Why Organic Cotton Matters

Organic cotton matters. There are many pros to organic cotton.  

A few to start:  first, it uses far less water.  Beyond that, the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms.  Obviously these toxins are harmful to consumers, but consider the impact to farmers, workers and wildlife ecosystems as well.  

Some statistics that are revealing: 

  • <1% of all cotton is organic

  • grown cotton uses more insecticides than other crop in the world

  • cotton producers use as much as 25% of the worlds insecticides

  • these pesticides kill people, approximately 20,000 people each year according to the World Health Organization

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.  Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

How is the apparel industry involved with organic cotton?

Apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100 percent organically grown cotton, or blend small percentages of organic cotton with conventional cotton in their products. There are a number of companies driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton.

What kinds of products are made using organic cotton?
As a result of consumer interest, organic cotton fiber is used in everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs and ear swabs), to home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding), children's products (toys, diapers), clothes of all kinds and styles (whether for lounging, sports or the workplace), and even stationery and note cards.
In addition, organic cottonseed is used for animal feed, and organic cottonseed oil is used in a variety of food products, including cookies and chips.

Does cotton growing really have an impact on our environment?
Did you know that cotton production accounts for 25% of all the pesticides used in the whole world each year? If you knew this as yes, then good- you read above and have gotten this far!
What’s more, the 5 pesticides most often used on cotton (cyanide, dicofol, naled, porpargite and triluralin) are scientifically known as Category I and II cancer-causing chemicals
*Over 10,000 people die each year from cancer related to pesticides in America alone.

Pesticides are found not only on plant but run into the rivers, contaminate the groundwater, and even the air when they’re sprayed (less than 25% of the chemical actually lands on the plant when sprayed from a duster.) When you take into account that appox 300 gms of fertilizer is used for each Kg of cotton produced, you have some serious environmental impact.

The problems with clothing production don’t stop in the field. During the conversion of conventional cotton into clothing, numerous toxic chemicals are added at each stage— silicone waxes, harsh petroleum scours, softeners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde— to name just a few.

“Pesticide poisoning is a serious health problem that disproportionately affects infants and children.  Key risks are cancer, birth defects, and damage to the nervous system and the functioning of the endocrine system. At least one million require hospitalization world wide. The number of children involved in such incidents is unknown but, Between one and three agricultural workers per every 100 worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning [1, 2], and adolescents are often the victims.[3, 4]  ( Research conducted by World Health Organization WHO )

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