by Sage Campbell
Photo by freepik
As people are becoming more aware of the environmental impacts of their clothing choices, natural and eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton is rising in demand. But what is organic cotton and how is it different from the conventional cotton?
What is Organic Cotton?
Organic cotton is cotton that is grown without using toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and is not genetically modified (non-GMO). This means that soil, animals, water systems, farmers and consumers are protected from these harmful chemicals. It also means that the synthetic chemicals are not absorbed into our body when we wear the clothing, which is always a huge plus!
Why Choose Organic Cotton?
There are different reasons people will opt for organic cotton instead of other materials.
Healthier than Conventional Cotton
Because organic cotton does not use toxic synthetic chemicals in the growing process, we don’t need to worry about those chemicals entering our bodies through our skin once the cotton is made into fabrics. Even after washing conventional cotton, the pesticides used to grow that cotton will remain in the fabric. Many people choose organic cotton to avoid this. Imagine wearing a shirt filled with pesticides all day long and how that could impact our health? Therefore, people choose organic.
100% Biodegradable & Plastic-Free!
Firstly, cotton is natural fiber which makes it 100% biodegradable. This means once the garment can no longer be used, it can be composted and break down into the soil in only one to five months. Synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, nylon and acrylic are made of plastic and take 100s of years to break down! These plastic fabrics also release microplastics into our water systems when they are washed and contribute to the plastic crises currently going on in our oceans. Choosing natural fibers like organic cotton goes a long way to prevent plastic from ending up in our soil and our oceans which protects us as well as animals.
Not only is organic cotton an ecofriendly option for the qualities above, but it also can use a lot less water to grow if grown in an area that uses rainfall to water the cotton crops instead of artificial irrigation. It also keeps our soil healthy since beneficial insects and soil bacteria are not killed with toxic pesticides.
Why is it more expensive?
You may have noticed that products made with organic cotton are more expensive than products made with conventional cotton. Why? This is a very good question and what many people wonder. The reason for this is because organic cotton doesn’t use those synthetic pesticides and herbicides that regular cotton does, the yield per acre drops. Organic cotton needs more land and labor to make the same amount as regular cotton.
How do you know your cotton is organic?
Sometimes garments and fabrics are labeled “organic” when they are not. They may only contain a small percentage of organic fiber. The best way to ensure that you are purchasing organic cotton is to make sure it is certified organic. The best certification is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Unlike the Organic Content Standards (OCS) certification, if a garment is GOTS, it means that the environmental and social standards on that garment were higher. But either certification ensures that the garment is made with organic cotton. How much of the garment is organic though? To be GOTS certified, a garment must be at least 70% organic. If shopping online, it should say the fiber content in the descriptions of the products. If it doesn’t, contact the company and they should be able to provide this information.