Attention eco-shoppers: here's why bamboo fabric isn't what you think it is

You've heard of the latest and greatest in sustainability: bamboo. It's a big hit on the list of renewable resources. Bamboo is said to be one of the most sustainable plants to produce from because it:

  1. Grows quickly and abundantly.
  2. Requires minimal water and labor.
  3. Is naturally pest-resistant and does not require pesticides and herbicides.
 Photo of Bamboo by  Jakob Owens  on  Unsplash

Photo of Bamboo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

And yet, while these are all truths about bamboo, many modern day production practices have transformed the fiber into something else entirely in order to greenwash the finished product. I, personally, am tired of falling victim to greenwashing scams, and was skeptical of bamboo products. So I did some research.

Bamboo is a bast fiber, much like hemp and linen. Without intense processing, bamboo makes for a very sustainable building material due to its strength and durability. It is suitable for flooring, furniture, construction materials, and is an eco-conscious substitute for just about anything made from wood.

 Photo of Bamboo by  Aldric RIVAT  on  Unsplash

Photo of Bamboo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

But these days, bamboo is used to make anything and everything, including fabric for clothing and bedding. Imagine making a t-shirt out of wood. Seems impossible, right? Or at least extremely uncomfortable. That's because bamboo is not meant for these applications. In nature, bamboo stalks are not soft, flexible, and stretchy like you t-shirt. They are thick, coarse, and structured. So what is bamboo fabric? How is it made? And is it really sustainable?

Bamboo fabric is produced using one of two methods:

  1. Mechanical. "This involves crushing the plants into a mush, using natural enzymes to break it down and then combing out the fibres and spinning them into a yarn." [1] This method is very labor-intensive and expensive. The end product is not soft enough to be worn as clothing.
  2. Chemical. "The plants are cooked in a cocktail of chemical solvents - primarily sodium hydroxide (lye, or caustic soda, as it's more commonly known) and carbon disulfide. Both are known to be harmful to human health, and sodium hydroxide can harm aquatic life when released into the water supply." [1] This process exposes both workers and consumers to harsh chemicals and heavy metals throughout the life of the product.
 Photo of Floating Bamboo by  Lennart Heim  on  Unsplash

Photo of Floating Bamboo by Lennart Heim on Unsplash

If you're still unsure, think about how bamboo was used before the age of the Machine and the Chemical. If your ancestors were able to make soft, stretchy t-shirt fabric out of bamboo, then you could be reasonable confident that it's sustainable. But the truth is, they couldn't have. Bamboo does not simply transform into fabric. You must use machinery and chemicals to boil the fiber down into something it's not. Your bamboo t-shirt is, essentially, a rayon (viscose) fiber.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, "Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with a harsh chemical that releases hazardous air pollutants. Any plant or tree could be used as the cellulose source—including bamboo—but the fiber that is created is rayon." [2]

I'd also like to point out that you will never be able to find a certified article of bamboo clothing. According to The Soil Association, the production processes required to manufacture bamboo fabric does not comply with their standards [1].

Don't get me wrong - the fact remains that bamboo is a great resource for building materials, and makes for an incomparable renewable and sustainable alternative to wood (save a tree!). But your ancestors could have told you that one.

In sum, if you're going for eco-conscious clothing, bedding and bath products, stay away from bamboo. We recommend shopping for 100% organic cotton, linen, and hemp products. Like bamboo, these fibers grow quickly and abundantly, and if done properly, do not require pesticides and herbicides. These are materials that can and have been certified, and can also be transformed into soft, delicate fabrics. For proof, take a look at Rawganique's products. We sell organic products to suit every need, and they are made sweatshop-free and chemical-free during all stages of the production process. These are products you can rely on.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/13/bamboo.fabric
  2. https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/whatever-happened-bamboo-clothing.html

The "Secret" you may be allergic to, and how to avoid it

Remember the lawsuit against Victoria's Secret back in 2008? Let's take a trip down memory lane.

In 2008, a 37-year-old woman named Roberta Ritter filed a lawsuit against the lingerie company, claiming that their bras gave her horrible, itchy, blistering rashes. Hundreds of complaints followed, leading to a class-action lawsuit against Victoria's Secret. Shortly thereafter, their bras were tested positive for a chemical called formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is simultaneously:

  1. Used to make clothing and textiles wrinkle-free, shrink-resistant, anti-static, waterproof, and stain-resistant.
  2. Recognized as a known carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.
  3. Not regulated by the USA, in manufacturing nor importing.

Lovely. I'd also like to note that, because formaldehyde creates a water-resistant property in textiles, the "wash-before-you-wear" trick won't always work on this one.

 Charlize 100% organic cotton handmade bra lined with organic cotton fleece, and Marilyn organic hemp boy shorts

Charlize 100% organic cotton handmade bra lined with organic cotton fleece, and Marilyn organic hemp boy shorts

Back to my story. The parent company, L Brands, claims “Victoria’s Secret does not add formaldehyde to its bras…” What they fail to indicate, however, is whether formaldehyde is already in the fabric they purchase to make bras. Also, “… multiple, independent tests confirm that Victoria’s Secret bras are formaldehyde-free or contain only traces which are significantly lower than allowed by the most stringent textile guidelines in the world…” [1, 2] So... is there formaldehyde or isn't there? Very informative, L Brands. Thank you for clarifying.

