Organic Cotton is cotton grown and processed using materials and closely monitored safe agricultural practices that have minimal environmental impact.
Organic cotton is grown from non-GMO seeds and without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Organic cotton, like most natural fabrics, is comfortable, breathable, soft, highly absorbent and 100% biodegradable.
Cotton is the most widely grown fiber in the world. It is commercially grown in about 80 countries and a highly traded commodity with an extremely high demand. To keep up with this demand, cotton farmers resort to artificial means and excessive use of harmful pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers to increase their yield.
Infact, growing conventional cotton is also extremely chemical-intensive, utilizing upto 25% of all agricultural insecticides & 11% of all pesticides. These chemicals have tremendous impact on the environment and the health of people in cotton-growing areas.
Let's delve deeper to understand what makes organic cotton a better choice than conventionally grown cotton?
Organic cotton seeds are untreated and non-GMO. Whereas, non organic cotton seeds are typically treated with fungicides or insecticides, and are always genetically modified. This is so the crops yield more cotton, and are immune to diseases. However, this creates a huge dependency on chemicals.
#2 Soil and water
Non-organic cotton productions always apply synthetic fertilizers, and rarely rotate the soil. This results in a huge loss of natural soil, and requires having very intensive irrigation systems. Meanwhile no toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn’t damage the soil and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy. Organic cotton creates strong soil due to crop rotation and retains water more efficiently.
#3 Weed control
In organic cotton productions, weeds are physically removed through cultivation and hand hoeing. Non-organic cotton, on the other hand, uses herbicides to inhibit weed germination. These herbicides are repeatedly used on a regular basis and become less and less efficient as time goes by. This creates a vicious cycle, creating more and more need for them.
#4 Pest control
Organic cotton farming keeps a healthy balance between pests and natural predators through healthy soil and uses beneficial insects, biological cultural practices to control pests. Cultivation of non-organic cotton heavily uses insecticides and pesticides. Do you know the 9 most commonly pesticides used are known carcinogens? What’s more, the aerial spraying of these chemicals, can have potential dangerous drifts on neighboring communities.
Organic cotton relies mostly on seasonal freeze for defoliation of the cotton while defoliation is achieved with toxic chemicals for non-organic cotton.
#6 Processing & Manufacturing
Conventional cotton relies on a number of potentially harmful chemicals for scouring, washing, and leaching. Chemicals include chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, alkylphenoloxylate (APEO), and ethylenediamine tetra-acetate (EDTA). Dyeing & printing may utilize dyes with high heavy metal & sulfur content and petroleum based pigments.
Organic cotton processing uses natural spinning oils, potato starch, and other natural compounds. Dyeing & printing is done using low impact fiber reactive or natural dyes and low impact water based inks.
#7 Health of cotton farmers
According to the WHO, 20,000 individuals die of cancer and miscarriages each year in developing countries as a result of the chemicals sprayed on conventional cotton. Infact, farm workers around the world are suffering from serious health problems relating to an over exposure to hazardous pesticides, including Asthma, Neurological damage and Cancer.
#8 Your skin
Organic cotton is free of allergens and nasty chemicals contained in chemically grown and processed non organic cotton products. It does not cause any allergy or irritation when it comes into contact with sensitive skin (like baby skin).
Most organic cotton products last many years, compared to non organic cotton products which are heavily treated with chemicals, which causes a huge integrity loss in the fibers. Organic cotton often feels softer than non-organic cotton and is much more absorbent.
Organic cotton is more expensive than conventional cotton because its production takes more time, skill, and hands-on labor but fares well as a long term investment considering its durability.
Our clothes are more than just something we put on our bodies. They not only represent our sense of aesthetics but our ethics too- how we value and treat bodies, our communities and our ecosystems. When you choose organic cotton you choose better health for yourself, for the farmers who grow it and for the environment. Could there be better reason for making the switch?