September is organic month - and it’s not just about food. At Baba+Boo, we always use organic cotton for our clothing. Here's why...
Organic cotton. A bit hippyish? Only an option if you’ve got oodles of cash? Well, no. The case for every-day organic cotton is actually incredibly compelling. Once you've seen the facts, we doubt you'll look at simple cotton in the same way again.
So what exactly are the facts?
- ‘Conventional’ cotton is grown using insecticides, pesticides and chemical/man-made fertilisers. Organic cotton is cotton grown without insecticides and pesticides and using ’natural’ fertilisers. This is indisputably better for the environment. There is increasing research to show it’s also much better for our health, especially for babies and young children.
- About 25 million tonnes of cotton are grown every year - about 2.5% of all the arable crops grown in the world.
- Cotton is one of the most environmentally destructive crops in the world - because of its dependence on chemicals and the huge volumes of water it needs.
Water and the environment
- It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to grow enough ‘conventional’ cotton to make one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. (Source: WWF) Organic cotton is estimated to need up to 60% less water than conventional cotton.
- Because cotton is so heavily irrigated, what is sprayed on the crops inevitably ends up in the waterways - which harms the environment as well as the people who depend on it for drinking water.
- Water pollution from organic cotton is estimated to be 98% less than non-organic cotton. (Source: cottoned on)
- Organic cotton growing produces up to 94% less greenhouse gas emissions
- Organic practices turn soil into a carbon 'sink', removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers
- 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% of global sales of insecticides, and 11% of the global sales of pesticides. (Source: WWF) This leads to less biodiversity (all the bugs are killed!) as well as pollution.
- Nitrogen dioxide is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Nitrogen fertilisers are credited with playing a major role in climate change. One of the main uses of nitrogen fertilisers? Growing conventional cotton.
Genetically modified crops
- By 2011 69% of cotton grown worldwide was genetically modified. This means native cotton species are being lost, a lack of biodiversity, and an increase in pests, all of which worries many scientists.
- Genetically modified seeds lose their fertility. That means that farmers have to buy new seed each year - making them dependent on big suppliers. Organic farmers are self-sufficient - they can simply save their seed and plant it the next year.
- Using GM crops to prevent certain pests has led to a surge in other pests. Where GM crops prevented bollworms, farmers instead saw a massive increase in aphids. Paradoxically, farmers in some areas are now spraying more chemicals than before they used GM crops.
- Most chemicals applied during the cultivation and processing of conventional cotton leave chemical residues in the fabrics, which are widely believed to cause allergies, skin irritations, chemical sensitivities and other health problems.
And did we mention that our organic cotton clothing looks super-cute??
Infographic below from Cottonon.org