“In the wind you billow and snap as if you were my soul”-Pablo Neruda, from “Ode to Clothes.”

When we shop for clothing, we typically select for color, function and style, but there is a much more important factor to consider in choosing garments: is it made though a natural process, or by one that can pose serious risks to your health?


If you’ve never stopped to consider how your clothing affects your health, consider the fact that we spend most of every day in materials that sit directly on our skin. If our clothes are made from synthetic materials that contain harmful dies or flame retardants, then we absorb and inhale those chemicals day in, day out.

If our clothing is made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk, hemp and wool, those risks are non-existent. You’ll find that these fibers are also the most breathable and most comfortable. Additionally, we can choose materials that are produced organically to avoid having residual pesticides and herbicides in contact with our bodies. Remember, a pesticide does not just magically affect pests alone: a poison is a poison. In the U.S., one third of a pound (5 oz) of agricultural chemicals are used to make one single cotton T-shirt.


Clothes should also be loose-fitting to allow for proper digestion, circulation and drainage of the lypmhatic system. There are lymph nodes all throughout the body that help to filter and eliminate spent bacteria, viruses and dead tissue, and these organs need to be given the space they need to flow freely. If clothing, especially clothing with an elastic band, leaves a mark once removed, it is simply too tight.

We should also make sure to wear clothing that helps us regulate our body temperatures. Wear clothes that keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and prioritize those attributes over fashion alone.

Care & Cleaning

For care of clothing, use biodegradable cleaners and avoid commercial pre-wash treatments, bleach, and products that list enzymes among the ingredients. These can contribute to rashes and respiratory problems. If you must dry clean, choose a company that advertises its commitment to the environment, which means products that are safer for you, too. The Hippocrates Health Institute suggests that garments that have been conventionally dry-cleaned be left outdoors for up to a week to allow for the dispersal of toxic fumes.


A word on shoes. While it is important to choose a shoe that supports your feet and back, it is also important to go without shoes now and then to maintain the integrity of the structure of the foot, which did not evolve to be crammed into high heels. You will also notice how good it feels to connect one’s bare feet to the grass, sand and stones of the earth. This vital process is known as “Earthing.”

As in all walks of life, making smart and natural decisions for your clothing is simply better for you and for the rest of us.