Cotton. From Blue to

Cotton. From Blue to


1. Cottonseed is planted from early February to mid-May and the matured fluffy, white bolls are harvested from September through December

2. Spinning mills purchase bales of cotton then blend, clean and straighten cotton fibers into a continuous strand called sliver, which goes through additional processes prior to spinning.

3. The spinning process reduces the sliver’s weight and inserts twist in order to  produce a yarn, which is then packaged and ready for the weaving mill.

4. Yarns are combined to form a continuous “rope” and many ropes are fed into multiple indigo dyeing baths.

5. Once dried, ropes are separated into individual yarns, wound onto sheet-like beams and mounted on a loom for weaving.

6. Large rolls of finished denim fabric are shipped to the garment manufacturer and assorted denim garments are created for sale at retail. When ready to add the newest denim styles to a wardrobe, old denim can be recycled and put to good use.

7. The first step in turning an old pair of jeans or any denim garment into natural cotton fiber insulation is to remove zippers, buttons, hardware, and embellishments.

8. The denim is then returned to its natural, original fiber state, cotton, preparing it for manufacturing.

9. The reprocessed fiber is treated with a borate solution for fire retardency and mold/mildew resistance. Borate has a lower toxicity than table salt, making it safe for people and their environment. The manufacturing process for creating UltraTouch™ Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation is now underway.

10. Sheets of insulation are cut to size and prepared for packaging to be shipped and installed for use in residential homes and commercial buildings across the country.

Many colleges and universities have decided to cooperate with Cotton From Blue To Green by having donation events.  My school, SUNY ESF, will be hosting such an event on October 29th.  This will take place on the quad and is called “Drop Your Jeans”.  They will be taking donations and snapping photos of you “dropping your jeans” so you can share them on Facebook!!!

Part 7: “Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices” by Mindy Pennybacker: Personal Care and Clothing

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Personal Care and Apparel-ohhhh my fav 🙂

Skin and Hair
–try and avoid the word “fragrance” because this usually means synthetic fragrance, which means phthalates or other toxic chemicals

General Personal Care Products
–the term “natural” by itself is meaningless, because heavy metals and petroleum are “natural”.
–there are exceptions to listing ALL ingredients on labels. For example, “fragrance” has been used to hide all kinds of synthetic ingredients because fragrance recipes are protected by law
–balance more affordable products with green products that have high standards
Database rating cosmetics

Good fragrances
–non-synthetic fragrances consisting of plant essential oils
–genuinely “unfragranced” products like pure shea or cocoa butter

Avoid these terms
–Fragrance-free/Unscented: can mean that fragrances were added to neutralize other scents
Consumer Union’s eco-label project
–Hypoallergenic/Sensitivity tested/Non-irritating/Allergy tested/Dermatologist tested (all meaningless)

–Phthalates are used to make perfumes last longer and keep nail polish from flaking
–Fragrances are associated with allergic reactions
–In 1996 wildlife Biologist Theo Colburn, Ph.D. wrote Our Stolen Future about hormone-disrupting chemicals found in everyday products
–botanical ingredients are renewable, it’s even better to use organic botanical ingredients cultivated without pesticides

links related to this topic:
Organic Consumers Association
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Skin Deep database
–The author calls this next list, the Filthy Fifteen
* means moderate-hazard ingredients
**means moderate-to-high hazard ingredients

1. Aluminum starch/octenylsuccinate**: anti-caking agent and fragrance; linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm
2. Antibacterials/antimicrobials like Triclosan**: in deodorants, moisturizers, toothpaste, liquid hand soap, and body wash; suspected of spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
3. Coal tar colors**: suspected carcinogens
4. Cocamidopropyl betaine*: sudsing agent; can produce allergic reactions
5. Ethoxylated chemicals: sudsing/moisturizing agents; process of making these can create carcinogenic 1, 4 dioxane** Also PEG-80 sorbitan laurate**, PEG-6 methyl ether*, polyethylene glycol**, PEG-20**, sodium laureth sulfate*, sodium coco sulfate (from coconut)*, ceteareth-20 and 30**. Many more with PEG and eth in the name
6. Formaldehyde**: preservative and known carcinogen/allergen in nail and hair products. Present as a contaminant in many other types of personal care products. Also diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium compounds
7. Fragrance**: can include phthalates**, isoeugenol**, cinnamal**, and BHT*, which are all linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm and allergies
8. Heavy metals**: neurotoxins that include lead and mercury; lead** is found in several lipsticks. Mercury** can be in eye make-up, both can cause nervous system and brain damage
9. Nano particles*: possible brain damage and cancer risks
10. Oxybenzone/benzophenone**: in sunscreens, risk of cancer and hormone disruption
11. Petroleum distillates: in mascaras, wart removers; suspected carcinogenis
12. Polyethylene**: plastic used as a film, binder, or stabalizer in lipsticks, mascaras, etc.; ethoxylated reffered to above and may contain 1, 4 dioxane (referred to above)
13. P-Phenylenediamine (PPD): in hair dyes and bleaches; possible risk of cancer, developmental/reproductive harm
14. Preservatives: BHA**, methylparaben**, other parabens*, found in breast cancer cells in the lab.
15. Silica**: anti-caking agent; mostly a risk in powder form; mica and talc are also used in powders but are less risky


