We want to give you ‘the dirt’ on cotton. Yes, the pun was absolutely intended. Traditional cotton uses an incredibly high amount of pesticides and insecticides. These are known to have detrimental health effects. Studies have linked pesticides to higher risks of cancer, learning disabilities, and birth defects. They also are damaging to the planet with the industry having a huge carbon footprint.
But let’s get a little more specific. What is the real difference in cotton and why should we be concerned?
When a company produces fabric, the energy used to manufacture the product emits CO2.In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration informs us that the textile industry is the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the US. This produces greenhouse gasses, which destroy the ozone layer which has a profound environmental impact.
KG Of CO2 Emissions per Ton of Spun Fiber
|KG of CO2||Fiber|
|Cotton Conventional (USA)||5.90|
|Cotton Organic (India)||3.80|
Conventional Cotton Farming uses mechanized irrigation, synthetic weed control, pesticides, and fertilizers. Producing one ton of synthetic fertilizer emits nearly 7 tons of CO2 gasses.
Organic Cotton Farming practices use rain-fed irrigation, natural weed control, natural pesticides, and natural fertilizers.With global average temperatures increasing, we need to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making the conscious effort to purchase products that heal our environment instead of pollute it.
Traditional cotton farming is unsustainable because of the large inputs of water, which responsible for the destruction of ecosystems including several River Basins.
Conventional Cotton uses 25% of the world’s pesticides and herbicides. The run-off affects the water supply of every cotton farming community. Farming also uses mechanized irrigation that can use up to 2200 gallons of water to product a single T-shirt and pair of jeans.
Organic Cotton uses natural pest and weed control, which limits the effect on the water supply and farms in India predominately use rain fed irrigation.
Perhaps the most dangerous effect that conventional cotton has comes in the form of our food supply.
Two thirds of cotton harvested is composed of cotton seed, which is separated into oil, meal, and hulls. Cotton seed oil is used heavily in cooking oil, shortening and salad dressing, as well as in preparation of crackers, cookies, and chips.Meal and hulls are also used as feed for livestock, poultry, and fish.
Conventional Cotton uses chemicals that are banned for use in food crops (including Aldicarb, a pesticide which can kill humans if absorbed through the skin). The result is contamination in animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, and more. Conventional cotton seed oil may be highly contaminated and is commonly mixed with other oils (such as olive oil) to reduce costs.
Organic Cotton uses natural weed control and pest control. It doesn’t have the devastating effects on the food supply as traditional cotton production.
How You Can Help
While an organic and traditional bed sheet may have the same yarn type, thread count, weave, and may appear to be identical, they are NOT created equal.
Organic and traditional cotton differ immensely. One negatively affects climate change, water consumption, and our food source while the other positively impacts our world.
But knowledge is power and now that you know the difference between traditional and organic cotton you can make a powerful choice.
Make the bold choice to commit to only purchasing organic cotton.By not adding to the detrimental damage that’s being done to the planet, you are making a huge difference. You have the power to improve the future and to create a lasting change that will benefit others for years to come.