What is Organic Cotton - and why does it matter?
Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable or eco-friendly does not make it organic. Unless the cotton itself has been grown in an organic fashion it can’t truly be eco-friendly.How is it grown? How is it different?
For cotton to be classed as organic, certain standards need to be met right from the beginning of the growing process. Organic standards prohibit the use of GMO or treated seeds and the soil cannot contain any chemicals from former crops.
Organic cotton is grown in rain-rich areas, with the use of healthy soil that absorbs excess water for drier spells. Organic cotton fields are used as part of crop rotation to maintain a natural balance in the soil.
Organic cotton is harvested when the plant naturally defoliate due to the end of the growing season, normally after a frost. In non-organic cotton farming, defoliation is prompted by toxic chemical spray.
It’s reported that non organic cotton uses 16% of the world's pesticides; this includes herbicides (to destroy weeds), insecticides (to get rid of insects) and defoilants (which remove leaves to make the crop easier to pick).
The use of pesticides in non organic cotton is more than any other crop in the world. This leads to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides building up and entering the ground, air, water and food supply. There has been evidence to show that this can have serious health consequences, ranging from asthma to cancer.
Organic cotton doesn’t use toxic pesticides, by choosing organic cotton products it's an easy way to help protect yourself and the environment.
There is an argument that because organic cotton produces less fibre than it’s non organic counterpart, it uses more water. Whilst it is true on the surface, organic cotton is planted in rain fed healthy soil which soaks up flood water to help during periods of drought. With hazardous synthetic pesticides and fertilisers being banned in organic farming, rivers, lakes and drinking water are kept cleaner and safer too.
Organic cotton growers typically utilize rain far more than irrigation. On top of that, organic cotton growers use beneficial insects to control unwanted pests instead of relying on harmful chemicals, thus encouraging biodiversity through the use of natural solutions rather than using synthetic chemicals.
Texture of organic cotton
Pesticide grown cotton can leave an irritant texture to clothing which has been noticed by many customers at certain big fashion retailers.
Clothing made from organic cottons have a similar feel to linen, without the extra weight. Natural cottons are not chemically stripped of their natural wax, so they have a natural smoothness to them.
Why does it matter to you?
Wearing organic cotton creates a better, healthier environment for the farmers who are producing it, and their families. The process is far less polluting as less CO2e is created and little to no pesticides are used in production. The quality of the cotton has been shown to be better, so you get great hard wearing clothing and help the planet along the way, win-win!