Formaldehyde is also a common allergen, which is why many people have reported reactions to Victoria's Secret bras. Formaldehyde, along with a dozen other chemicals, are thought to contribute to the development of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Chemical sensitivities are becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S., and we see the effects right here at Rawganique. Many of our customers have developed allergies and sensitivities to chemicals in textiles, which is why they shop with us. We are their only option for 100% organic clothing, bedding, and bath products.

 Organic cotton contour bra with adjustable straps

Organic cotton contour bra with adjustable straps

Our website has a Beginner's Guide to Chemical-Free Clothing & Home Products, as well as an information page on MCS, which are specifically designed to educate those who have newly developed chemical sensitivities. In the Guide, we explain that starting close to the body is most important. Switch to organic intimates and undergarments. And what does that include? Bras.

Rawganique has over 20 different styles of 100% organic bras, made from organic hemp, linen, and cotton. We even have handmade, completely elastic-free bras to suit everyone's purity preferences.

 Organic cotton cami bra top

Organic cotton cami bra top

The truth is, Victoria's Secret is not the only clothing company whose products contain formaldehyde. In fact, "Today’s clothing industry is a seven trillion dollar a year industry that uses an astounding 8,000 synthetic chemicals." [3] We encourage you to stop shopping at the huge department stores that offer cheap clothes with significant discounts. These clothes are more than likely being made overseas, where labor conditions are poor and the use of chemicals is prevalent.

If you can't stop shopping at department stores altogether, we cannot stress the importance of wearing organic undergarments enough. The last thing we want is for you beautiful people to be putting yourself at risk for debilitating sensitivities, allergies, and life-threatening diseases. Our goal is to educate, and save lives.

Shop our selection of 100% organic bras today. Your skin, your health, and the planet will thank you.

 Organic cotton comfort extreme bra

Organic cotton comfort extreme bra

Sources:

  1. http://ipinionsyndicate.com/is-formaldehyde-victorias-biggest-secret/
  2. https://www.lb.com/media/our-responses
  3. http://totalhealthmagazine.com/Allergies-Asthma/Consumers-Beware-Toxins-Lurking-in-Your-Clothing.html 

Why do feet sweat, and what you can do about it: Part 2

We hope you went and bought your first pair of hemp shoes after reading last week's blog post [link]. If you did, congrats! You're one step closer to happy, healthy feet. But the truth is, shoes are only half the battle. If you're still wearing synthetic, chemically-finished socks, then a pair of hemp shoes may not do you much good.

How come?

Well, socks in this day and age are riddled with synthetic materials such as polyester, elastic, nylon, elastane, spandex, polyamide, plastic, rayons.. the list goes on. These materials decrease the breathability of your socks by trapping moisture and blocking evaporation. And since synthetics are not absorbent in any way, that moisture has nowhere to go. (Note: bacteria thrives in dark, damp environments).

 Cheshire 100% organic linen terry anklet socks

Cheshire 100% organic linen terry anklet socks

However, rest assured that your plastic socks will last decades (and so will your blisters).

It's time you gave organic socks a try. No synthetic fibres, no finishing chemicals - only pure, natural fibers.

 Dvorak elastic-free 100% organic hemp terry socks

Dvorak elastic-free 100% organic hemp terry socks

What kind of fibers?

The go-to is typically cotton, but I'm here to tell you that cotton may not be the best solution to sweaty feet.

*gasp*

I know, I know. Everything is made of cotton these days, so it's only natural to question something that isn't. We discussed properties of cotton in our blog post about fabric and sheets, but I will explain here too.

 Schubert elastic-free 100% organic cotton terry socks

Schubert elastic-free 100% organic cotton terry socks

Cotton fibers are thin and fluffy, allowing them to be knitted very tightly together. Cotton fabric can actually trap heat in a similar way that synthetics do. Cotton does have the advantage of absorbency, however, and it will absorb up to 100% of its weight in moisture. The issue is, cotton could hang on to that moisture all day. Organic cotton is certainly one of the three natural fibers we work with at Rawganique. We love that it's soft, stretchy, and pure. But when it comes to wicking away moisture, there are a couple of other, more breathable organic alternatives.

What features do you value most? Would you prefer:

A) Breathability

B) Moisture-wicking

C) Absorbency

D) Insulation, or

E) All of the above

I'll take E, all of the above! Enter: hemp and linen. The benefits of these fibers are the same in socks as they are in shoes, sheets, and just about everything else. Socks made of hemp and linen will be breathable, moisture-wicking, absorbent, and insulating. You can read more on this topic in our blog post about fabrics and sheets.

 Elastic-free Dvorak 100% organic hemp socks, Schubert organic cotton socks, and Schumann organic linen socks.

Elastic-free Dvorak 100% organic hemp socks, Schubert organic cotton socks, and Schumann organic linen socks.