Hydroquinone/Resorcinol: acne treatments, skin lighteners, and developer in dyes and bleaches; linked to cancer and allergies

Salicylic acid: acne treatments, dandruff shampoos, moisturizers, astringent/toners, and facial washes; linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm

more information is available on the author’s site

Nanotechnology and Personal Care Products
–many mineral makeups and sunblocks use nanotechnology to give a smooth texture and transparency
–they can penetrate the skin, entering the bloodstream
–toxins can “piggyback” on them, carried deeper into the body
–they have been used as antibacterial “silver” coatings in washing machines and fabrics
–However, the Environmental Working Group advises using nano-ized sunblocks over synthetic ones, which pose a greater threat
–labels don’t usually disclose that they use nano-particles
–micronized means particles are larger than 100 nanoparticles (safer size)
–choose opaque, rather than sheer mineral make-up
–try cornstarch or silk as allternatives
low risk makeup powders, eye make-ups, bronzers, and blush

Good Beauty Labels: free of the most toxic ingredients known
Australian Certified Organic: uses standards like USDA; accredited by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
BDIH (Association of German Industries and Trading Firms): strict natural cosmetics seal, no petroleum-based ingredients
Certified USDA Organic: 95% certified organic
ECO-CERT: EU 3rd party mark; 10% organic and 95% natural ingredients
Made wit Organic: minimum 70% certified organic; no synthetic preservatives
NPA (Natural Products Association): seal bars toxic/irritating ingredients like phthalates, parabens, and sodium laureth and lauryl sulfate
NSF/ANSI (National Sanitation Foundation International/American Natural Standards Institute): requires 70% organic strictly minimizes use of synthetics
OASIS (Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards): EU seal specifics 85% organic ingredients, but uses industry certifiers
The Soil Association: EU seal from UK organic farming research institute not quite as stringent as USDA organic; allows more synthetics
Whole Foods Premium Body Care: this green in-store shelf tag flags products that are free of 250 toxic chemicals per Campaign for Safe Cosmetics criteria

Also meaningful:
Certified Vegan
Fair Trade Certified: plant ingredients sourced from cooperatives ensuring living wages, humane working conditions, and other benefits to workers –> and IMO’s Fair for Life

Leaping Bunny: certified free of animal testing

Somewhat meaningful:
No DEA, No Methyl/Propyl-Paraben, No Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, No Synthetic Detergents

Bad Beauty Labels: claims are confusing and/or misleading or deemed “meaningless” by the Consumers Union’s Greener Choices Eco-label Project

Chemical Free/No Chemicals, Contains No Hazardous Ingredients per OSHA Regulations, Earth Smart, Environmentally/Eco-Safe, Environmentally Friendly, Natural, Organic

Un-Certified Fair Trade Claims
Cruelty-free, 100% Vegan, 100% Vegetarian Ingredients

Skin Care
–Use the simplest ingredients on your skin like pure plant oils and minerals
–research firms predict a boom in natural cosmetics in this area because the skin is the largest organ and the most absorptive.
–cosmetics and personal care products are the leading reason for calls to poison control centers in the US
–cosmetics banned by the European Union have not been reviewed by the U.S. FDA
–Environmental Working Group says (sorry for the statistics but this one is important) 1/13 women and 1/23 men are exposed to cosmetic ingredients that are known or probable carcinogens
–we get multiple doses of the same toxic ingredients through our personal care, diets, plastics, etc.
–mineral oil and paraffin are only low-to-moderate hazards, but look out for mineral oils in sprays and paraffin in lipsticks. Both of these forms are easily ingested
–the author has a downloadable list of cosmetics to avoid at her site
–many companies now have regular AND an organic line, but if it is not 3rd party certified the label is meaningless

Mostly avoid these on the skin:
Synthetic preservatives (like parabens-prefaced by methyl-, propyl-, ethyl-, and butyl-)

Good ingredients:

–plant-derived, essential oil preservatives that inhibit bacteria growth:
Aloe vera, Citrus seed extract, Clove oil, Cranberry extract, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Grapeseed, Lavender, Neem, Rose, Rosemary, Sage. Thyme, and Witch hazel

–plant-derived moisturizing agents:
Jojoba oil/extract, Olive oil/butter. Shea oil/butter

