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Cotton is generally perceived as being a fairly natural product. After all, it comes from a plant crop, and it’s used in products that our skin is continually in contact with, like clothing, towels and bed linen. Unfortunately, conventional cotton is grown and produced with enormous amounts of chemicals. This poses a threat to the health of people and the environment, at every stage from plantation to purchase.
THE PROBLEM WITH CONVENTIONAL COTTON
Conventional cotton was traditionally grown using sustainable farming practices. However in the last 6 or 7 decades, things have changed dramatically. Currently, 25% of the world’s pesticides are used on conventional cotton crops, despite the fact that they only account for 2.5% of agricultural land. Harmful chemical herbicides and fertilizers are also used to grow cotton. These pollute the soil, groundwater, and nearby rivers, and can contaminate local water supplies. Cotton is still hand-picked in many countries, so those working in the fields face risks associated with toxic chemical exposure.
Additionally, chemicals such as formaldehyde and chlorine bleach are used in fabric production. Not only are these harmful to the environment, they pose a threat to the health and safety of consumers, as chemical residues often remain present in cotton fibers.
Still think this sounds like a natural product? Probably not!
THE GOOD NEWS
Fortunately, many farmers, producers and companies are working to address the problems associated with conventional cotton production. Organic Cotton has become increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers are becoming aware of its advantages, which include:
- No use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers
- Manual and organic farming practices that include soil fertility management, hand weeding, and crop rotation- improving the soil, the health of workers, and the local environment
- A GMO-free guarantee (75% of conventional cotton crops are grown from GMO seeds)
- Formaldehyde and heavy-metal free, so no nasty chemical residues
- A great fabric for those with skin allergies and sensitivities, due to lack of chemical irritation
What’s more, organic cotton fabrics are generally colored using low-impact dyes, rather than unsustainable, petroleum-based dyes. As well as being environmentally conscious, companies that use organic cotton are often committed to Fair-Trade practices in the sourcing and manufacturing of product materials. This is not explicitly implied, however, so make an effort to favor companies who state that they use fair-trade practices, whenever possible.
Does that sound more natural? We think so! Now that you know why you should be buying organic cotton, let’s look at what you can get, and where you can get it!
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