Corporations have convinced the world that they need synthetic "smart" fibers in their clothes for stretchability and temperature regulation, among other things. But that's simply not the case. Human-made substances and materials such as synthetic micro fibers, chemicals and plastics are not meant to be worn close to your body day after day. Doing so may compromise your health in more ways than one, and your stinky, sweaty feet are an indicator.

Rawganique makes dozens of 100% organic socks in different shapes, colors, and styles. All are made from organic cotton, linen, and/or hemp. We even have elastic-free socks for those who want a truly pure experience.

Treat your feet and stop the stink. Wear organic, wear hemp!

SHOP HERE: http://www.rawganique.co/organic-socks-s/193.htm

Why do feet sweat, and what you can do about it: Part 1

Did you know that there are approximately 250,000 sweat glands between your two feet? Those sweat glands excrete as much as half a pint of sweat each day. That's a lot of moisture, considering that most of our feet are trapped inside footwear a good portion of the day. If the shoes you wear don't wick away this moisture, it gets trapped, resulting in clammy, sweaty feet and other more serious issues. The leading cause of sweaty feet is shoes that don't breathe — these include all leather shoes and all synthetic shoes with impermeable surface.

 Handmade Unisex Docklands Hemp Moccasins (Natural Rubber Sole)

Handmade Unisex Docklands Hemp Moccasins (Natural Rubber Sole)

While sweating is natural, excessive sweating and moisture on your feet can contribute to foot problems such as Athlete’s Foot, and other fungal infections. In fact, about 5% of the US population has fungal foot infections each year. That's almost 20 million people in the US alone.

All sorts of foot problems are caused in part by the shoes you wear. You’re probably thinking, shoes are shoes, right? What difference does it make? Well, the majority of name brand shoes that you see in the department stores are made with a non-breathable material and finished with chemicals to make them more durable and waterproof. Waterproof shoes are a double-edged sword. They are excellent at keeping external moisture out, but they will also keep internal moisture in.

Your feet will go right on sweating all day, and that half-pint of moisture has nowhere to go. And at the end of the day, you kick off those sneakers and can’t help but cringe. Your socks are damp, your toes are pruned, and the stink!

 Handmade Bond Street Hemp Boots

Handmade Bond Street Hemp Boots

I mean, the sweat you can deal with, right? But the smell, that affects other people. It’s not so easily disguised.

If you’re like me, you avoid taking your shoes off in social situations. And when you do, you sit in awkward, uncomfortable positions with your feet tucked under you, or as far from your neighbors' noses as possible. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a brand new pair of shoes and realizing they’ve been destroyed within a couple weeks.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone to some pretty lengthy extremes to get the smell out. I put my shoes out in the rain for a night, hoping that will help. I throw them in the washing machine. In the dishwasher. I stick dryer sheets in them, and spray them with perfume. I’ve even bought those little scented balls to throw in there. Sometimes it works, but it’s a temporary fix for a persistent problem.

After all, the smell is only a symptom. The real issue is breathability. Waterproof shoes have their purpose, sure, but do you really need all of your shoes to be waterproof? Chances are, you don’t. It’s time to catch the problem at its roots.

 Handmade Ladies' Giselle Ballerinas Hemp Ballet Flats (Natural Rubber Sole)

Handmade Ladies' Giselle Ballerinas Hemp Ballet Flats (Natural Rubber Sole)

Breathable shoes will help keep your feet comfortably dry all day long. They are magical. Rawganique’s shoes are all-natural and made of organic hemp, without the chemical finishes that seal the fabric’s fibers and trap moisture. Rawganique's hemp shoes are water resistant (a slight drizzle is fine) but not waterproofed. The good news is hemp fibers have hollow cores, which allow them to insulate in cold weather and wick moisture in warm weather, keeping your feet comfortable all year, in all areas of the world. Hemp is nature’s true smart fiber: it's the oldest fiber known to humankind and still the most perfect fiber for footwear. When it comes to shoes, breathability is everything. Untreated organically grown and handmade hemp shoes are a game changer, and Rawganique has been making many different styles of handmade shoes at its small European atelier since 1997.

I’ve owned a pair of Rawganique hemp boots for some time now, and they still don’t stink. I can take them off at the end of the day without thinking about how they might smell, and without needing to change my socks. For once I have happy, healthy feet. And you know what else is happy? My conscience. Hemp is truly a one-step solution to sweaty or fungus-infected feet.

 Handmade Urban Explorer Hemp Sneakers

Handmade Urban Explorer Hemp Sneakers

We make all of our shoes 100% sweatshop-free. Our shoes are actually handmade by skilled artisans in our European Atelier. These craftsmen and women are paid fair wages as they deserve, and are members of the family; many have been with us for 20 years. Very few shoe companies can make these same promises, backed by 20 years of happy, healthy feet.

"Your shoes saved my feet! I had no idea that all my foot problems could be solved by simply switching to Rawganique's hemp shoes. I wish I had known this much sooner. I had tried everything but none of the leather shoes or micro fiber shoes I ever had breathed! They looked great but they stink up my feet. Big time. Gross! Your shoes look amazing (I get compliments all the time) but what's most amazing is that they keep my feet cozy and dry all day. Thank YOU!!! Lifelong customer here. Your zippered hemp boots are a game changer for me. No more laces. I just zip them up and off I go." Josh Y.

