People today are increasingly mindful of the chemicals that go into the foods they eat and the products they wear. We might not realize it, but cotton is the most popular textile material used all over the world, and accounts for more than half of all fiber needs across the globe.
Do you know why cotton is most widely used to make garments?
The fiber is most often twirled into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. Although cultivated since ancient times, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of fabrication that led to its widespread use, and it is extensively used natural fiber cloth in clothing today. To keep up with this demand, cotton growers resort to synthetic means and excessive use of pesticides to make cotton grow at faster rate. The products manufactured with this type of cotton tend to be full of chemicals which turn out to be harmful for environment as well as people using the products. Numerous people have become more mindful and conscious about these problems in recent times. There is more consideration towards environmental problems, leading to the production and approval of organic materials. Organic cotton has been around, used in making premium towels, bed linen, and clothing. Products made from organic cotton are typically considered high end, and are generally more costly than regular cotton products. The demand for organic cotton products keeps mounting as more people become cognizant of their benefits. There is a world of difference between conventional and organic cotton. Anyone who has used organic cotton products will find it hard coming back to regular cotton. The benefits of organic cotton don’t just stop at the excellence of products.
Production of cotton
How conventional cotton is produced?
Cotton is produced in two ways: either grown dry land or irrigated. Dry land cotton relies on regular rainfall during the summer months to grow, whereas irrigated cotton is fed by water pumped from rivers or underground springs. Conferring from the Water Footprint Network, about 53% of the world’s cotton crop is irrigated, accounting for about 73% of the World’s cotton production.
How organic cotton is produced?
Like conventional cotton, organic cotton is water-intensive to grow—although whether organic cotton uses more or less water than conventional cotton is a matter dispute. According to the non-profit organization Textile Exchange, 70% to 80% of organic cotton is assessed to be rain-fed rather than irrigated. And, the organization notes, not all irrigation essentially uses a ton of water—drip irrigation, for example, works by applying small amounts of water across a specific area. (Drip irrigation is more expensive, though, so it’s not necessarily an option for all countries where cotton is produced). Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without any harmful chemical insecticides or synthetic/artificial fertilizers, meaning it’s better for your health and won’t have a negative impact on running rivers and local water systems.
Organic cotton vs regular cotton
Purity of the cotton:
The purity of cotton fibers is judged from the technique the cotton is extracted. Cotton is either picked by hands or by machines. Organic cotton is completely handpicked, conserving the purity of every fiber and making sure that no fiber is damaged in the process. Regular cotton is more in demand and supply, and is usually machine-picked to deal with the haste. This doesn’t maintain the purity of the fibers, and also damages cotton fibers in the picking process, leading to loss and wastage. Organic cotton products are laxer than regular cotton because of the elongated fibers. Being handpicked guarantees these fibers don’t get weakened or broken, resulting in softer and more resilient products.
The weeding process of regular cotton farming uses harmful chemicals in the form of herbicides that kill weeds. The use of such harmful chemicals affects the quality and excellence of crops, takes out moisture and nutrients from the soil, and also harms the farmers. Out of the total amount of pesticides used in agricultural, more than 25% is used for cotton. They compose highly toxic insecticides and carcinogens. Constant use of such chemicals can lead to serious illnesses in farmers, and affect the nearby environment. In organic cotton manufacturing, weeding is done by hand, hoeing, and different farming procedures.
Processing of regular cotton uses a large quantity of chemicals. The use of heavy metals, chlorine, and chemicals dyes are a part of manufacturing of regular cotton. Even after washing the finished products, the residue of these chemicals remains causing serious skin allergies. People suffer from skin complications like eczema because of regular cotton products. Organic cotton uses nontoxic substitutes to chemical dyes and whiteners. Natural or water-based dyes, peroxide for whitening, and other safer products are used to fabricate the finished goods.
Pros of using Organic Cotton
- There can be less synthetic chemicals, synthetic pesticides, synthetic high nitrogen fertilizers used overall.
- The cotton seed growing and harvesting process can be domestic and more natural.
- The production process (including: dying, bleaching etc.) can be cleaner.
- There can be a lower chance of pesticide resistant pests developing, and secondary pests developing.
- There can be less toxic excess of synthetic chemical into freshwater sources hence less water pollution.
- There can be less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
- There can be less exemplified energy used.
- There can be improved crop diversity (less mono cultural crops).
- There can be better soil health hence less soil contamination.
- The impact on wild life and their eco systems can be reduced.
- There can be lesser health issues on humans that work in the cotton production industries.
- There can be fairer conditions for cotton workers, and cotton farmers (especially in developing or poorer countries).
- There can be less use of fresh water/irrigated water and less water usage overall.
- Reliability by using GE cotton seeds.
- Overall impartiality and leverage of cotton farmers can increase long term with less reliance on resources and inputs that costs money and put farmers in debt.
- Yields of organic cotton prove to be better than conventional cotton in some instances.
- Organic farming overall as a practice has many viable benefits.
- Organic cotton can be softer than regular cotton because of its purity.