Organic cotton is what’s in right now—as demonstrated by a 150% growth in the past year. As half of the world’s fiber source, cotton is integrated into every part of our lives. We eat it, sleep on it, wear it, clean with it, yet we rarely think about where it comes from and how it’s made.
Top 5 Reasons to Switch from Conventional to Organic
- Conventionally grown cotton only takes up 3% of the world’s farmland; however, it uses 25% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other crop per unit.
- It takes one third of a pound of pesticides to create enough cotton for one t-shirt.
- According to the EPA, 47% of these insecticides are considered “’possible,’ ‘likely,’ ‘probable,’ or ‘known’ human carcinogens.
- Cotton pesticides are also the culprit for 67 million bird deaths per year.
- Still need one more reason to switch from conventional to organic? In terms of human loss, 20,000 lives are taken each year from farm workers who have frequent contact with these pesticides, many of these deaths are linked to cotton production, according to the World Health Organization.
Organic Cotton: The Good News
Certified organic cotton farmers must adhere to strict guidelines. It’s a process that takes years, since one of the main requirements states that pesticides must be discontinued for at least three years. All fertilizers must be natural and hormone free. In general, the method of growth must promote sustainability, which means composting and crop rotations to encourage biodiversity. By cotton farmers abstaining from pesticides, the birds and bees are happy and so are the humans that harvest it.
Where Can You Get It?
Organic cotton production is a trend that is spreading at an incredible rate. Finding this fabric choice is not only easier to get, but it’s also becoming less expensive. Keep in mind that growing organic cotton is much more expensive than conventional cotton. It’s also more expensive to employ people in other countries with a fair wage, so if the price tag is a bit steeper, consider the working conditions of the cheaper conventional cotton t-shirt on the next rack. Some say that organic cotton is softer and more comfortable--though there’s no actual proof of that, it’s probably more comfortable to know that a child didn’t suffer and that you’re not wearing carcinogens next to your skin.
Here are some good bets for finding organic cotton:
Patagonia: a great place to find organic cotton clothes. In addition to their famous hiking boots and fleece, they carry dresses, tank tops, and more.
Bohmo: an online boutique that has a modest collection of clothing for men, women, and babies, as well as a home line. Their clothing is made up of simple pieces, and all of their products are from organic, sustainable fabrics.
Gaiam: an online store specializing in green products, from yoga mats to organic cotton sweaters: this Boulder-based store has a lot to offer.
Sweetgrass: an online store, their line is carried in many brick and mortar stores across the country as well. They have a great variety of basic pieces and more importantly, an affordable “bargain bin.”
These are just some of the stores that make organic cotton a priority, but this fabric is widely available. Stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Gap, and Banana Republic are also carrying organic clothes.
If you’re already on the organic cotton train, great! If not, don’t feel the need to toss your closet and start over (that would hardly be environmental practice either), just consider future purchases. Many of the stores listed above are having winter clearance sales, so this is a perfect time to buy that perfect organic cotton t-shirt.