Browse our comprehensive selection of handmade hemp shoes, boots, slippers, sandals, socks, and insoles today. You'll be sure to find the styles that jive with your lifestyle. And send us comments, photos, or drawings of styles that you would like to see in Rawganique's future footwear collections. Bye, bye sweaty feet. Hello healthy feet.

Shop now: http://www.rawganique.co/vegan-hemp-footwear-s/101.htm

Organic Cotton, Linen, & Hemp Sheets Decoded: 6 Things To Know

You are ready to purify your home. You know you want pure and natural. You know you want organic and sweatshop-free. You know you want undyed and sustainable.  How do you decide which of the three organic sheets would work best for you?

 Organic sateen cotton (top), organic linen (middle), and organic hemp (bottom) sheets.

Organic sateen cotton (top), organic linen (middle), and organic hemp (bottom) sheets.

At Rawganique Atelier, we have been growing, weaving and making organic cotton, linen, and hemp sheets since 1997. We touch, feel, and sleep with these fabrics everyday, and we can identify them with our eyes closed. This is why we are excited about opening our flagship retail store in Blaine, WA, so that customers who are in the Pacific Northwest can come and experience our different organic fabrics in person. We are very excited about it, and we hope you are too! 

Until then, let us describe the differences for you.

 

1) The Look, Touch & Feel

The Look:

The natural, unprocessed color of hemp fiber ranges from light beige to grey beige. We call it Desert Sand.  The color of our natural unbleached and undyed organic hemp sheets differs from batch to batch. If the harvest season is sunny, we get a lighter beige color, and if it’s prone to rain, then the color shifts towards beige grey.

 Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic hemp bed sheets

Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic hemp bed sheets

Linen’s natural color is silver-platinum grey. We call it Evening Sand Dunes. Linen’s tone is much more consistent,  regardless of the weather, across the different harvest seasons.

It must be mentioned here that we grow our hemp and linen in Europe the traditional way and process them the traditional organic ways as well. We mix our linen fibers from 39 fields to maintain the integrity of the fiber and never grow a crop more than every seven years in any given field, to give the ground time to regenerate. We do the same with our hemp fibers.

 Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic linen bed sheets in fine (top) and extra fine (bottom).

Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic linen bed sheets in fine (top) and extra fine (bottom).

You may know natural organic cotton color to be off-white, but this hasn’t always been the case. Thousands of years ago, cotton came in green or brown, and years of hybridization has resulted in the current off-white color.

Cotton fibers comes from the fluff in the mature pods of the cotton plant. They are then cleaned and ring-spun into yarn which can be initiated or woven. Cotton can be spun into very fine yarns, resulting in a silky smooth fabric like our organic cotton sateen sheets.

 Organic sateen cotton sheets

Organic sateen cotton sheets

Linen and hemp, on the other hand, are called bast fibers, which are fibers that are extracted from stalks of plants (in this case the flax and hemp plants). The process of separating the tough outer skin from the finer fibers inside is called retting (by natural fermentation in our case, and by acid or caustic sodas in most other cases) and scutching (which further refines the rougher fibers for ropes from the finer fibers for fabrics). We then comb and spin the finer fibers into beautiful long strands that can be woven or knitted into fine fabrics.  Whereas cotton fabrics are graded by thread count (up until about 340 thread count is great and smooth while still maintaining the durability and integrity of the cotton yarn) and hemp and linen fabrics are graded by weight (how many ounces per square yard).

The Touch & Feel:

Organic linen and hemp have hollow cores of varying thickness over the length of the long-strand fiber. This makes the fabrics richly textured. You can feel the fibrous and expansive texture of the yarn, which is a sensual tactile experience for many people. Hemp and linen fabrics that have been grown and processed traditionally and organically have characteristic naps throughout. These naps are highly prized by linen and hemp connoisseurs for being the mark of high-quality, naturally processed linens.

 Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic linen (left) and organic hemp (right) fabric.

Natural (unbleached, undyed) organic linen (left) and organic hemp (right) fabric.

Why are we describing hemp and linen fabrics together? Both are bast fibers that come from plant stalks (the cannabis hemp and flax linen plants, respectively). They are  processed the same way, and share many similarities in look and feel. In fact, the untrained eye would struggle to tell them apart. 

In general, linen can be made into slightly finer fabric than hemp, making it sometimes a bit smoother to the touch of your hand. In contrast, hemp, is more versatile and can be transformed into a wider range of products.

What is unique about cotton is its ability to be transformed into several varieties of look and feel: flannel and fleece are more plush and fuzzy, whereas sateen and percale are more silky and smooth.

Cotton is, by far, the most familiar of the three fabrics for most people today. That’s because, like many labor-intensive industries, it’s subsidized, and therefore made artificially cheaply available. Unfortunately, organic cotton is not (organic cotton is cotton grown and processed without pesticides, GMO, and chemicals). You can get just about anything made from conventional cotton - most often in the GMO form that is grown with pesticides and processed with chemicals. 

