Organic Cotton 101: Green Fashion

Green gals know to buy organic cotton. But why? Here’s a run-down on organic cotton and why you should look for it when buying t-shirts, towels, and yet more of those always-disappearing white socks.

Conventional cotton is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. It’s also one of the most chemical-intensive – and all those chemicals have tremendous impact on the earth’s air, water, soil, and the health of people in cotton growing areas.

With nineteen cotton-growing states in our fair union, the cotton crop accounts for roughly twenty-five percent of all pesticides used in the U.S. And these pesticides are classified as among the most toxic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In developing countries, the regulations are even less strict and conventional cotton farming not only floods the environment with toxins but, according to the World Health Organization, also causes thousands of deaths each year from pesticide poisoning.

Simply put, that cotton t-shirt you’re wearing (presuming it’s not organic) added up to 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to the environment. If you’re wearing jeans, add an extra 3/4 of a pound to the noxious mix. Tally up the pairs of jeans in your closet and do the math. (We’re horrified too. And planning to research cheap organic cotton denim at first opportunity.)

Luckily, growers are becoming savvy to the need for organic cotton crops. Chemical-free agricultural methods are employed, including compost and alternative weed management systems (think innovative farm machinery and flame devices). Natural insect enemies are cultivated to keep bugs off the fluffy white crop. It’s more expensive, but more sustainable – for which your grandchildren will thank you.

So look for organic cotton next time the dryer eats your socks.

Want More? Visit our section on Organic Living