Organic Cotton

Do you know what organic cotton is?

Most of us think of cotton as fluffy, white, and benign. After all, it clothes our newborn babies, dries us after we shower, and covers us up at night. When we think of cotton we think clean and safe.

Unfortunately non-organic cotton farming produces results that are anything but clean and safe. Over 1/3 lb. of hazardous chemical fertilizers and insecticides are used in growing the one lb. of cotton; that is only one T-shirt.

Because of cotton's versatility, it is used for a vast variety of food and fiber products, making it one of the most widely traded commodities on earth.

Yet the simple act of growing and harvesting the one pound of cotton fiber needed to make a T-shirt takes an enormous toll on the earth’s air, water, and soil, not to mention the health of people living and working in cotton country.

When all 19 cotton-growing states are tallied, the crop accounts for 25% of all the pesticides used in the U.S. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In developing countries, where regulations are less stringent, the negative impacts are even more severe.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you know cotton is organic?

    Cotton grown on land free of chemicals for three years is certified as 'organic'. Organically grown cotton is certified by independent third parties and some state agencies to ensure that no synthetic substances were used in the cultivation and harvesting of the fibers.

  • Where do you buy organic cotton?

    See Directory of Organic Cotton Products

  • Why should retailers invest in organically grown cotton?

    Organically grown cotton helps companies meet goals of cleaner water and air quality, as well as satisfying consumer demand. A bona fide organic cotton industry has to start with apparel companies. Manufactures' orders provide the financial backing growers need to take the extra steps to farm biologically, rather than chemically.

  • What is the biggest selling point for organic clothing?

    Aesthetics, quality and price remain the most important consumer concerns. Concerns about the environment, health and safety, and saving the family farm offer an added value to the product.

  • You don't eat it, so why is organically grown cotton really important?

    The fact is that cotton is a food as well as a fiber: seed and fibers are fed to cattle, and cottonseed oil is a main ingredient in processed foods. Because it is so susceptible to weeds and insect pests, and because it is considered a fiber and not a food, farmers use heavy amounts of toxic chemicals to produce it. Finally, because of its many uses, cotton is one of the most widely grown crops in the world, and the amounts of chemicals applied to produce it add up significantly.

    10 Things You Can Do

    1. Buy organically organic cotton products. Make a personal commitment to become educated about where you can find organically grown cotton products.

      If you are interested in making your own quilts with new fabrics, recycled fabrics, naturally dyed fabrics and organically grown cotton fabrics. You can check out this wonderful site Forever Green Quilts.

    2. Ask for organically grown cotton products at your favorite and local clothes stores. Drop a note in the suggestion box, or even chat with the manager or employees!

    3. Write a letter to the editor or an article in your local newspaper about your concern for cotton farmers and your commitment to seeing organic cotton products in your community.

    4. Educate your community. Organize an event for your next club meeting.

    5. Demand that your organization, club or university commit themselves to organic and fair made collegiate clothing.

    6. Organize an organic campaign in your community.

    7. Use organically grown cotton for event and fundraiser bags or t-shirts.

    8. Lobby your city council, university administration and student government to pass an organic cotton purchasing restriction.

    9. Travel to cotton producing regions to visit organic and conventional cotton farmers. Learn about cotton production firsthand!

    10. Get involved in the Care What You Wear movement! Check out the Organic Consumer’s Association - Clothes for a Change

    From Organic Cotton to Organic Sites

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