Bad ingredients:

–Synthetic, petroleum-derived preservatives:
Parabens and BHA

–petroleum-derived moisturizing agents:
Propylene glycol and Phenoxyethanol

–Palm-oil: growing it in plantations destroys forests

–parabens collect in human breast tissue and Are linked to breast cancer

Oils: use on facial or body skin and dry hair ends:
Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Dry Oil
Jurlique Balancing Rose Oil

Body Cream:
Organic Essentials shea butter cream
L’Occitane bio lavender body cream

Face Cream:
Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream
Weleda Rose Cream
Pangea Organics Rose Geranium
Origins organics

Eye Cream:
Burt’s Bees Radiance Royal Eye Jelly

–definitely avoid Benzophenone (or oxybenzone)

Good Active Ingredients:
Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide

Bad Active Ingredients:
Benzophenone/oxybenzone (suspeted hormone disruptors), [Homosalate, Octinoxate] (interferes with hormonal systems)/Octyl Methoxycinnamate, [Padimate O (PABA), Parsol 1789] (may cause DNA damage to skin cells when exposed to sun)/Avobenzone

–sunblocks in spray form are easier to inhale
–what isnt absorbed washes off and harms ecosystems
–the author lists the top cosmetics in her book on pages 174 and 175
–she also lists top natural cosmetic companies on pages 176-181 (there are just too many to list here)

–regualr washing with soap, blotting the wetness, and using non-talc powder will discourage smelly bacteria
–aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants block wetness by clogging sweat ducts

Best Deodorants:
Burt’s Bees, Dr. Hauschka, Logona: Free Spray, Miessence: roll-on, Nature’s Gatr: Asian Pear and Red Tea, Terressentials, and Weleda

DIY: Mix baking soda and cornstarch and pat it on

Soap and Shampoo
–mostly avoid 1, 4 dioxane (carcinogen) and triclosan (causes irritation and gastrointestinal upset and harms wildlife)

Good Sudsing/Surfactants:
Plain soap and warm water or plant essential oils that inhibit bacteria

Bad Sudsing/Surfactants:

–bar soap (over liquid) because it usually has fewer ingredients and use less packaging

Feminine Hygiene Products
Disposable: buy non-chlorine-bleached tampons and sanitary napkins like Natracare or Seventh Generation

Reusable: reduces paper in waste stream like Lunapads or menstrual cups (huh??) at

–buy less new clothing, if you do ask for sustainably produced or recycled fibers
–if they don’t have it, your question may inspire them to carry these things
–cotton is the 3rd most pesticide-doused crop in the US

Green Clothing: try to buy used clothing or re-use your own clothing in other ways

Green Clothing (when buying new):
Certified organic cotton, Recycled cotton, Recycled polyester, Recycled polyester (made from recycled beverage bottles) like Ecospun fleece, and Recycled wool
–Cerifed Organic (USDA, O-wool) and Pure Grow/Eco/Greenspun wools forbid dipping sheep in pesticides and require sustainable grazing
–Hemp or certified organic hemp is good because it is often grown with no pesticides or intensive irrigation
–linen made from flax or linseed
–ahimsa/peace silk: pupae allowed to emerge naturally before cocoons are harvested

Next Greenest Choices:
–Bamboo: tough wild grass grown without pesticides or irrigation
–Ingeo: synthetic made from corn, however, coen is the most pesticide-doused crop in the US
–Lyocel (Tencel): made from wood pulp and 99% of processing chemicals are captured and reused
–Soy: silky fiber from leftover manufacturing tofu and soy milk, however, it is the 2nd most pesticide-doused crop in the U.S.

Look out for (least green choices):
–Acrylic: from petroleum
–Conventional cotton: grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers made from fossil fuels
–Conventional silk: cruelty issues from killing pupae in the cocoons by baking or drowning and silkworms being fed steroids
–New polyester: made from petroleum (non-renewable)
–Nylon: from petroleum
–PVC: from petroleum and chlorne releases cancer-causing dioxins that get into food
–Rayon: from wood pulp; deforestation

Other links:
“Good Stuff” clothing

Fabric Finishes and Dyes
–pesticide residues are removed from cotton and other fiber crops during processing but fabric treatments can expose you to iffy chemicals

Good Fabrics:
–Untreated or minimally treated fabrics: Patagonia (organic and untreated cotton clothing)
–Wool or snug-fitting cotton pajamas meet US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s fire-resistant requirements
–Unbleached or non-chlorine-bleached clothing
–Pure Grow/Eco/Greenspun wool: no heavy metals and untreated

