end up in U.S. landfills, according to findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But long before textiles reach the landfill, the production of conventional fiber is compromising the environment. Over thirty eight million pounds of pesticides were used on conventional cotton in 2014 in the U.S., making cotton third in terms of pesticide use after only corn and soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sponsors of #LiveOrganic inspired the enthusiastic gathering on Thursday when they shared the mission of their companies and the passion for a clean world that created – and continues to create – their widening array of products.
"Responsible sourcing through environmentally and socially conscious practices, along with a commitment to transparency and community are important to everyone at Ramblers Way," said Nick Armentrout, Supply Chain Manager for sustainable and organic clothing maker Ramblers Way. "When Ramblers Way sources organic wool, we use the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to help us assure environmental and social standards are followed from farm to fabric to fashion."
"From the field to your home, the Grund organic cotton bath rugs offer a chemical free option – no harmful pesticides and chemicals during production, harvesting and processing," said Michael Twer, Vice President, Sales/General Manager for organic bath maker Grund. "Each rug to towel is responsibly made to the absolute highest social and environmental standards, and the cotton used can be traced to the very community of cultivation."
"Naturepedic mattresses do not contain any polyurethane foam, formaldehyde, pesticides, GMOs, vinyl or any questionable materials," said Chris Robinson, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Naturepedic organic mattress company. "Our mattresses are made without harmful chemicals of any kind, including flame retardant chemicals, or chemical flame barriers."
While the pop-up focuses on what we put on our body, the dots also connect organic cotton production to healthy organic food. Two-thirds of the harvested organic cotton crop is used in food and cattle feed. Organic cottonseed has been found to be a source of high nutrition, protein and energy in organic animal feed rations, and to boost milk production and butterfat in dairy cows. Cottonseed oil is one of the most widely used cooking oils, and organic cottonseed oil offers consumers the huge benefits of being produced from crops grown without pesticides and chemicals.
"Our company was founded on the belief that organic makes a difference for families, farming communities and the environment," said Mike Ferry, president of Horizon Organic dairy company. "That commitment remains true today, so we are proud to support organic throughout the supply chain, in the dairy industry and beyond, and are happy to sponsor the OTA's first Live Organic from Farm to Home Pop-Up Shop."
A healthier world for all, from farm to home
OTA's Organic Fiber Council was convened in 2015 with the goal to unite the organic fiber sector with a cohesive voice, identify the challenges and opportunities in the organic fiber sector, educate the consumer about the importance of organic fiber, and help move the sector forward.
"OTA and the Organic Fiber Council are thrilled to be telling the story of organic fiber and textiles, and to be showing the public in such a fun and engaging way why it truly makes a difference when you choose organic in every part of your life. And we're honored to be working with these industry pioneers – they're creating a healthier world for all of us," said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs for OTA and staff coordinator for the Organic Fiber Council.
The #LiveOrganic pop-up can be visited on May 5 and 6 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Treehaus MiMA, 470 West 42nd St.
The sponsoring organic fiber brands are Coyuchi, Dhana, Gallant, Grund, MetaWear, Naturepedic, Organic Cotton Plus, prAna, Ramblers Way, Spiritex, Synergy, Syona Home and Timberland. Sponsoring brands, farmers, organizations and retailers are Control Union, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Horizon Organic, OneCert, Oregon Tilth, MOM's Organic Market, Organic Valley, Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, Textile Exchange, Whole Foods, and the Richard D. Siegel Law Offices.