Organic Cotton – Why Bother?
For years we’ve been consuming pesticides from our fruits, vegetables and grains, and we are finally beginning to understand the health and environmental effects that these chemicals can cause. As a result, many more people are trying to eat organic foods.
So we are avoiding putting pesticides inside our bodies – shouldn't we also avoid pesticides outside our bodies? This documentary on toxic textiles should help answer the question:
Another noteworthy study was done by Environmental Defense
- they tested 20 Canadians from all walks of life. It revealed that every person tested had some number of toxic chemicals in their body. In some cases, children had a higher number of chemicals than their parents. Sixty-eight chemicals were tested for, of which 46 were detected. More details
Here are three reasons why organic cotton is a better choice:
Why is Organic Cotton Better?
• Better for the Environment
• Better Quality
Organic Cotton is Healthier for You
Although, there are no USDA (US Dept of Agriculture) approved studies demonstrating that organic cotton has any health benefits over conventional cotton, organic cotton is being widely embraced by holistic practitioners (such as naturopaths), especially for those suffering or recovering from illness.
More demonstrable is organic cotton's ability to be worn by people with chemical sensitivities, who are unable to wear conventional cotton because they have allergic reactions to the dyes and chemical traces it contains. This is especially important for babies and children because they have more sensitive skin and are more sensitive to chemicals (www.lung.ca).
Finally, another important quality of 100% cotton, is that cotton absorbs moisture and stays dry. In other words, it breathes (as opposed to nylon or other synthetic fibers which can cause perspiration). This quality makes cotton products more comfortable than synthetics
Organic Cotton is Better for the Environment
Environmentally, conventional cotton farming takes a huge toll on our planet.
Here are some startling facts:
• Conventional cotton is responsible for 25% of the insecticides used worldwide
• Some of the most toxic pesticides are used on cotton, and these enter our food chain through foods containing cottonseed oil
• To make one t-shirt, 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and other chemicals are used
Choosing organic cotton helps to support organic farmers and gives motivation to conventional farmers who are trying to convert to organic practices. Spreading the word to friends and family also helps to raise global awareness about the benefits of choosing organic cotton. Hopefully, over time, this can reduce the amount of chemicals consumed by conventional cotton farming and help contribute to a healthier planet.
Organic Cotton is of Better Quality
Why is organic cotton of higher quality?
The answer lies in how organic cotton is produced. Conventional cotton growers use harvesting machines to harvest the cotton. With the use of these machines, the seeds and oil in the seeds is mixed with the cotton. Harsh chemical cleansers are then used to clean the cotton and remove the oil and seeds. In addition, conventional cotton uses dyes that sometimes contain heavy metals.
Our organic cotton growers hand pick the cotton so it is much cleaner. As a result, mild natural cleansing products are used to wash the cotton. In addition, when dying the product, only low impact environmental dyes or natural colorants such as clay are used.
The other benefit of hand picking and no chemical use is that the cotton fiber is much stronger; the fiber is not weakened by the chemical cleansers or dyes.
Where to Start
Because there is so much information available and many different alternatives for making your life healthier and more environmentally friendly, it might feel overwhelming when you start to research this area.
Where should you start?
Our philosophy at Organic Lifestyle is that you start with the things that would give you the most benefit and where your budget allows.
For many people their first purchase of organic cotton would be organic cotton bedding & mattresses – due to the fact that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping.
Others start with clothing such as undergarments, t-shirts, sleepwear since its in direct contact with the largest organ of your body, skin.
Since children and babies are more sensitive to chemicals, emphasis is placed on clothing for babies and children and crib mattresses.
Last but not least, we'd recommend the book, "Ecoholic" by Adria Vasil for a Canadian perspective. More details