When choosing that next wardrobe piece, few decisions can have as big an impact as going for organic cotton, and we want to tell you why. Let's get into it :
Getting our skin to say Thank You
We love organic food because of the absence of all those pesticides that are increasingly being proven to have an adverse effect on our health. Our skin is the largest organ on our body, so why would we be ok wearing cotton clothes that have been soaked in chemicals? And we do not use the term 'soaked' lightly. Cotton fields cover 2.4% of the world's agricultural lands, yet absorb an astounding 24% of all insecticides and 11% of all pesticides produced worldwide. Soak that up for a second.
Making it safe for people growing our cotton
Cotton fields are mostly found in countries where environmental and safety standards are not yet in place. All those chemicals run off into the soil, rivers and drinking water holes and create massive pollution and health hazards. Farmers most often do not wear protective gear and are directly exposed to the very harmful effects of the chemicals. Organic cotton farmers use only natural products and clever farming practices to stave off pests, and we're all for being clever.
Getting our soil to keep giving waaaay into the future
Monoculture (the act of growing one single crop on vast areas of land year after year) is depleting our soils and killing biodiversity. Organic cotton farming favours crop rotation and polyculture, which keeps the soil rich and favours biodiversity. If this is not sustainable agriculture, then we don't know what is.
Getting less thirsty
Cotton is a thirsty crop. A very thirsty one. 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of cotton, enough for one t-shirt or pair of jeans. It is difficult to compare the water consumption of organic cotton as this depends on specific conditions related to the area it is being produced as well as the experience of the farmer, but studies done in India and Pakistan by the Better Cotton Initiative (backed by the likes of IKEA and Adidas) have shown a 40-50% water reduction in organic cotton farming. Let's have a (small) drink to that.
Backing organic cotton farmers by increasing demand
For farmers, switching to organic cotton is not easy (only 1% of cotton fields are organic today). The fields have to have been free of chemicals for 3 years to obtain the required certifications, and those impose quite strict conditions ranging from health to environmental to ethical (see GOTS certified organic cotton). The yields are also lower since nature is basically allowed to do its work, and we know that that takes longer. But ultimately, switching to organic cotton can turn out to be more economical for the farmers as chemicals have been known to reach up to 60% of the costs borne by the farmer, and organic cotton sells for a premium. The farmers also own the seeds and can keep planting them, which is not the case for GM (Genetically Modified) cotton seeds (90% of conventional cotton grown worldwide is GM, organic cotton is non GM), where those belong to the big chemical groups and have to be bought from them each year.
Need we say more?
Patagonia, one of the most environmentally militant brands out there (and our Guru from afar), made the decision to clean up their supply chain and go for organic cotton way back in ... 1994. We know they're ahead of the curve. About time we all caught up.
So hop onto the organic cotton bandwagon and let’s make a difference together !