The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas…Third Day

On the third day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…three pairs of socks…two recycled pallets…and a new electric car!

If you missed my initial post about the reason I’m writing these Twelve Days of a Green Christmas, the First Day of a Green Christmas or the Second Day just click on the links to catch up!

Socks from Pact Organic Wear

These are not just socks they are Pact organic cotton socks. A few years ago my Green Friend gave me one pair of Pact organic cotton socks and I absolutely loved them! They were the softest socks I owned and allowed my skin to breathe unlike synthetic ones. Since receiving those socks I have bought organic cotton dresses, t-shirts, camisoles and undies. They have been great investments and last a long time! I am now in the process of replacing all my worn out socks with organic socks.

organic-cotton-flower
Organic cotton flower
Credit: SwedishLinens.com

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.”

Photo credit: AboutOrganicCotton.org

When you choose organic cotton instead of conventional, for each piece of clothing you can potentially save water, energy and carbon emissions. It may not seem like much but start adding up the potential impact you could have made by converting the t-shirts and jeans in your entire wardrobe!

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 approximately 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.

On this third day of a green Christmas, my green friend gave me 3 pairs of socks which I very much appreciate and will enjoy wearing! Do you have any experiences with organic cotton that you would like to share in the comments below? Thank you for reading my post and please join me tomorrow for the Fourth Day of a Green Christmas!

 

 

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