Organic cotton is an eco-friendly version of ordinary cotton. If cotton has to be sold as organic cotton, it has to meet strict standards. With increasing number of consumers, conscious of protecting nature and supporting sustainable production, the importance of organic cotton is increasing day by day and the reasons why it is considered better is very obvious.
Known for its softness, absorbency, breathability and overall comfort in wearing as well as acceptable durability, cotton fabric is usually the first choice when you are looking for buying fabric. But as you know already, not every cotton is the same. Cotton is available in many different types, thicknesses, textures, price. So organic cotton which is basically a sustainable and ecofriendly version of cotton has great significance in the clothing industry.
In this article I will cover:
Why is Organic Cotton considered better than other varieties of cotton?
Benefits of Buying Organic cotton fabric
Switching to organic cotton could consciously be the best decision you make because of the following reasons:
- Sustainable and Pro-nature : As I previously discussed in this article, organic cotton is so much more environmental-friendly. It is ethically produced, more sustainable, and overall chemical-free. Compared to normal in-organically made cotton, the manufacturing processes of organic cotton are a lot more rigid and follow strict standards. This not only minimizes the negative impact on the environment but ensures high customer value.
- The organic cotton fiber is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Unlike in the cultivation of ordinary cotton, toxic and persistent disease-causing pesticides, (like Endosulphan) and synthetic fertilizers are avoided altogether. This organic production allows for replenishing and maintaining soil fertility.
- Better for your health and skin : The primary difference between non-organic and organic cotton is that the latter is remarkably softer and a lot better on the skin.
- Plus, its lack of chemical treatments makes for the best alternative if you have skin allergies or other ailments.
- In addition, it is non-irritable, breathable, and suits sensitive skin.
- Better environmental outcomes for the future: Organic cotton farming with its better farming practices such as crop rotation, better water usage, and soil preservation, safe and natural pest removal, organic fertilizer usage is your best bet if you want the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
Non-organic Cotton vs Organic cotton
Around 30 million tons of cotton is produced every year. Cotton remains one of the most pesticides sprayed crops in the world despite its unmatched popularity. According to reports that emerge, cotton farming accounts for 25% of the world’s insecticides and about 10% of the pesticides.
A huge amount of herbicides (chemicals for weed removal) and defoliants (herbicidal chemicals sprayed or dusted on plants to cause their leaves to fall off) are often always used in the process of cultivation and extraction of cotton fibers.
Reference : https://ecocotton2012.wordpress.com/environmental-impacts/pesticide-usage/ ; Use of pesticides and diseases
Growing one pound of unbleached cotton needs a third of its portion as chemical fertilizers. 150 pounds of synthetic fertilizer gets used up for every acre, averaging up to 2 billion pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer per crop. Many of them have proved to be Carcinogenic.
Now imagine small kids wearing clothes created with these heavily treated, processed, and sprayed cotton? It is not a pleasant thought.
With organic cotton, you do not need to fear how it is made. It is made under controlled farming practices using the least amount of fertilizers and following all the norms and regulations that organic farming calls for.
Organic cotton costs more than conventional cotton. The cotton farmers have to maintain their livelihood. The cost of organic cotton will have to cover the extra in organic value addition.
How is organic cotton cultivated?
Other than all the differences, one of the important buying criteria for cotton is ‘how is the cotton made‘ or it should be. To give you a more comprehensive idea of organic cotton cultivation, I will try to break the processes from seed preparation to dyeing.
Only natural, untreated non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds are picked for cultivation. In many countries such as the US, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds for organic cotton farming. The health of the soil in the growth terrain will be maintained through a series of steps such as crop rotation; only organic matter is used as fertilizers.
To ensure weed control, beneficial insects and trap crops are used instead of aerial spraying of insecticides or pesticides. This helps maintain and preserve the natural balance of the soil and keeps the farmland healthy.
When it comes to harvesting, natural defoliation is preferred over artificial or induced defoliation with toxic chemicals. To facilitate organic and natural harvesting, freezing temperatures and/ or use of proper water management is practiced. To project the crops, warp fibers are stabilized by double-plying or nontoxic cornstarch.
When it comes to whitening of the fibers, organic cotton steers clear from chlorine bleaching which is what makes your regular cotton white, and uses safe peroxides instead.
To finish off, it is soft scoured in warm water with soda ash, for a pH of 7.5 to 8. Finally, when it is taken for dyeing, low-impact fiber-reactive or natural dyes with low metal and sulfur content are used.
All things considered, organic cotton is the safer, more sustainable future of clothing.
Are you up for the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge in which many brands and retailers are ready to committed to source 100% of their cotton from the most sustainable sources by the year 2025. As consumers, we have a right to be in charge of the future, too.
Reference: Organic Cotton fabric details; Another good article on the goodness of organic cotton; ota.com ; Read more about 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge here ; Non profit organisations working for organic cotton like Cotton connect, Fairtrade international, Pesticide Action network, Soil association, BioRe foundation.
Why is organic cotton considered best for babies?
Organic cotton is free from harmful chemicals that could irritate a baby’s delicate skin or cause allergic reactions. Organic cotton is typically softer and more breathable than conventional cotton and would not cause painful rashes on the soft baby skin. It is super absorbent, breathable and comfortable. I think these points would quite frankly explain why organic cotton is used to make cloth diapers for babies. It allows air to flow freely around your baby’s sensitive skin and reduces rashes formed from chaffing. You can safely buy and use organic cotton fabric for baby clothes.