What is Cotton?
Cotton is one of the most popular fibres across the world and accounts for more than half of all fibres needed across the globe. Cotton is made from the natural fibres of cotton plants form the Gossypium genus. The term “cotton” refers to the part of the plant which grows the boll which encases the fluffy cotton fibres. Cotton is spun into yarn which is then woven to create a soft and durable fabric.
Non-Organic VS Organic Cotton
Non-organic cotton if often labelled ‘the dirtiest crop’, this is because of its high demand meaning cotton farmers often resort to artificial means to simulate its growth. This includes the use of GMO seeds which have been modified to build resistance from bugs, however, these bugs soon become resistant and more and more pesticides are required. The excessive amounts of pesticides and herbicides make the cotton plant grow at faster rates and use of insecticides prevent damage from insects. Between 16-25% of the worlds insecticides are used annually in the production of cotton crops, and more than 10% of the words pesticides, resulting in the death of millions of animals who are poisoned by the harmful chemical substances.
These chemicals infiltrate the soil and ruin the natural fertility leaving the land unsuitable for growing other crops. The chemicals also run off into local water systems and rivers in close proximity to the farms resulting in polluted rivers, causing damage to natural resources and disturbing the ecological balance. These chemicals not only infiltrate water systems and farms but also are food and eventually enter our own bodies as carcinogens which can potentially cause cancers. The World Health Organisation (WHO), estimates that 20,000 deaths in developing countries are due to pesticide poisoning, with 77 million cotton workers suffering from poisoning related to pesticide each year.
Alongside this the chemicals used in cotton growing exist in the cotton fibres when they are turned into garments. These damaging chemicals have been related to several skin allergies and many people report significant improvements in skin condition when switching to organic cotton. The high demand for cotton also means it is usually machine picked which causes damage to the purity of fibres leads to loss and wastage of the cotton.
Traditional cotton is also grown on the same soil repeatedly resulting in deterioration of soil quality and removal of natural nutrients which results in unhealthy crops that require more and more water as they irrigated heavily. This results in immense amounts of water wastage, it takes approximately 2,700 litres of water to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt. To put that into perspective its equivalent to 1 persons drinking water for roughly 3 years.
And all of this for just one T-shirt.
Organic cotton is produced using 100% natural seeds, they are completely GMO-Free and there is no use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides or other harmful chemicals. The bugs are controlled with insects that kill the pests. No chemicals means no harm to those cultivating the crops, as a result it is much safer for the workers to harvest the crops, which for organic cotton is done by hand, this helps preserve the quality of every fibre and ensures no damage occurs in the picking process. This results in softer and more durable products as the organic cotton fibres are longer than regular cotton because have not become weakened or broken during the picking process.
Alongside this the lack of harsh chemicals the soil is better able to retain water and natural nutrients. Organic cotton is rotated from one soil to another so the nutrients retain water for longer, this means the land requires less irrigation and produces much healthier crops. As a result it allows the majority of crops to be rain fed as the water is more easily absorbed by the soil to feed the plants. This can lead to an estimated 90% reduction in water wastage. This also allows farmers to grow food crops on the same land, allowing them to diversify their incomes and protect themselves against crop failure, climate viability, price volatility and changes in market demands. By emolliating the use of fertilisers and pesticides organic cotton farming also produces 94% less greenhouse gas emissions as the soil turns into a carbon ‘skink’, helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. In combination with no chemicals for growing the cotton, organic cotton also uses safer alternatives to chemical dyes and whitening agents such as natural or water based dyes. As a result organic cotton products are free form the harmful chemicals which are absorbed by your skin when you wear conventional cotton, this helps provide optimum skin health, with hypoallergic garments.
So to summarise using organic cottons natural fibres helps to protect ecosystems, reduce water wastage and ensures a safer working environment for farmers and manufacturers. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to conventional cotton and yet just 1% of global cotton production is organic. When you buy a product from us you are buying a 100% organic cotton garment which is GTOS certified, you should feel proud that you are being part of the positive change to protect and sustain the beautiful planet that we call home. The future is sustainable.
For more information on cotton please visit https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/fashion-textiles/cottoned-on/ and https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/gots-key-features/organic-fibres
To read more about Dumpstuff's sustainable practices head to our Sustainability section.