January 18, 2022 3 min read
The question of organic vs. non-organic conventional cotton has been a hot topic in the industry for many years now. As sustainability is starting to enter mainstream consciousness, environmental impact is becoming a decision-making factor when purchasing. In order to understand why you should consider the fabric composition of your garment, we will break down what makes organic cotton a viable option over conventional cotton.
The environmental impact of regular cotton production is incredibly polluting to the environment. Often referred to as 'the dirtiest crop on earth' due to the heavy use of toxic pesticides sprayed on the crops, it is farmed using 16% of the worlds pesticides and often next to food supplies and water sources. This affects the neighbouring and local communities as their water supply becomes contaminated with chemicals. As cotton is also a thirsty crop, there is also the use of 2,700 litres of water consumption used to produce just one cotton t-shirt.
Organic cotton is farmed in accordance with specific standards and regulations. In order to be defined as organic, the cotton must come from organic plantations that meet the following requirements:
1. The cultivated land has produced exclusively organic products for the previous three years.
2. The seed is GMO-free and chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides are not used
3. The defoliation is natural
By meeting this criteria and having a clear supply-chain, this meets the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifying superior and ethical production standards.
The cotton farming is the beginning of the supply chain journey and without the farmers work, it wouldn't be possible to create garments or designs. As a fundamental part of the process, it is only fair that farmers are fairly compensated for their work. However with the majority of cotton-farmers coming from developing countries, this is not the case. They often face debt, constant chemical exposure and underpaid wages. If a cotton garment is cheap, often somebody along the supply chain paid the price for it.
Organic cotton farms ensure that farmers are provided with a fair living wage and in healthy conditions free from chemical exposure. By choosing GOTS-certified garments you are helping support better environmental conditions and regulated working conditions for farmers globally.
Your cotton garment is the first point of contact with your body. It is like a second-skin, which means it should be delicate and gentle when worn. However the majority of cotton garments lose their hypoallergenic qualities when treated with chemicals, pesticides, insecticides and even formaldehyde resulting in skin irritations.
Switching to organic cotton allows the skin to breathe and also improve general health overall, as it eliminates exposure to chemicals. Organic cotton fibres are also longer in nature, resulting in more durable yarn and garments as well as retain thermodynamic capabilities, such as staying cool in the heat and warm in the brisk cold. This overall makes for comfortable long-term wear, especially when in the office or at a formal occasion.
Considering GOTS-Certified organic cotton when purchasing garments and products is a choice that is healthier across the board for consumers, farmers and the environment. Whilst the fashion industry has a long way to go in redefining ethical and sustainable business models, we can build awareness towards the implications of our consumer choices and make better purchasing decisions.
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