Shea Organics is a beautiful new shop in Collingwood, Ontario that’s been receiving lots of attention! They offer a wide range of all natural, fair trade, vegan, cruelty-free cosmetics, skin care and accessories. Their mission is to educate the community on why clean, eco-friendly beauty is crucial not only our health, but to the planet’s health as well.
Aside from a gorgeous collection of our Turkish towels and blankets, Shea Organics carries an amazing array of high performing natural brands such as Graydon Skincare, Lines of Elan and Elate Cosmetics to name a few. And it gets even better; they proudly support female owned and operated businesses. In fact, 95% of the brands they carry are women-run! Their product offerings are carefully curated to ensure that everything is sustainably made, organic, fair trade and Canadian. This is definitely our kind of shop!
A mere 1% of the world’s cotton is grown organically. The other 99% is produced conventionally, with a heavy reliance on pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides and other toxic chemicals (Textile Exchange, 2010).
OK, but why does this matter? Why should I choose organic? What are the negative implications of conventional cotton, and why is organic cotton SO much better?
Here’s what we know:
STRONG CHEMICALS are used in cotton production, both to help the cotton grow and to keep pests away. The use of these chemicals has caused those exposed to them (animals and humans alike) to suffer from disturbing health consequences. These effects include pesticide poisoning as well as nervous system, and reproductive system impairments (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007).
On the other hand, organic cotton is produced using natural processes. This ensures both the health of the cotton and of those exposed to it. These methods include: using crop rotation, introducing beneficial insects to control pests, and using the technique of mixed cultivation (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007). The use of natural processes over toxic chemicals means that those exposed to the crop in production (people, animals and the environment) are less much likely to experience negative side effects.
The production of conventional cotton creates unnecessary amounts of CO2. In fact, conventionally grown cotton has been named the world’s most polluting agriculture commodity by the Environmental Justice Foundation (2007). It’s reported that 1 ton of this cotton produces more than 1,750 kilograms of CO2 (Cool Cotton: Organic cotton and climate change, 2015).
THE BETTER OPTION: organic cotton, which produces 46% less CO2.
Conventional cotton also has a tremendously negative effect on our water sources. For example, it takes two and a half thousand litres of water to produce a simple cotton shirt. In a world where clean and safe drinking water is a scarcity, this is mind blowing.
Alternatively, organic cotton uses much less water during production. Organic farmers are also much more likely to use rain water over irrigation systems. It’s estimated that organic cotton is 80% rain-fed (Organic Cotton is Better For the Environment, 2014), which places less strain on the waterways of the growing regions.
Aside from the strong environmental argument for using organically grown cotton, the health reasons are equally compelling. Keep an eye out for PART II of this post, where we’ll look at why organic cotton is the healthier choice.
For the past few weeks our team has been traveling around Turkey meeting with our designers, artisans and women’s cooperatives. We’ve driven thousands of kilometers to work in many different remote villages alongside our talented makers. With each visit to Turkey, we learn more about the many steps that go into making our textiles. We also learn about Turkey’s rich culture and traditions, and more specifically about the history behind traditional art forms. We’ve had the honour and the pleasure to work alongside the best of the best and are proud to say that our team has now finished designing our 2019 collection.
Handmade production that honours ancient tradition is something that takes a lot of time, skill, effort and expertise, and even more so when done ethically. From sourcing the finest organically grown Turkish cotton to the natural dying process to the weaving and then finally to the palm rolling of the each and every tassel. Even the cotton ties and wooden beads that we use to roll our towels are handmade. The beauty is in the detail.
This production allows artisans to have meaningful employment doing something they love, while supporting their families and often working from home. Our team is proud to work with so many incredibly talented people, and in particular with so many women. We see first hand the difference that our business makes in their lives, and the way that it helps to ameliorate their communities. We are humbled by the amount of work and love that goes into the production of these beautiful pieces of art.
Next time you get out of the shower and wrap yourself in your Stray & Wander towel, think about the fact that your purchase has done many meaningful things. It’s provided gainful and ethical employment to communities of women, it’s helped to preserve ancient weaving and dying traditions and has helped to support social services in the communities in which we work.
At Stray & Wander we're all about buying quality and buying less. We travel around the globe and work alongside some of the most talented artisans in the world. And, we support handmade, fair trade and ethical sourcing.
Located in the heart of Leslieville in Toronto, Sweat & Soda serves up a plethora of healthy options, no matter what diet or lifestyle you follow. From breakfast jars to salads to delicious vegan wraps, all of their food is made from scratch, in-house, and with a lot of love.
In addition to their fabulous coffee and tasty treats, they’ve recently launched an in-house brand of pantry items called The Side Kitchen and you can now buy jars of their EPIC vegan kimchi , lemon preserve and granola to-go. Also for sale are gym accessories, including water bottles, baseball caps and their newest addition, our Marin Hand Towels (perfect for your workout!).
Sweat & Soda is not your average café, they focus on fostering and supporting healthy lifestyles and community. Located in a neighbourhood filled with health and fitness professionals, they’ve created an information hub for all your fitness needs! Whether you’re looking for a new yoga/spin class, a personal trainer, massage therapist or a group to run with, go see them. They know people, and are happy to help.