Industry Views July 2017

Zaroff On Organic Momentum

Marci Zaroff (marcizaroff.com) is an ECO lifestyle entrepreneur and educator. Founder and ceo of MetaWear, founder of Under the Canopy and co-founder of BeyondBrands and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Marci has been instrumental in driving environmental leadership and social justice worldwide for more than 25 years. Board member of the Organic Trade Association, Textile Exchange, Turning Green and Cradle to Cradle’s “Fashion Positive,” Zaroff was a key figure in the development of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and first Fair Trade Textile Certification.

Many GOTS-certified home textiles are high end. Do you see the organic movement trickling down to mass-market products?

“Absolutely! My mission has always been to break the stignas of GOTS-certified home fashions, and to demonstrate that style, quality and price are not mutually exclusive with social and environmental responsibility. I am working on a new GOTS-certified organic home brand, which will launch in 2018, where the premise is authenticity, affordability and accessibility. The key to producing mass-market organic products is scale and creative vertical integration—sourcing efficiently from farm to finished product, then telling the story authentically.”

Are natural materials being developed that mimic the benefits of synthetics so consumers can make more natural choices?

“Much of the current research is focused on unveiling the human and environmental impacts of the dyes and finishes being added to both natural and synthetic textiles to make them more ‘efficient’—whiter, wrinkle-free and/or stain resistant—such as: 1) glyphosate in the herbicide roundup, which is heaviliy used in the growing of conventional cotton, and is being linked to cancer and autism; 2) chlorine bleach, forrmaldehyde and heavy metals—toxic chemicals often used in dyeing and processing, which can be carcinogenic or disruptive to our endocrine and/or reproductive systems. While the convenience of these finishes are marketed as ‘value-add’, consumers are becoming more aware of the harmful repercussions from these processing methods and are desiring healthier choices.”

What steps need to be taken to increase the use and sales of organic home textile products?

“Education and accessibility are the keys. Today, organic fiber is the fastest growing non-food category (faster than personal care, cleaning products and supplements). Global organic textile sales have grown from $245 million in 2002 to more than $16 billion in 2016. With that growth has come concerns that many companies have jumped on the organic fiber bandwagon without understanding the importance of traceability and integrity, thereby causing market confusion and even cynicism from consumers who don’t know what to believe. Greater outreach, awareness and enforcement about GOTS is paramount. The Organic Trade Association also has launched an Organic Fiber Council to bring together stakeholders of the U.S. organic movement to build cohesive efforts from policy to promotion and to create a strategy in developing organic fiber marketing and research.”