Historical note: Until Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, linen and hemp were far more prevalent, because these fibers could be grown on any scale (even in your own backyard!), whereas cotton needed large plantations, cheap or free labor, and big machinery in order to be economical. Then came the cotton gin, the slave trade, and public subsidies for plantations, and the rest is history.  Cotton is a lot more intensive on water and land than either linen or hemp, which requires almost no water and, when grown organically like we do, no pesticides or chemical fertilizers to grow.

 

2) Durability

 Organic hemp rope

Organic hemp rope

Hemp is known as the strongest natural fiber in the world. But what many people fail to understand is that its strength is mostly tensile, applying to linear force. For example, when hemp is twisted or braided into cords and ropes, the fiber’s strength is unmatched among natural fibers.

Organic cotton, while lacking in tensile strength, proves very durable as fabric because it can better withstand repeated friction.

The durability of hemp and linen really comes down to the way it is cared for and washed over time.

In all three cases, we recommend washing as rarely as possible. Use a front-loading washing machine, or a top loader without an agitating core. It’s very important that you keep organic fabrics away from high dry heat. Most modern dryers will weaken your natural fibers, rendering the yarn brittle and shortening the useful life span of the garment, so use them sparingly and always on a low/gentle cycle and remove your linens promptly just when they are about to dry.

Historical Note: Hemp and linen sheets have historically bound generations; they were passed on from mother to daughter, and so on. Of course, people didn’t launder their sheets every week as people do now. Nor did they use chemical detergents, bleach, agitators, or high-heat dryers.

 

3) Stretchability

As all three are woven fabrics, they are about equal in elasticity. 

Our organic cotton knit and fleece sheets will provide more stretch because knits are naturally more flexible than woven fabrics.

 

4) Absorbency

If you sweat while your sleep, you’ll be happy to know that organic linen and hemp sheets are both absorbent and breathable. They are efficient at wicking moisture, so you don’t wake up drenched in the middle of the night. The oldest fiber known to humankind, hemp, is also the smartest fiber around. Hemp doesn’t need nano fibers or any microchips to keep you comfortable and dry the whole night long.  

In this regard, cotton simply does’t compare to hemp and linen because cotton fabrics are smooth and silky and not adept at wicking away moisture as well as hemp or linen. In fact, hemp and linen both absorb 150% of their weight in water, whereas cotton absorbs about 100%.

 

5) Breathability & Insulation

Thanks to the hollow cores of bast fibers, fabrics made from hemp and linen insulate very well. It’s a paradox, and honestly hard to comprehend. Hemp and linen clothes will keep you cool and dry in the heat by wicking away moisture, AND their hollow cores will protect you from the cold by trapping your own body heat to warm you. Amazing, eh?

 Organic unbleached, undyed french flax linen bed sheets

Organic unbleached, undyed french flax linen bed sheets

And hemp and linen fabric are generally more breathable than cotton. Hemp and linen sheets are great for year-round use. It takes but a few minutes in bed to feel comfortable and cozy. Because organic cotton yarns are so fine and uniform, cotton fabrics aren’t as great as hemp and linen in terms of insulation. Some people prefer the silkiness and smoothness of our organic cotton sheets, and others prefer the breathability and coziness of organic linen and hemp sheets. Organic cotton sheets are more breathable than polyester and other synthetic fabrics like bamboo or rayon sheets, but they just aren’t as breathable as hemp or linen sheets.

 

6) Wrinkle-Resistance

This one you know already. Hemp and linen will wrinkle, then relax again with ambient moisture. Organic cotton doesn’t wrinkle nearly as easily, and bounces back quickly, too. 

While highly prized traditional linen and hemp sheets from Ireland, France, and England were ironed crisp, our organic linen and hemp sheets are offered in relaxed, un-ironed state that is both casual and luxurious. Our customers love that the coziness of hemp and linen can be experienced right out of the box. The relaxed bed can look very modern and inviting. We offer ironed organic linen and hemp sheets as well. 

 

The Verdict

This is where it gets tricky. For every person who swears by organic cotton sheets, there is someone else who won’t settle for anything but hemp or linen sheets. It really comes down to a matter of preference. If you’re looking for bragging rights, choose hemp and linen. If you’re a night-sweater, FOR SURE go with organic hemp and linen. If you like texture, definitely hemp or linen. But if you want a smooth as silk experience while you sleep, then go with organic cotton sheets.

 

The Rawganique Difference (One More Thing)

At Rawganique, we create the purest and most authentic organic cotton, linen, and hemp sheets on the planet. We spent years collecting vintage linens at flea markets all over the world to help us perfect the craft of old-world luxury linens. It’s our true passion and calling in life.

 Organic sateen cotton (top), organic linen (middle), and organic hemp (bottom) bed sheets.

Organic sateen cotton (top), organic linen (middle), and organic hemp (bottom) bed sheets.

At our ateliers, we grow  and process our organic fibers the traditional way. No pesticides, no GMOs, no acids and caustic sodas. No dioxin, no formaldehyde. We dew-ret, scutch, and mechanically comb our hemp and linen fibers the way it’s been done in Europe for hundreds of years. Often, large scale production defeats the purpose of hemp and linen by boiling down hemp and linen fibers with acids and caustic sodas into a pulp that can then be spun like cotton. Hemp and linen are different than cotton, and that’s the beauty of biodiversity. We strive to protect and promote, even celebrate, the differences in the three amazing natural fibers that we work with.

