When it comes to sustainable living, most of us recommend using fabrics that aren’t synthetic. Fast fashion has become famous for the same reason; they use materials that are pretty cheap, harmful to the environment, and don’t have ethical standards. And the first step naturally is to stop buying clothes that aren’t natural. But isn’t cotton a natural fiber? Sure, it is. It has been used to create clothing pieces for centuries.
And there are many advantages too— it is light, soft, breathable, lasts long, and quickly absorbs dyes. In fact, it accounts for 21% of global use, thereby indirectly employing around 250 million people in production.
Regular cotton – the world’s dirtiest crop
Did you know regular cotton comes as the top four genetically modified crops in the world? It is also the world’s dirtiest crop. Why? Because the pesticides that are used – around 80% of it are considered “moderately to highly hazardous” by the World Health Organization. And this cotton makes its way into our clothing, bedding, sheets, towels, etc.
Problems with regular cotton
While cotton is definitely better than its synthetic counterparts, there are many downsides too. Most farmers use pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides to grow regular cotton. Not to mention the enormous amount of water to grow them! (It takes 2,700 gallons of water to grow cotton that’s required for one t-shirt.)
Also, most fast fashion brands blend cotton with other synthetic fibers, making it much easier to greenwash their sustainability claims. But there are better options available in the market.
Enter – Organic cotton.
What is organic cotton?
Basically, organic cotton is grown so that it doesn’t require the use of chemicals and pesticides. No synthetic substances are used. Farmers use organic fertilizers and compost to help the crops thrive. In fact, doing so supports soil fertility and increases biodiversity. Additionally, as no toxic substances are used, it doesn’t harm the environment.
How is organic cotton better?
- It is toxins-free. Organic cotton plants are not genetically modified; no toxic pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides are used in the process. It restores biodiversity and doesn’t kill unnecessary bugs or insects.
- What’s more, is that this fabric emits less CO2 than regular ones. And the difference isn’t 4 to 7% but a massive 46%!! Organic cotton emits 46% less CO2. That’s actually helping our earth’s ozone layer.
- And by using organic farming techniques, certified organic cotton usually requires 62% less energy to grow. And if you are looking for something more – Organic cotton is generally handpicked. Not using machines and other harmful ways reduces waste in the farming process and is beneficial for the workers.
- Also, if you were concerned about greenwashing regarding organic cotton, then breathe a sigh of relief. If cotton is sold as organic in the United States, it should have met the strictest standards and federal regulations.
- An added benefit – certified organic cotton is hypoallergenic.
Besides, if you are thinking that we don’t eat cotton, how will it affect us? Well, you are wrong, fella. As pesticides and insecticides are used to grow conventional cotton – it can affect us terribly. Most of the time, it gets washed off or comes in contact with water bodies. Yup. Also, it’s harmful to the workers (think about the occupational exposure and its side effects.)
What to look for when shopping for organic cotton?
Opt for those clothing pieces or items that are certified organic. You can look for a seal of certification from the USDA. If not then the most famous one is GOTS-certified organic cotton. If it has been certified by GOTS, then best believe it’s the best lot.
To sum it all up
So, this was a little brief about what is organic cotton and why should you choose it over regular cotton. We hope this article helped you to understand the difference between the two and motivated you to make more conscious choices in the future!
Also, if you are looking for some good brands to buy comfy sustainable summer outfits, make sure to give our article Ethical And Sustainable Clothing Brands To Shop This Summer a read!