Cotton is one of the most abundant fibers you use in your everyday life. It is part of the clothes that you wear, your hygiene products, and the textiles adorning your home. However, cotton isn’t quite the innocuous little plant that it may seem. There are a lot of things that you may not be aware of regarding your cotton consumption.
Cotton Isn’t Great For the Planet
It is true that the cotton industry is great for the economy of a lot of developing nations. However, this little plant can be pretty disruptive to the environment. For one thing, it uses a ton of water. In fact, it may be one of the biggest water-consuming crops that are currently being grown. Let’s put it into perspective: that comfortable cotton t-shirt that you love to do yoga in needed over 2,000 litres of water to produce.
Traditional cotton crops also require the use of pesticides, which can be damaging to the local and global environment. Cotton crops are currently using about 16% of the pesticides that are manufactured in the world. All of this pesticide use can also negatively affect the communities that are near the cotton farms causing health issues and even birth defects.
There are also social factors that need to be considered, as well. In many of the developing countries where massive amounts of cotton are being produced, it is hand-picked. Most of the people harvesting cotton on these farms are children, which keeps them from getting their education. Plus, the work is terribly difficult manual labour that can cause lifelong health problems.
Organic Cotton Makes a World of Difference
No one is suggesting that you give up your amazing sheets or your favourite pair of socks. There is a way to produce cotton that is sustainable and doesn’t harm the environment or the communities. Organic cotton is the alternative that the world needs. In fact, switching to fewer pesticides not only creates healthier communities around the cotton farms, but it can also keep the ground fertile for a longer amount of time, which is great for the farmer too!
Farming cotton without pesticides keeps the waterways pure. While the crop will still be thirsty, the water used in irrigation won’t be seeping back into the water supply full of nasty chemicals that make the surrounding communities sick.
Plus, the social organization like the Global Organic Textile Standard help to ensure that the working conditions on the farms are hygienic and safe. These initiatives also strive to help make sure the marginalized people in the communities such as women and children are not exploited for their labour.
What Can You Do?
The best way for you to combat the traditional cotton industry and all the harm that it is doing is by seeking out brand and products that are exclusively using organic cotton in the creation of their goods. There are plenty of retailers and fashion brands that are members of the Fair Wear Foundation, which certifies that they are only using cotton sourced from organic farms.