–Cotton that naturally grows in colors: Labels include Colorgrown, Foxfibre, and Colorganic
–Fabrics made with OEKO-TEX certified dyes: no heavy metals used, higher absorption rates leave less run-off and less need for alkaline and salt use as fixatives
–Fabrics made with fiber-reactive dyes: bond to the fiver, releasing dye in wastewater
–Clothes colored with cold pad batch dyeing processes: uses less energy, water, and chemicals
–Clothes colored with SKAL-certified botanical and natural dyes: These are made according to UK Soil Association organic processing standards

Little Less Green:
-Non-certified “natural”, “vegetable”, or “low-impact” dyes: claims are not regulated

Unsafe Fabrics:
–Wrinkle proofing/permanent press (formaldehyde)
–Stain proofing (formaldehyde)
–Water proofing (formaldehyde)
–Moth proofing
–Chemical fire retardants (which is required in children’s sleepwear) (formaldehyde)
–Heavy-metal dyes like chromium
–Synthetic chemical dyes

–formaldehyde “off-gases” or evaporates off of material and makes fabric less breatable which can lead to overheating and rashes
–water and stain repellants like Gore-Tex and Teflon contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs) linked to cancer, developmental harm, etc.
–chlorine bleach, moth-proofing pesticides, heavy metal dyes, and fixatives run off during processing and contaminate waterways

–Walmart, Kmart and some other stores carry GreenSource clothing which the tag allows you to trace it back to the farmer and through manufacturing and distribution processes

Fair-Trade Apparel
–green non-profit organizations like Rainforest Alliance and Conservation International have started to consider workers and community-welfare as well as environmental impacts in rating standards
definition of Fair-Trade

Union Made: means workers are free to exercise collective bargaining rights seeking better wages and conditions. List of companies at
Fair Trade Federation: partners with Fairtrade Labelling Organizational (network of 3rd party certifiers). Find FTF-certified apparel and food companies at Global Exchange
Fair Trade Mark: administered seal by the Fair Trade Foundation; monitors workplaces using independent 3rd parties
–Green America Approved: displaying this seal means they have met the socially responsible, fair trade or green standards set by Green America.
Fair Labor Association: non-profit association, members include colleges and apparel companies (Adidas, Eddie Bauer, Nike, and Patagonia). FLA allows member companies to do some of their own monitoring but verifies findings using ind. 3rd parties

Recycle Apparel
–donate to charity like Salvation Army (I have a personal suggestion about this…they take free clothes and then sell them and their practices have been kind of iffy over the years with a lot of embezzlement–donate clothes to somewhere that distributes them agin for free or do research on where the money goes if they sell them!!!!!!!), you can get a tax break. Or sell clothes to a consignment/vintage store
–buy recycled Patagonia poly fleece, organic cooton, and cotton/poly-blended apparel with Common Threads logo

Buying Recycled Fashion:
eko*logic: handmade recycled wool clothing
–Goodwill stores and Salvation Army or school/church thrift shops
On and On Clothing: designer fashions from recycled clothing
Preloved has fresh styles for women and men and combine recycled and new materials; Handcut line is made from 100% vintage fabrics

— the author has a list (which is too big for me to re-type) on pages 202-206 of Green Clothing and Baby Apparel

Cloth Diapers and Covers
–it is a toss-up on which is better for the environment: cloth or disposable diapers
–washing cloth diapers in hot water consumes energy and disposable diapers clog landfills
–ask yourself which is more convenient and economical for YOU
–reusable cloth diapers have been found to be more economical during the writing of this book

–partly washable, partly disposable with a flushable absorbent pad

Baby Needs: companies selling organic cotton, hemp or bamboo fitted diapers; organic cotton, wool diaper covers and fited pants; and prefolds worn alone (cloth diapers) (cloth diapers)

Greener, disposable diapers (non-chlorine-bleached with some recycled content) (uses absorbent gel, but still better than PVC) (gel-free)

Safer Greener Toys
–babies chew and mouth toys
–choose toys free of PVC (contains both phthalates and lead). Lego is PVC free. Also Brio, Gerber, International Playthings, Sassy, and Tiny Love are ok
–choose toys made of wood certified from well-managed forests. Available at Toys-R-Us and Holgate Toys
–IKEA has hardwood train sets
–The Playstore has range of certified organic cotton and natural wood toys for all ages
–PVC- and lead-free toy list
–check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall list

Green Sheets: companies that use organic cotton sheets and pillowcases, many untreated and avoid harmful fabric finishers and dyes
Bed, Bath and Beyond: uses OC and natural (untreated) and soy and bamboo bedding
The Company Store: OC (organic cotton)-covered down comforter and bamboo blend sheets
Coyuchi: color-grown OC sheets
Caiam: OC and wool blankets, comforters, quilts, and mattress pads
Native Organic Cotton: OC bath and kitchen towels and robes and aprons
Pottery Barn: OC duvet covers, quilts, and coverlets
West Elm: OC bath and bedding, throws and more

Part 8