Safia interviews Peter Melchett for Organic Fashion and Textiles Weekend

This Saturday and Sunday, it’s Organic Fashion & Textiles Weekend. The weekend is part of Soil Association’s Organic September: Small Changes, Big Difference – a month long campaign to celebrate and encourage the use of organic products in our everyday lives.


Small Changes, Big Difference is the UK’s biggest celebration of all things organic, encouraging shoppers to switch just one product they buy to organic, whether it be organic eggs, milk or fruit, or even gorgeous organic cotton clothing.

Today on our blog, People Tree’s Safia Minney speaks exclusively with Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association, in support of Organic September. They discuss why the campaign is important to the future of Fair Trade fashion, and what changes they hope it will make in our attitudes towards organic products.

Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association
Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association

Safia Minney: You’re getting geared up for Organic September with some killer stats and research about the benefits of organic cotton – which facts are you most excited about?

Peter Melchett: The fact that organic cotton saves precious water, helps to combat climate change and helps farmers feed their families really stand out as undisputable reasons why organic cotton really is the gold standard when it comes to sustainable fashion.

Safia: Reducing carbon and water use…why is that important and what does environmental justice mean to you?

Peter: Cotton is produced by some of the poorest communities in the world where the impacts of climate change are felt most severely. Buying organic cotton is a simple way that we, in the West, can contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change, as amongst other things, organic cotton is proven to save and protect water resources and reduce carbon emissions. For example, the water pollution impact of organic has been shown to be 98% less than non-organic cotton production.

organic cotton colours
Organic cotton production reduces water pollution impact by 98%

To me, environmental justice means: fairness, sharing our planet’s finite resources, and taking responsibility for the global impact of the choices we make on the High Street. Organic cotton production embodies all of these things.

Safia: What do you hope Organic September will achieve, and how do people get involved?

Peter: The Soil Association is launching the Small Changes, Big Difference campaign this Organic September to show the huge difference people can make by switching one household item to organic. The campaign will be the UK’s biggest celebration of all things organic.

We’re encouraging people to make one small change to their shopping habits in order to make a big difference to sustainable food, animal welfare and the environment. The small changes could be buying an organic cotton dress, switching to organic milk, choosing an organic moisturiser or signing up for an organic veg box.

Small Changes: buy an Organic Veg Box
Small Changes: buy an Organic Veg Box

People can show what small change they’ll be making on the Small Changes, Big Difference website – where there will also be offers, competitions, and farm visits to get involved with. You can also pledge your small changes by tweeting us using the hashtag #SmallChanges.

Safia: Over 60% of People Tree’s collection is 100% organic cotton, and it’s Fair Trade too! Do you have a message for People Tree customers who buy organic cotton and Fair Trade, and care passionately about people and the planet?

Peter: People Tree customers should feel proud that they’ve made a choice which has been proven to make a real and positive difference to people and to planet! People can find out more about the benefits of organic cotton (from putting farmers in control, to saving water) by looking at the ‘Have you cottoned on yet?’ campaign report – which can all be seen at


There is still plenty to do however, and we invite People Tree customers to think about other Small Changes they could make in their lives, such as making their beauty regime more than skin deep by switching to an organic moisturiser or lipstick.

Safia: Finally, can you tell us why you awarded People Tree with the Best Organic Textile Product award earlier this year?

Peter: The judges of the Natural and Organic Awards said that the People Tree Josie Square Print Dress was:

“Pretty and well made”

“A clear winner performing well across all criteria”

“Excellent in terms of benefits to farmers and the environment – a clear winner!”

People Tree are really pleased that our Josie Dress won a Best Organic Textile Product award, and it’s great to see so much being done to raise awareness for organic fashion this weekend for Organic September.

Josie Dress (was £80 now £56)

Make your own small change by buying something organic from our latest collection – then make sure you tweet #SmallChanges and @PeopleTree with your purchase!


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