Ok… lets’s talk cotton. Cotton is a natural, biodegradable fibre, so it’s good for the environment right? Actually, no, there are two types of cotton production, organic and non-organic, and you may be surprised to find out that non-organic cotton is one of the most destructive practices of our modern world, rightfully earning the title of being the “dirtiest” crop on earth!
So what are the differences between organic and non-organic cotton? Let’s start with the seeds. Non-organic cotton seeds have been genetically modified in order to create bloated crops that yield more product. Because these seeds are not native to their natural environment, they require human intervention in order to thrive. Firstly, they need more water their native counterparts – in fact non-organic cotton production uses 91% more “blue” water than organic cotton production. Secondly these GM seeds do not have the same natural defences as their organic counterparts, making them more vulnerable to certain pest related issues. in order to counteract this problem, companies douse the crops in pesticides and insecticides.
So the organic cotton crops are happily growing away without any chemical intervention whatsoever, meanwhile non-organic cotton crops use more insecticides and pesticides than any other single crop on Earth! Non-organic cotton production is responsible for a massive 16% of all insecticide and 7% of all pesticide use in the world. A shocking fact considering that cotton is responsible for only 2.4% of the worlds cultivated land. These chemicals are sprayed directly onto the fields, penetrating the soil, and washing into the water system.
Because cotton is a product that you wear, rather than eat, the rules on what chemicals are allowed to be used are more lenient and less regulated. The chemicals used by non-organic cotton companies are extremely toxic, often deadly, and many have been linked to cancer. Each day 1000 people die worldwide from pesticide poisoning, many as a direct result of manually spraying fields.
So.. is organic cotton production really any better? Yes, it is vastly better. Organic cotton does not use chemical intervention on crops, instead soil rotation and and habitat maintenance encourages healthy growth naturally. Any weeds are pulled manually, and native pests are controlled with the use of beneficial predators – a natural method that been handed down through farming communities for generations. The crops are 80% rain fed, so as to alleviate pressure on the local water supply. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce just one non-organic cotton t-shirt. In organic cotton production this water usage is reduced by 91%
If we look on a global scale, A lifecycle analysis by PE International found that the total global warming potential for organic cotton was 46% lower than non-organic, so switching to organic cotton has worldwide benefits! However, it also has individual benefits to you, the wearer. After the cotton has been picked, it needs to be processed. Again there is little regulation when it comes to non-organic cotton and many toxic chemicals are added at this stage – harsh petroleum scours, softeners, brighteners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia and formaldehyde – to name just a few. Even after rinsing, remnants of these harsh chemicals can remain in the fibres and irritate the skin, which is why many people find that switching to organic cotton alleviates skin conditions such as eczema. Unfortunately raw organic cotton still needs to undergo some chemical processing in order to turn it into a usable fabric, but it is a much more gentle process, using safer alternatives to caustic chemical dyes and whiteners, creating a finished fabric that is hypoallergenic. You may have noticed that the organic cotton drill that we use for our onesies is naturally off-white, this is because it has not undergone harsh chemical bleaching.
So that’s the story with organic cotton, and that is why I have decided it’s time for BangBangCrash to make the switch. As always, there is no such thing as a perfect fabric, but I promise you to always keep you guys informed.