Why Organic Cotton is So Much Better
The history of cotton gives the false illusion of its natural and sustainable properties. To the naked eye, that’s what it seems. However, under deeper scrutiny the reputation of cotton isn’t so good. But don’t panic, organic cotton could save the day!
What is organic cotton?
Whilst traditionally grown cotton has been dubbed the worlds dirtiest crop, the story is very different when it comes to organic cotton. Organically grown cotton is the only system that eliminates the toxic substances from the environment and still creates a breathable, light textile. In fewer words – no pesticides. Using healthier soil and staying away from harmful pesticides, organic cotton farming is also much better in terms of water consumption. Cotton is known for being a huge drain of water sources whereas organic cotton relies a lot more on rainfall than taking water supplies from surrounding communities.
Whilst we love talking all things organic cotton, it’s important to understand why staying away from traditionally produced cotton is crucial. So let’s start off with the bad part and learn the facts – agreed?
Let’s talk toxic.
The Rodale Institute states that 90 to 95% of all cotton produced worldwide is genetically engineered, leaving only an astonishing 1% of cotton to be made organically and sustainably in a non-toxic environment. Shocking we know! This means that consumers are potentially exposing themselves to harsh toxins.
Although cotton makes up only 2.5% of crops it receives a vast amount more insecticides, pesticides and herbicides that other crops worldwide. These chemicals are among some of the most hazardous in the industry.
And the negative effect don't stop here. Turning raw cotton into fabric creates another level of pollution. More toxic chemicals are used including petroleum, silicone and ammonia – to name a few. Some of the largest exporters in the world has children as young as seven picking cotton with their bare hands. No protective gear is given. (1) The toxic chemicals used to spray the cotton contaminates their skin as well as their drinking water.
Knowing this would you think twice before purchasing products from traditionally produced cotton?
And what about the environment?
As straight forward as we can explain – cotton is thirsty. Not only does traditionally grown cotton depend on chemicals to grow but it also relies on water, extortionate amounts of water. Regular cotton has such a need for water it has drained seas in order to survive. A price that has often cost the life of fish and the livelihood of fisherman. We think this is a price too high to pay for fashion – don't you?
The unexpected.. cotton in our food supply – but how?
You might be thinking it is impossible to eat cotton - how can it be in our food? Well 65% of conventionally produced cotton does actually still end up in the food chain. For example, cottonseed oil is a key ingredient in vitamin E supplements and some types of cooking oil. For any meat eaters out there, the cow and beef you eat is fed with feed containing cottonseed too. Most shockingly is the amount of processed food and beverages that contain cotton cellulose as a way to thicken the product without making it too calorific. This has definitely made us think twice about what we put into our bodies and on top of our bodies. Make sure you read the label next time!
What can we do?
Now if you’ve gotten a little overwhelmed reading that - do not worry! You do not need to give up cotton because there are more and more beautiful sustainable labels out there using certified organic cotton which is so much better for the people all through the supply chain - from the cotton farmers to the people working and transforming the fibers into fabrics, to you! As organic cotton does not contain toxic chemicals. You are also helping the planet by keeping the water pure and the land pesticide free! At Aequem we only stock certified organic, upcycled and recycled labels as well as well-known innovative tech materials labels - check Asmuss who make some of their fabrics from castor bean oil!
We’ve compiled the top brands on the Aequem website that use organic cotton which is a much better alternative to conventionally produced cotton that we absolutely love!
Every single person can do their bit to reduce cotton production and consumption by opting for organic as often as they can and using their clothes as much as possible! Mending is also very important!
Clean up your wardrobe and give a little more thought to your next purchase.
Opt for organic cotton, make sure to find the items coloured with natural dyes. Let's make change happen together!
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P.S. We plant 10 trees with every purchase!!
Information sourced – (1) Mercola 2017, Rodale Institute 2014, soilassociation.org.