Cotton has been used for centuries in fashion, but the demand is always rising and there have been big changes in this industry. The use of pesticides has grown massively. Cotton is now the most pesticide dependent crop in the entire world, it now accounts for 25% of all pesticide use, globally. For every cotton t-shirt that is made, it requires a quarter pound of harmful chemicals that can have catastrophic consequences for farmers health, and the people in those villages, as well as the environment.
According to USDA, it is estimated that in one year 50 million pesticides were used in cotton fields in America. Using pesticide and fertilizer on cotton fields has being linked to ground and surface water contamination and polluting the drinking water in those areas. In California, cotton is the third most common reason for pesticide related illnesses, as well as fish and wildlife being impacted. There are plenty of reasons showing you why you should use organic cotton.
Organic cotton doesn’t use any toxins or fertilizers, doing this means there is less harsh chemicals, bleaches, dyes and so many more chemicals. They use natural fertilizer like compost or soil amendments, as well using more natural methods of pest control, like ladybirds that eat insects that would be harmful to the cotton. Once upon a time organic cotton was basically unheard of, but these methods mean it is becoming to be more common in stores.
Anything that was once made out of traditional cotton, can also be made out of organic cotton. Whilst some people might think there’s still a limited range, they are still developing them.
However, even with organic cotton, coloured dyes are still an issue. Manufacturers understand this, and the harmful effects they have on the environment, which is why they are developing new ways to colour the cotton as quickly as they can. The organically coloured cotton they are developing, already comes in earth tones, and is grown on the stem in brown, reddish brown, green and yellow. The colour grown cotton reduces the rate of synthetic dyes, whilst keeping costs up to 40% lower and has a softer feel with colour that doesn’t fade.
Another alternative choice that could be used, is recycled cotton, this could be an even more environmentally friendly option. The cotton fabric that is the scraps left over from the entire manufacturing process, can be recycled to make clothes from fabric that would have gone in the bin. This is typically referred to as ‘Eco Fibre’ and there are no harsh chemicals that are used when the fabric gets processed.
The cotton industry will always be one of the biggest industries in the world and will remain one of the biggest suppliers to the fashion industry. It doesn’t always have to be one of the biggest polluters in the world. Things are starting to change at last, especially with a high demand from customers to change the way cotton is grown and to stop harming the environment or putting people’s health at risk. Over time, we will see more organic cotton in our stores.