Why Buy Organic Cotton?
“Organic” is a popular buzzword, and while we may think of organics primarily in relation to food, the impact of organic farming stretches far beyond edibles. Cotton is a major crop and the impact of organic cotton on the environment, farm workers, and public health shouldn’t be underestimated.
Unfortunately, 91% of cotton on the market is produced conventionally, in part because many consumers don’t understand why choosing organic is so important.
While it’s true that farmers grow organic cotton without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, there is a lot more to organic cotton than how it’s grown. In fact, high standards impact every stage of the manufacture of goods from organic cotton.
Here’s how the organic cotton timeline works:
- Non-GMO Seeds: Organic cotton starts with non-GMO seeds. GMO seeds have been modified to handle heavy pesticides, which encourages their use. Pesticides can wreak havoc not only on the environment but on both farmworkers and people who live in family communities. The World Health Organization estimates that 20,000 people in the developing world die each year from pesticide poisoning.
- Organic Farming Standards: Farming with non-GMO seeds and without conventional pesticides and fertilizers means that growers need to use techniques that protect and preserve the soil and the larger ecosystem. Organic farmers rotate crops, a time-honored strategy for preserving soil nutrients. The refusal to use toxic chemicals on the crops also protects farm workers and local communities from accidental poisoning as a result of pesticide handling or run-off into the water supply.
- Ethical Milling: After harvest, the cotton arrives at a textile mill. Labor standards for the milling of organic fabrics are high: Workers are paid fairly, work reasonable hours, and there is no child labor.
- Safe, Comfortable Sheets, and Clothing: After milling, this high-quality, organic cotton fabric is made into bedding and clothing. Unlike conventionally grown cotton, organic cotton doesn’t have chemical residues that can irritate your skin. You’ll also find that organic cotton’s manufacturing standards result in a more comfortable, longer-lasting fabric.
The decision to go organic has a huge impact on people around the world, including yourself! Make a promise to yourself to pay attention to where you’re getting your cotton products. Ask questions and look for the organic label on websites and individual items. Start by checking out this list of eco-friendly clothing companies. You’ll rest easier (in your amazing organic sheets!) knowing that you’ve done the right thing.