You may have heard about organic cotton recently, but is it just a trendy term marketers use to get your attention? Or is organic cotton something to really invest your time and money in?
What exactly is the difference between organic and non-organic cotton? Where regular cotton seeds are treated with fungicides or insecticides and genetically modified, organic cotton seeds are not. Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are used on regular cotton whereas organic cotton productions involve physically removing weeds and a healthy balance between pests and natural predators.
There are a whole range of benefits to organic cotton, everything from being better for the environment to being better for your pets. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified cotton means it meets the leading processing standard for organic fibres. At Ethi, you can shop a variety of brands offering organic cotton such as Bon Label, Recreate, and Arc & Bow.
- The chemical free process of organic cotton farming reduces soil and water pollution.
- The lower impact and higher water retention of organic cotton allows it to use 71% less water and 62% less energy.
- Pesticides and fabric dyes used can be harmful to both us and our pets. Many chemicals not allowed on foods are allowed on cotton. However, pets can ingest cotton in their beds, toys etc.
- Conventional cotton farmers are suffering from some of the worst conditions, facing starvation, unfair wages, exploitation of children and high rates of suicide.
- These farmers also have to be exposed to the different kinds of harmful pesticides and other toxic chemicals used on conventional cotton.
- Organic cotton is more absorbent, particularly useful when being used in sanitary products such as pads and tampons. Organic cotton also means no nasties in that area!
- Many of the leftover chemicals on conventional cotton can cause skin irritation. Organic cotton is hypoallergenic and suitable for people with sensitive skin.
- With less processing and treating, organic cotton is overall softer and feels better on the skin.
- One thing you might have already noticed is that items made with organic cotton tends to be a lot more expensive than items made with regular cotton.
- Mentioned in the advantages was 71% decrease in the use of water with organic cotton. However, these figures are heavily debated and many argue that organic cotton actually uses more water despite retaining water more efficiently. This is because you need more organic plants than conventional plants to get the same amount of fiber.
- Certain organic pesticides have been said to be worse for the environment, even more carcinogenic, than ones used on regular cotton.
Despite the new organic cotton wave taking over the ethical fashion industry, it’s ultimately up to you whether you want to more conscious of it. Despite strong claims on both the conventional and organic cotton sides, there seems to be a consensus that organic cotton meets a higher standard of ethics.
Written by Laura Tien