All of Rawganique’s products are made in USA, Canada, and Europe by artisans. They are all sweatshop-free, animal-friendly, and cruelty-free.

Still not sure which sheet set to go with? We recommend you sleep on it. Literally. Get a pillowcase in each fabric and sleep on it. Then you’ll know. Many people lose their hemp and linen virginity at Rawganique, and we have to say that almost all of them have become lifelong champions of the these amazingly versatile and environmentally plant fibers. By wearing hemp and sleeping on hemp especially, you can literally change the world.  Our customers do mix and match organic cotton, linen, and hemp in their wardrobe, according to their preferences for certain qualities in each item in their wardrobe. 

If you have more questions, please ask us! Send us an email at info@rawganique.co and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions about the three organic fibers we are very passionate about!

Which of the three do you prefer? Let us know!

The 5-in-One Sustainable Cleaning Product: Soap Nuts

Soap nuts (also known as soap berries) have been used for thousands of years as a natural detergent and cleaner. They come from the Soapnut Tree, and their shells contain a naturally occurring surfactant called saponin. Surfactants help remove dirt and particles from surfaces and clothing, making soap nuts a very effective cleaning product. Traditional commercial soap and detergents use chemical surfactants, which are often toxic. Imagine: you could be washing your clothes and your home in carcinogenic substances every day!

 Himalayan Soap Nuts

Himalayan Soap Nuts

If you want to aspire to live chemical-free, using soap nuts around the house is a great place to start. Below are 5 uses for soap nuts that will help contribute to a sustainable and economical lifestyle!

1. Liquid Soap & All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Crush or mash berries to release saponins
  • Boil (two berries for every one cup of water)
  • Allow water to cool
  • Strain through a muslin cloth
  • Add desired essential oils (optional)
  • Store in the fridge to prevent spoiling

Leftover soap nuts and the muslin cloth can be used in combination as detergent for one load of laundry.

Your liquid soap can be turned into an all-purpose cleaner by simply putting it in a spray bottle. Use it on all surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom.

2. Laundry Detergent

This is the most common use for soap nuts. They will replace both your laundry detergent and your fabric softener. Simply add 1-2 berries to a load laundry to be washed in hot water (these will last for 2 washes), or 6-8 berries for a cold wash (these will last 6 washes).

If you are unsure whether your berries are still usable, squeeze the shell. It should release a liquid if they are still good.

You can also use the liquid soap (above) as laundry detergent if this is preferable.

 Himalayan Soap Nuts

Himalayan Soap Nuts

3. Dishwasher Detergent

For those who use dishwashers, place 2-5 soap nuts in your silverware holder for each run. White vinegar can be added to the wash as well, and will act as a natural rinse aid during the cycle.

If you wash dishes by hand, the liquid soap mentioned above will work for this as well.

4. Body Care

Soap berries can also be used to wash your hair and skin!

For natural, hair loss-preventing shampoo, mix the liquid soap with water and store in a recycled jar. The best ratio is ½ to 1 ounce of liquid soap for every 12 ounces of water. Adding baking soda will strengthen the mixture. The shampoo can be used as normal, by rubbing through your scalp and rinsing.

The same mixture used as shampoo can be used as body wash as well. You can even add your favorite aromatherapy to leave the bathroom smelling wonderful. Who would have thought bathing could be so simple, and economical!

5. Glass Cleaner

Clean your windows and mirrors naturally by mixing white vinegar with the liquid soap (half and half). Pour into a spray bottle for ease of use. And of course, essential oils are a must!

Detox Your Personal Care Products

Reading ingredient labels on food and bodycare products can be awfully daunting, especially when the list is long and full of impossible, mysterious words. Let’s be honest, you probably can’t even pronounce half of them, let alone describe what they are or what they’re for.

 Organic Minimal Ingredient Personal Care Products by Rawganique

Organic Minimal Ingredient Personal Care Products by Rawganique

If we do (perhaps reluctantly) take the time to read the label, it will most likely be that of a food product. As consumers, we are naturally more concerned with what we put in our bodies, rather than on them. But the fact is, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and acts as a gateway to the rest of your body. Everything that is put on or around you will be absorbed through 20 square feet of permeable membrane. So, it’s safe to say that whatever you put on your body is equally as important as what you put in your body.

Still, reading labels is daunting and unbearably time-consuming. I envy the person that has the time and patience to read every label on every product they pick up. More than that, selecting bodycare and cosmetic products is a deeply personal, almost scientific endeavor. I’ve spent more time comparing shampoos than I’d like to admit. But what does this have to do with the ingredients list?

 Organic Handmade Hemp Oil Soap Bars

Organic Handmade Hemp Oil Soap Bars

When it comes to bodycare, we are picky, and we are attached. We don’t mess around when it comes to beauty. We want the best. We want toothpaste that whitens our teeth, shampoo that suds up in our hair, and lotion that smells heavenly – don’t even get me started on makeup. And once you find your perfect product, you use the same thing for years. We are, after all, creatures of habit. We also like to have options, and reading labels threatens our ability to choose whatever we want.

