The benefits of organic cotton aren't well known by many. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to buying organic or conventional cotton. As we already know, cotton is one of the most utilised and well-loved fabrics worldwide, so let’s take a closer look at the differences between organic and conventional cotton below.
1. Organic cotton uses less water
Conventional cotton uses a lot more water in the manufacturing process than organic cotton. Most organic cotton is grown in areas with heavy rainfall, these farmers relying on rain water to water their cotton (instead of extracting water from the ground which can drain water resources in local communities) [source: soilassociation.org]. Textile Exchange initiated a peer-reviewed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) on organically grown cotton vs conventionally grown cotton. They concluded that “organic production of cotton for an average-sized t-shirt resulted in a savings of 1,982 gallons of water compared to the results of chemically grown cotton” [source: textileexchange.org]. The other important issue besides amount of water usage, is water pollution.
2. Organic cotton promotes a healthier environment without toxic chemicals
Organic cotton farmers avoid the use of toxic pesticides and artificial fertilisers, which helps keep waterways safe and clean. It’s estimated that if all farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98% [source: soilassociation.org].
3. Organic cotton promotes healthier soil
Organic cotton farmers use natural practices and products to keep their soils thriving - such as composting. Just like when a human body is healthy and functions as it should (e.g. a strong immune system fights off colds), healthy soil acts in a similar way by absorbing excess water during floods and preserving it for longer during droughts. Miraculous! [source: soilassociation.org].
4. Organic cotton is better for peoples' health and wellbeing
Organic cotton farmers are not subject to the chemicals that conventional cotton farmers are. They have less exposure to toxic pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers, some which have been associated with health conditions such as skin irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, depression, anxiety and even cancer [source: pan-uk.org]. Organic cotton helps promote health and safety for farmers and their families, as well as the end-users of cotton products, especially those will allergies or sensitivities.
5. Organic cotton uses less energy and CO2 emissions
Organic cotton uses 62% less energy than conventional cotton and the global warming prospective of organic cotton was 46% lower than that of conventional cotton. [farmhub.textileexchange.org].
Organic cotton really is a no-brainer. Although the benefits may not be physically felt on your skin, they’re certainly felt in the wider environment. Choosing organic cotton products is a smart choice for the conscious consumer. It protects the health and integrity of the environment, reduces water wastage and pollution, and promotes health and wellbeing for farmers and consumers.