8 Reasons to Choose Organic Cotton
If you are like us, and like to do your research, then you may be wondering how and why is organic cotton better for the environment than say bamboo viscose or regular cotton.
Perhaps you like to understand the impact of the clothes you wear, the food you eat and the products you use.
Organic cotton, we have found, as a result of extensive research, is one of the best all-round sustainable fabric solutions for underwear. It is grown without the use of pesticides, from seeds which have not been genetically modified and because organic farming practices avoid using harmful chemicals, the land upon which the cotton is grown stays fertile for much longer than land grown with conventional practices. This means that organic cotton farmers can continue to nurture and use the land over time, without degrading it.
Unlike bamboo production, organic cotton does not require chemicals to process it into a soft fabric. The chemicals involved in the creation of bamboo viscose are very harsh and although the raw bamboo product may be natural, the production process undermines the quality and safety of the fabric, for sensitive skin types in particular.
Although there is debate about the amount of water used in cotton farming, it has been found that organic cotton farms require 91% less irrigation than conventional cotton grown on degraded land, because the organic farming practices that nurture the soil do not require as much water consumption.
The benefits of organic cotton are immense, so below we have prepared a summary of the 8 reasons to choose organic cotton:
- QUALITY - Organic cotton is more durable than its conventional counterpart because of the wide variety of chemicals used in the growing and processing of conventional cotton (about 82 of them) which weaken the structure of the fibre and eventual fabric.
- COMFORT Consumers consistently report that organic cotton products feel better against their skin.
- WELLBEING - Chemicals are harmful and have contributed to the escalation of degenerative diseases in our society. They are absorbed through our skin and lungs, especially when body heat causes them to vaporize. Many of the chemicals used in growing, processing and dyeing of conventional cotton and its products never completely wash out. Therefore, they can enter our bodies through the skin.
- AROMA - Being free of additive substances such as formaldehyde, commonly used in the “finishing” of conventional cotton and bamboo, organic cotton has a natural aroma and is naturally softer and more durable than its chemical counterparts whose fibres are weakened by the harsh chemical treatments. That ‘new’ smell when goods are first purchased is usually the aroma of chemicals that have been used in the article’s production.
- ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE - Conventionally farmed cotton is harmful to the environment, using numerous poisons which pollute soils and waterways - and the farm worker. Vast amounts of water, much of it needed to distribute chemical sprays, are consumed to produce the crops. Organically farmed cotton is gentler on the environment, and uses biologically-based growing systems. It is usually hand-picked without the use of defoliants, machinery or chemicals.
- SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE - Every time we purchase a cheap imported conventional cotton product, we support the mindless practices that helped produce it. Every time we purchase an organic product, we affirm conscious, life-enhancing practices – we are helping to build a better world.
- FAIR TRADE - It takes a lot of well intended effort to grow cotton organically. Around the world, the experience is that organic farmers care for their workers by providing a chemical free working environment. Organisations, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), have been working to make sure organic textiles also enhance (or at least do not harm) people’s lives. GOTS covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of textiles, ensuring that both environmental and social standards, such as safe and hygienic working conditions, no workplace discrimination and fair pay rates, are respected
- NOT GENETICALLY MODIFIED - While some 70% of the world’s cotton is now genetically modifed, certified organic cotton is not.
The benefits are clear; using fewer pesticides means that the health of workers improves dramatically, communities can live in relative health with access to clean water and food supplies, and the land has a longer lifespan because it is not being damaged by chemicals.
WHAT DO FARMERS SAY?
“We adopted an integrated watershed approach combined with catchment management with different soil and water conservation measures. Efficient rainwater management acts as insurance for the crop during the rainfall deficit periods.”
Producer Group, Andhra Pradesh
“Soil fertility is enhanced by farmers adding cow dung and urine to a compost of biomass (Cassia, Glyricidia and Sunhemp) to hasten decomposition, and improve soil biology that protects crops from diseases also.”
Producer Group, Odisha
“We have distributed nearly 20,000 Glyricidea plants to our farmers. All our organic farmers intercrop, use trap crops, and rotate their crops every year. Density of trees per square km is very high in the organic pocket compared to the conventional.”
Producer Group, Madhya Pradesh
*Source: Textile Exchange, 2014. Organic Cotton Sustainability Assessment Tool (OC-SAT): Summary of Findings.