I used to convince myself that the ingredient lists were long for a reason. Products must need all of those things in order to work, right? Organic products can’t possibly be as effective, can they?

The truth is, the cosmetics and bodycare industries are not as heavily regulated as, say, food. Anything and everything can be added to shampoo or soap unless that ingredient is undeniably and scientifically proven to be toxic or carcinogenic. In other words, beauty companies can (and do) add just about anything in order to make their products smell and look good enough for you to toss in your cart.

As it turns out, organic products can be just as effective - perhaps just in different ways. For example, most commercial shampoos contain something called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is a chemical that contributes to the suds and bubbles produced when you lather your scalp. It can be found in body wash, shaving cream, toothpaste, and other products. This chemical is also used in cleaning products, and as an insecticide. Did I mention it causes cancer, liver damage, rashes, and depression? Is it just me, or are suds starting to sound overrated…?

So, now that we’re all nice and unsettled, how do we tackle this? How can a reasonable person avoid contaminating their body? I have two perfectly viable options for you.

 Organic Jasmine Rice Powder Scrub, Detoxifying Bamboo Charcoal Mask, Kaffir Lime Shampoo, and Mungbean Powder Facewash by Rawganique

Organic Jasmine Rice Powder Scrub, Detoxifying Bamboo Charcoal Mask, Kaffir Lime Shampoo, and Mungbean Powder Facewash by Rawganique

One: The Abatement Approach. This requires that you obtain a fundamental understanding of the most toxic chemicals and ingredients that may be lurking in your products (i.e. SLS). Once you can recognize a dozen or so of those mysterious ingredients, you can start skimming labels and picking products that lack them.

Two: The Minimalist Approach. Meaning pick products that have the simplest, purest ingredient lists. These products may be harder to find, but they will reward you with transparency and purity.

Option two is my personal preference, but many people are skeptical of single or minimal-ingredient products. However, many of these products are made from ingredients that people have been using for thousands of years. Instead of relying on online reviews to guarantee effectiveness, you can rely on human history.  It doesn’t get much more organic than that. Below is a list of some sustainable, single-ingredient recipes [1] and how they can be incorporated into your beauty routine:

 

Kaffir Lime Shampoo

  • Prevents dandruff, aids eczema, prevents gray hair

Bamboo Charcoal Face Mask

  • Detoxifying - Aids psoriasis, eczema, ringworm

Witch Hazel Skin Toner

  • Itch relief, moisturizing, hydrating
  • Aids ringworm, tinea versicolor, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites

Hemp Soap, Shampoo, & Deodorant

  • Calming, anti-bacterial, moisturizing

Mungbean Powder Facial & Body Wash

  • Cleansing, clarifying

Jasmine Rice Scrub Powder

  • Exfoliating, conditioning, moisturizing

Soap Nuts Detergent, Soap

  • Natural all-purpose cleaning

Neem Oil Skincare

  • Treats psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, chapped skin, wind-burnt skin

Sodium Percarbonate (Salt) Stain removal

  • Removes stains, whitens, disinfects, deodorizes

Lemon Juice moisturizer

  • Aids tinea versicolor, psoriasis

Coconut Oil hair mask, shaving lotion

  • Soothing, moisturizing, prevents irritation, dryness, split ends

Almond Oil cuticle oil, makeup remover

  • Cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing

Argan Oil Nighttime moisturizer

  • Moisturizing, wrinkle resistance

Essential Oils

  • Fragrance, aromatherapy

 

There are tons of products out there with minimal ingredients. In the long run, you’ll save money, time, and stress if you resort to these natural, pure products for all your skincare needs. Mother Nature will take good care of you.

If you decide to take the Abatement Approach, I can provide you with a basic list of chemicals to keep an eye out for [2]. I would highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these names. You’ll be surprised by how many of them you’ll be able to locate on products you use every day.


 Parabens

What are they?

Synthetic compounds widely used as a preservative to stop the growth of damaging microbes such as fungus and bacteria.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propulparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

 Where will I find them?

 Deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, makeups.

Why avoid them?

Parabens disrupt hormone function and reproductive health, which could lead to increased risk of breast cancer. [3]


 Synthetic Colors

What are they?

Essentially a hodge-podge of synthetic chemicals that are used to dye our products and make them pretty.

 Where will I find them?

Soap, lotions, shave gels, toothpastes, shampoos, styling cream, face creams, toners, cleaners, bath gels…. A simpler question would be where can’t you find them.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Red 3
  • Blue 1
  • Green 3
  • Yellow 5
  • FD&C Yellow 6, etc.

 Why avoid them?

They are linked to cancer, allergic reactions, neuron damage, and tumors in the thyroid, adrenal gland, and kidney (depending on the dye). [4]


  Fragrance

 What is it?

 The problem with “Fragrance” is that no one really knows exactly what it consists of. Companies are not required to disclose the [chemical] makeup of their products’ fragrance. If that’s not terrifying enough, I’m not sure what is.

Where will I find it?

Shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup (why??), facial cream, serums, and PERFUME (who knows what’s in this stuff!).

