When you say the word cotton, many products immediately come to mind. What is Cotton used for? Cotton has been used to produce different types of products. The most popular use of cotton is as a textile. Textile is then transformed into more products like clothing, home decor, table and chair cover, and more.
Over the year, with the popularity and innovations of technology and the development of chemicals, more and more companies have switched from using organic cotton to non-organic cotton. As a consumer, should you be bothered by this? And if so, how do you know if you are using and patronizing products made from organic cotton?
What is Cotton?
Cotton is a plant that grows predominantly in warm to hot climates like India, Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Peru, some US states, China, and more tropical and subtropical countries. The fiber harvested from the plant is what is woven and made into textile and other products.
Although the cotton plants only make up 2.5% of the world’s crops, they are responsible for the usage of an average of 15% of chemicals used in agriculture. This means that growing cotton has a severe negative impact on the environment.
Some of the chemicals sprayed and used for the optimal growth of the cotton are absorbed by the plant. The rest are incorporated in the soil and surrounding water sources. The pesticides sprayed can also alter the ecosystem of insects present in the environment.
Although some of these insects are pests to the cotton plant and damage it, the insects still play a role in the ecosystem. Elimination of these insects can have a severe impact on the balance of the ecosystem and the symbiotic relationship of the other animals and plants in that ecosystem.
With that said, environmentalists have encouraged companies to switch from using non-organic cotton to organic cotton to promote sustainability. This is to lessen the environmental damage that happens due to the prevalent use of chemicals to keep the cotton plant’s optimal growth.
What is the difference between organic cotton and non-organic cotton?
Organic cotton is cotton harvested from plants that are not genetically modified. How these cotton plants are grown are also strictly monitored. The chemicals used to help in their growth are limited if not used altogether.
In the United States, the National Organic Program under the United States Department of Agriculture has listed the requirements regarding the allowed practices with regards to pest control, use of fertilizer, growing methods as well as the handling of the products for it to be considered organic.
On the other hand, non-organic cotton is harvested from plants whose practices on growing, use of chemicals, and handling is unchecked. Therefore, the methods they use in producing non-organic cotton could be harmful to the environment and pose a great risk for the future of Earth.
Should using non-organic cotton bother you?
The short answer would be yes. Patronizing companies and products that use non-organic cotton encourage them to continue their practices. These practices, the uncontrolled use of pesticides and other chemicals, have proven to be detrimental to the environment.
They pollute the lands and waterways. Uncontrolled use of pesticides also harms the ecology in the cotton plantations. This harms the ecology and environment as a whole. Thus, you should be bothered and should discontinue patronising companies and products that use non-organic cotton.
How to Know If The Product is Made From Organic Cotton
Products made from organic cotton like cotton shirts are certified by third party organizations. The Eko Sustainable Textile certification is considered as one who holds the highest standard for environmental and ethical.
Before they certify a cotton product to be organic, they trace the source of the cotton and make sure that the plantation where it came from practices the standard for growing organic cotton.
Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS certification also ensures that during the production of the products, the dyes and chemicals used were non-toxic, safe, and natural. Thus, a product with GOTS certification means that the products have passed a high standard of practice that promotes sustainability and are environmentally-friendly, too.
Cotton is an essential raw material for the production of many products. Thus it is understandable that farmers would grow these crops. However, if people continue to use and buy products made from non-organic cotton, farmers will continue to grow them and that can be harmful to the environment.
Buying products from organic cotton on the other hand will create more demand for organic cotton and encourage farmers to grow and practice standards that develop organic cotton. Always check for certifications to know what you bought is made from organic and sustainable cotton. This move will be helpful for creating a sustainable environment and it is a win for all of us.