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Organic Cotton FAQ

Have you considered making the switch to organic cotton? If you're like most people, you probably have a few questions about what it is, how it's different, and why it might be worth the investment. This article will explore some of the most common questions about organic cotton, and provide some helpful insights that can guide your decision-making process. Let's get started!

Why Buy Organic Cotton?

These days, it seems like everything is available in an organic version - food, skincare, and even clothing. But what exactly is organic cotton, and why should you choose it over regular cotton?

  • The cotton is also softer and more durable than regular cotton, thanks to the higher quality of the fibers.
  • Organic cotton is cultivated more sustainably, using methods that help to conserve water and soil.
  • As a result, choosing organic cotton helps to support more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.
  • It also helps to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, making it a healthier choice for both you and the planet.
  • Organic cotton is better for the people that grow it

 

Two cotton farmers kneel on a tarp on the ground.  They are processing a large pile of fluffy cotton.

 

What Is the Difference Between Organic and Conventional Cotton?

Organic farming practices do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, farmers rely on natural methods to manage pests and boost crop yields. This includes using cover crops to prevent weeds, encouraging beneficial insects, and rotating crops to break pest cycles. Organic cotton is also typically grown using heirloom seed rather than genetically engineered seed.

In contrast, growth of conventional cotton does use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals can be highly toxic to both the environment and human health. Heirloom seeds are often replaced with genetically modified varieties, which are designed to be resistant to herbicides and pests. As a result, organic cotton is a more sustainable and eco-friendly option.

Where Is Organic Cotton Grown?

Most organic cotton is farmed in developing countries, such as India and China. This is largely due to the lower cost of labor in these countries, as well as the warmer climate, which is necessary for the cotton to grow properly.

However, there are also several organic cotton farms in developed countries, such as the United States and Australia. These farms tend to be smaller in scale and use more environmentally-friendly methods of cultivation, such as drip irrigation and cover cropping. As the demand for organic cotton continues to grow, more farms will likely switch to organic production methods.

By the Numbers

Top 4 countries in global cotton production for the 2018-19 growing season:

  • India - 51%
  • China - 17%
  • Turkey - 10%
  • Kyrgyzstan - 10%

Only 0.1% of cotton produced in the US was organic.

(source: Organic Trade Association)

 

A piece of farm equipment runs through a cotton field during harvest time.

 

How Is Organic Cotton Better for the Environment?

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic farming relies on natural processes, such as crop rotation and mulching, to enhance the soil. In addition, organic cotton is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. This means that there is less chance of these chemicals leaching into the soil and water, where they can damage plant and animal life.

Furthermore, organic agriculture relies on natural methods to fertilize and control pests, which helps to promote biodiversity. Finally, organic cotton farming practices can help to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. As a result, organic cotton farming is not only better for the environment, but also the long-term productivity of the land.

Does Organic Cotton Production Use less water?

Yes! Organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, which means that organic farmers must rely on natural methods to replenish the soil and control pests. They often use cover crops and other green manure to improve the quality of the soil. In addition, they employ irrigation techniques that minimize water waste. As a result, organic cotton tends to be more water-efficient than conventionally grown cotton.

As global water supplies become increasingly strained, the more efficient use of water will become increasingly important. For this reason, organic cotton is likely to play an important role in the future of the textile industry.

By the Numbers

  • 91% - the amount of water consumption that organic cotton production can reduce
  • 2700 - liters of water it takes to produce a regular cotton t-shirt

(source: Organic Trade Association & The Organic Center)

 

A close-up of a rumpled white cotton sheet.

 

Which Toxic Chemicals Will I Avoid by Purchasing Organic Cotton?

According to the Organic Trade Association, the production of conventional cotton in the United States uses more toxic pesticides than all crops other than corn and soybeans. These chemicals can end up in the finished product, which means that they can come into direct contact with your skin. By choosing organic cotton, you can avoid exposure to toxic chemicals like naphthalene, quinclorac, and pendimethalin.

In addition, organic cotton is often produced using more sustainable methods, which can help to protect the environment. For example, organic farmers may use cover crops and compost to improve soil health, rather than relying on chemical fertilizers. As a result, organic cotton is not only better for your health, but it can also be better for the planet.

Organic Textiles Cannot be Treated With:

  • chlorine bleach
  • formaldehyde
  • toxic dyes
  • heavy metals
  • ...among others

Can Organic Cotton Be Composted?

Organic cotton is a type of cotton that is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Unlike conventionally grown cotton, organic cotton is biodegradable and can be composted. Composting is a process of breaking down organic matter into nutrients that can be used to fertilize the soil.

In order to compost organic cotton, it must be placed in a compost bin or pile that is large enough to allow for proper aeration. The compost bin should also be kept moist, but not too wet, to encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi. Once the organic cotton has fully decomposed, it can be added to the soil as a natural fertilizer.

 

A close-up of a cotton boll on a stalk, ready to harvest.

 

Conclusion

So, what’s the verdict? Is organic cotton worth it? The answer is, unequivocally, yes. Organic cotton is better for you, for the environment, and for the farmers who produce it. It takes a little more effort to find products made with organic cotton, but it’s well worth the search. Plus, when you purchase organic cotton products, you are helping to promote sustainable farming practices that protect our planet.