Certified Organic Cotton

What is Organic Cotton?

Organic cotton is grown without using pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified

High levels of agrochemicals are used in the production of non-organic, conventional cotton.

Conventional cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts for a total of around 25% of the world’s pesticides. The chemicals used in the processing of conventional cotton also pollute the air and surface waters. Residual chemicals may also irritate skin.

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. The organic production system replenishes and maintains soil fertility, reduces the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and builds biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic agriculture uses crop rotation instead of agrochemicals along with artificial fertilizers and biological pest control instead of pesticides. Though organic cotton has less environmental impact than conventional cotton, it costs more to produce. Cotton sold as organic must be grown according to the international guidelines for organic crop production.

Soil fertility practices that meet organic certification standards typically include crop rotation, cover cropping, animal manure additions, and use of naturally occurring rock powders. Weed management is accomplished by a combination of cultivation, flame weeding, and other cultural practices.

The benefits of Organic cotton for you and your children

People with allergies and chemical sensitivity especially benefit from organic cotton clothing, as conventional cotton may retain harmful toxic residues. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, organic cotton will just feel better against your skin.

Children are at greater risk for pesticide-related health problems than adults. Millions of children in the US receive up to 35% of their estimated lifetime dose of some carcinogenic pesticides by age five through food, contaminated drinking water, household use, and pesticide drift.

The majority of well known high street stores and supermarkets are selling conventional cotton with toxic finishes and residues of pesticides (unless the fabric has an Organic certification) with all the negative health implications for us and our children. Young children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides, and we know that exposure has been linked to the development of ADHD

Organic clothing can help reduce exposure to allergens and other irritants and is more comfortable to wear.

Strict testing ensures the absence of contaminants like nickel, lead, formaldehyde, amines, pesticides and heavy metals

Negatives of Conventional cotton production for the cotton workers and the environment

Crops that are grown using organic methods means a lot to the environment, as well as to all the hands that actually work with and among the plants. Cotton that is not grown organically is treated with pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. Harvesting organic cotton is much safer for the workers who pick it, and those living near cotton crops won’t have pesticides in their water sources, enabling them to grow food for their families and animals. Plus, the producers can’t use GMO crops.

Farmworkers working in conventionally grown cotton fields around the world suffer from an abundance of toxic exposures and related health problems. Pesticides used on cotton cause acute poisonings and chronic illness to farm workers worldwide. Acute respiratory symptoms and other health effects in communities surrounding cotton farms are correlated with high use of chemicals.

Toxins used in non Organic fabric treatment

Most clothing is produced with synthetic dyes and is treated with toxic chemicals to provide wrinkle resistance, stain resistance, fade resistance, static cling resistance, etc. In fact, that “new” smell in clothing usually indicates chemicals–and if the smell lingers after a washing, the chemicals haven’t been banished.
Here's some of the bad stuff found in some conventional fabrics:

Benzidine-based “azo dyes” are synthetic colourants, some of which may release carcinogenic amines (ammonia derivatives) Certain azo dyes have been recognized as human bladder carcinogens and are also detrimental to the environment.

In particular, o-dianisidine is a classified as potentially cancer causing in humans

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen ( see Formaldehyde info box)

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a group of chemicals that work to repel water and stains, in particular grease.
According to EWG (Environmental Working Group), PCFs break down into a toxic blood contaminant called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), and they are ubiquitous (over 90% of Americans are shown to have PFOA in their bloodstream). PCFs are found in cosmetics, household cleaners, packaged food containers, microwave popcorn, furniture, paper plates, and nonstick pans, amongst other places.
In clothing, PFCs are usually lurking in wrinkle-, water-, and stain-resistant clothing, including those with Scotchgard and Gore-Tex tags.

Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPEs) are cheap surfactants sometimes used in the textile industry.
They also act as hormone disruptors that end up in our water supply when we launder clothing that contains them.
Phthalates Children are at a significantly higher risk than adults when it comes to phthalate exposure, and phthalates are often found in clothing dyes and in plastisol prints

Can organic clothing contain these chemicals?

Since 2011 all textiles (including mattresses) labelled as 'organic' must have a third party certification, ideally GOTS, which ensures that the entire production process is gentle on the environment and the person wearing the garment