Why Should Cotton Be Organic?

ByPraveen Manne

Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in apparels today. Chances are 50% of your clothing in the wardrobe is made out of it, this natural fabric accounts for half of all the fabric sold in the world, but sadly it is the most water intensive and pest sensitive crop.

Cotton's susceptibility to pests makes it one of the most pesticide intensive crop, though it is grown only on 2% of the world's crop land, Conventional cotton drives 25% of global sales of insecticides and pesticides. All these poisonous chemicals with devastating effects can cause cancers and irreparable damage as they contaminate the soil and water supplies. Each T-shirt made from conventional Cotton uses 165 grams of synthetic fertilizers and farm chemicals.

Cotton's high chemical usage doesn't just stop at its raw form, its processing into finished fabric and apparel requires various chemical treatments such as bleaching, scouring dyeing, printing etc for improving performance and appearance. Every stage of the process uses toxic chemicals such as peroxides, formaldehyde, phthalates, pvc, lead which are washed off into the environment, at least 8000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into a finished garment. So can anything be done about this?

Organic: Characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms "Organic Cotton"

How is organic cotton different?

Organic cotton production is a system of growing cotton without the need of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides hence decreasing the effects on the soil and all living matter. Once produced the raw material has to be processed in an industry which employs stringent standards like usage of environment friendly dyes, Waste Water Management, minimum social responsibility etc. (if the dye applied was high in chemicals then the benefits of the organic cotton have been lost)

Certified Organic cotton is in short supply and represents just 1% of total production. It is important to check that you are actually buying certified organic cotton, what percentage of a final product is organic cotton and what sort of dye was used on the organic cotton.

Who would monitor such a system, how can the cotton be traced from the origin to the finished good?

GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standards are the standards followed by all entities in the supply chain right from the farmers, industries & brands. The aim of this standard is to define requirements to ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

Author: I am an Engineering graduate with an inclination towards fashion and apparel,in the process of building my brand I have seen the abuse of environment and its comrades in the textile industry, wanting to be responsible made all the difference for me, to see if it would make any difference to you.

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