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Fragrance (informative, I know)

Why avoid it?

Fragrance is once again a giant mess of chemicals that makes the scent of your product unique and desirable. Many of these chemicals have health concerns such as links to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. Some have no health data at all, which is arguably more frightening. [5]


Phthalates

What are they?

Chemicals (surprise!) that are used as binders and plasticizers (to increase products’ flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).

Where will I find them?

Color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, nail polish and treatment.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Phthalate
  • DEP
  • DBP
  • DEHP
  • Fragrance

Why avoid it?

They are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. [6]


Triclosan

 What is it?

 Used as an antimicrobial bactericide and a preservative.

Where will I find it?

Antibacterial soap, toothpaste, deodorant, aftershave, lotions, bath products, cleansing products, hair shampoos and conditioners, makeup, and skin care products.

Why avoid it?

Triclosan has been linked to disrupted muscle and hormone function, heart disease, heart failure, and caused skeletal muscles to fail. [7]


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

What is it?

A very common surfactant. As I mentioned earlier, it contributes to the sudsy/foaming component of your personal care and cleaning products.

Where will I find it?

In everything ranging from engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash products, down to your toothpaste and shampoo.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium dodecyl sulfate
  • Also avoid: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Also avoid: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Why avoid it?

They are known to cause skin irritation, eye damage, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, and damage to the immune system (which leaves the body more susceptible to disease and disorders such as cancer). [8]


Formaldehyde

What is it?

A preservative that helps prevent microbes from growing in water-based products.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail and eyelash glue, hair gel and smoothing products, shampoos, body wash, cosmetics.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
  • Glyoxal

Why avoid it?

Formaldehyde is linked to cancer, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. [9]


Toluene

What is it?

A toxic chemical that is used as a solvent to dissolve other substances.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail treatment, hair dyes

On the ingredients label, it looks like:

  • Toluene

Why avoid it?

Toluene is linked to developmental, reproductive, and organ system toxicity, respiratory complications [10]

 


 

Bank Confuses Industrial Hemp With Marijuana, Shuts Down Rawganique's Account

On October 5th, 2017, we received a letter from Umpqua Bank abruptly terminating our 2.5 year banking relationship. Because we sell imported clothing, bedding, and bath products made of hemp fiber, Umpqua has determined that Rawganique “operates a business line that is an excluded line of business,” meaning we are being falsely associated with the marijuana industry (which is a highly regulated industry despite being legal in many states). 

Industrial hemp is in fact a different plant than marijuana, but the two are often associated under the generic term “cannabis.” Cannabis refers to the plant genus that both hemp and marijuana varieties originated from. As our co-founder Klaus Wallner explains, “ Rawganique.co is an organic hemp, linen and cotton clothing company. We don’t have anything to do with marijuana. That’s why this whole situation is so befuddling to us. Industrial hemp is NOT the same as marijuana. Industrial hemp contains ZERO psychoactive THC.” 

In an open letter to Umpqua, Wallner said “Our hemp fiber products cross the US, Canadian, and many other countries’ borders everyday without any problems, because hemp products are legal at both the state and federal level and have always been.” The company has been operating for 20 years and doing business with Umpqua for over two. Despite the obvious lawfulness of our commerce, Umpqua has lumped Rawganique in with the marijuana industry. 

Wallner points out in his letter that hemp seeds and hemp oil are found in all sorts of products, “like Nature’s Path’s cereal products, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (which has hemp oil as a main ingredient), protein bars, and hemp clothing,” yet the bank accounts of grocery stores and clothing stores are not being terminated. 

Our team has now taken it upon ourselves to shed light on this issue. “We have always assumed it’s common knowledge that hemp is different than marijuana,” Wallner said,” and that hemp is in fact a very useful, versatile and important plant.” We plan to use our unfortunate circumstances to educate the public and increase our efforts to spread awareness about industrial hemp.

Since the letter from Umpqua arrived, Wallner has reached out to other banks with local presence to find alternatives. So far, our business has been refused by U.S. Bank on the same grounds. Banner Bank has deferred our inquiry for need of more information. Wallner asked the director of sales at Umpqua, 'Why now? We have had an account in good standing with your bank for over two years.” Their response was that they are now under more rigorous scrutiny due to new FDIC requirements and financial oversight. Banks are being unnecessarily and unfairly cautious, and small businesses are dealing with the consequences.

It doesn't make sense for banks to single us out. We sell hemp fiber clothing, shoes, bed, and bath products, none of which can be smoked or used to get high.

We would like to thank the eco-friendly, sustainability, organic fiber, and hemp communities who have already shown Rawganique immense support on social media, with many expressing disbelief and outrage at the misinformation that still surrounds industrial hemp. After all, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp is food, fuel, medicine, building material, clothing, shoes, paper, and so much more. 

We plan to continue spreading awareness and voicing our advocacy for the industrial hemp industry. If you feel the need to help, please like, comment, and share our social media posts: 

Banking Termination Letter from Umpqua Bank

An Open Letter to Umpqua Bank

Our story has already been shared on three news platforms, The Northern Light, HempToday, and What's Hemppening. Please like, comment and share these articles: