Happy New Year to all who have taken the time to read my Twelve Days of a Green Christmas posts! Today, the first day of 2019 is also the Eighth Day of Christmas. So join me in singing these eight verses!
..on the eighth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…eight cotton socks, seven false roselle, six craft beers, five mutual shares, four smart bulbs, three bags of taters, two quarts of milk and a potted cypress tree!
I took a little liberty today with 8 cotton socks…actually it’s 4 pairs of socks but that wouldn’t fit the verse very well. These are not just cotton socks they are organic cotton socks. A few years ago my Green Friend gave me organic cotton socks and I absolutely loved them! They are the softest socks I own and allow my skin to breathe unlike synthetic ones. Since receiving those socks I have bought organic cotton dresses, t-shirts, camisoles, undies and bed linens. They have been great investments and last a long time!
You may not think there is a difference between regular/conventional cotton and organic cotton but I can assure you there is! Anyone who is concerned about our environment or has worn organic cotton clothing, used organic cotton towels or bed linens has felt the difference and rarely will return to conventional cotton!
Why is organic cotton softer than regular cotton? Due to the large demand for conventional cotton it the flowers are typically picked by machines which damages the integrity of the fibers, usually resulting in shorter and weaker fibers. Organic cotton is hand-picked maintaining the integrity of the cotton fibers which results in longer, more durable fibers which lend themselves to a softer touch to the skin.
Why is organic cotton healthier than regular cotton? With the high demand for regular cotton many farmers have chosen to plant GM (genetically modified) seeds to resist bugs. Pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers are used to speed up the production of the cotton flowers but after a few years when the bugs begin resisting the pesticides and insecticides they need to spray stronger formulas. Accumulation in the body of these toxic applications can lead to serious diseases in the farmers and workers, including cancer.
During the manufacturing of regular cotton heavy metals, chlorine and chemical dyes are used. Again there is the exposure to these toxic ingredients for the factory workers and the diseases they contract.
Most of the contaminated water that seeps into the soil contains harmful chemicals which may not be filtered from the water you ultimately drink and use in your home. Your skin absorbs these chemicals when you shower or wash your face or hands. Even regular washings do not remove all the residue of these chemicals and toxins and can cause skin allergies. There have been many reports of eczema arising from use of conventional cotton products. Would you want all these chemicals close to a baby’s skin or your sensitive skin?
Organic cotton farming uses natural seeds, no chemical pesticides and the flowers are hand-picked. Insect control is managed with other insects that target destructive ones and weeding is done by hand, tilling or other cultivation methods. The result is a softer, hypo-allergenic and more durable material. The safety standards for organic cotton are higher than conventionally grown cotton as the products must be certified organic making organic cotton a much healthier choice.
Why has conventional cotton become an environmental concern? The amount of land used to grow conventional cotton hasn’t changed much since the 1930s, but yields have increased 300% through hybridization, intensive land management and use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. The soil is degraded without crop rotation and nutrients are replaced with chemical toxins. The higher demand of these conventional cotton plants means more irrigation.
AboutOrganicCotton.org says “By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. But organic cotton is 80% rain-fed, which reduces pressure on local water sources. The absence of chemicals also means that water is cleaner and safer.”
The above graph from Mighty Good Undies illustrates the amount of CO2 emissions in the life cycle of a conventional cotton product.
And what about Fair Trade in the manufacturing of regular cotton products? As we become more aware of unfair labor practices it’s important to note about 100 million households are engaged in growing and producing conventional cotton and 300 million people work in the conventional cotton sector. The majority of conventional cotton farmers and workers live in developing countries, work extremely long hours, are exposed to toxic substances daily and earn very little in wages. Many of them have unsustainable debts because they are unable to keep up with employer demands.
Other factors such as climate change, decreasing prices of cotton and tough competition from farmers in rich countries don’t make it any easier. When shopping for conventional cotton products the labels show the countries of manufacture to be countries like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, China, Pakistan, West Africa and many more countries. Think about this…if you find an incredibly cheap cotton product realize someone else may have paid dearly for it.
Do you choose organic cotton when shopping for cotton products? Share some of your reasons in the comments below.
Thank you for joining me on this Eighth Day of a Green Christmas! If you’re curious about the history of the Twelve Days of Christmas you can find that here. Join me tomorrow and see what my Green Friend gifts me…I’m sure it will be fun, educational, useful or possibly edible!