Why buy organic cotton?
Because regular intensive cotton farming is very very BAD. It has a vast range of negative side effects on the environment and human health. The heavy use of pesticides reduces biodiversity, disrupts ecosystems, and contaminates water supplies. Cotton is only grown on 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, but it consumes 10% of all chemical pesticides and 22% of all chemical insecticides used worldwide. In fact eight times more pesticides are used on one hectare of conventional cotton, than on other crops.
These pesticides not only kill pests, but also their natural enemies, thus reducing biodiversity.
Pests that are exposed to synthetic pesticides build up a resistance to them. So the farmers have to buy and use more and more pesticides to grow the same amount of cotton each year.
Intensive cultivation of cotton requires large amounts of water for irrigation. This causes soil salinisation and degradation of soil fertility.
When the pesticides are washed out of soils they pollute rivers and groundwater.
Cotton production also contributes to climate change. Industrial fertilizers are produced using considerable quantities of finite energy sources, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide.
What makes it even worse is the excessive use of nitrates to fertilize agricultural land. This is transformed into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more destructive than CO2 in terms of global warming.
Soils are also important carbon sinks. Soil degradation reduces the amount of CO2 that is absorbed, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect.
Many small cotton farmers often have health problems, they fall ill or die due to a lack of adequate equipment and knowledge about how to handle pesticides properly. Medical costs and an inability to work are a severe economic burden on affected families. As explained above, intensive cotton farming leads to soil degradation. As a consequence, farmers face declining yields and have to increase production even more.
To pay for the increasing costs of farm input, small farmers are obliged to borrow from banks or cotton buyers, driving them more and more into debt.
Organic cotton farming is environmentally friendly. They use natural pesticides in stead of chemical ones, for instance a garlic based mixtures or pheromone-traps. This keeps pests off the crops, but does not destroy their natural predators.
In stead of monoculture, secondary crops are grown between and around small plots of cotton, such as sunflowers and millet. This not only creates a natural barrier and confuses the pests, it also provides the farmers with another cash crop or food. Which can be a useful backup in case of a poor cotton harvest.
Thanks to the use of natural fertilizers and pesticides, groundwater and rivers stay clean and healthy. To increase soil fertility compost, mulch and organic manures are used.
This way of farming actually promotes biodiversity. In organic cotton fields a significantly higher number of insect species are found(especially those that are beneficial).
There are more benefits for the farmers. Because organic farmers use local products (compost, manure, natural pesticides), their costs are considerably lower. Crop rotation provides them with a range of different food crops, thus improving their food security and reducing their dependency on the cotton market.
Organic cotton also provides extra income thanks to the organic premium.
For more information about organic cotton click here.
Hemp flourishes without the use of pesticides (having few natural enemies) and grows so fast that it literally leaves other plants in the shade. This means herbicides are not required either, making hemp ideal for organic farming.
Hemp makes an excellent source of textile. People have been using hemp to make textile for some 6000 years all over the world. The hemp plant grows to heights of 15-20 foot and the fibre, when stripped from the plant, is as long as the plant itself, giving hemp added strength when woven into textile.
Where cotton needs a lot of water to grow, hemp doesn't. Using 55% hemp in a t-shirt instead of 100% cotton saves over 100 gallons of water.
Hemp fibres are porous so they allow your skin to breathe, whilst also being softer, stronger and more durable than cotton.
Bamboo is arguably one of the world’s best sustainable resources. With a growth rate of up to a meter or more per day, bamboo holds the world record as the fastest growing plant. And, bamboo is actually not a wood but a grass, continuously sending up new shoots after harvesting without a need for replanting. Bamboo can be utilized in just 4-5 years unlike traditional hardwoods that not only take 25-70 years to mature, but also require replanting.
Bamboo growing is good for the environment. It takes in nearly 5 times the amount of greenhouse gasses, and produces 35% more oxygen, than an equivalent stand of trees. Making it an efficient replenisher of fresh air. By encouraging the growth and utilization of bamboo, we can begin to combat global warming. Bamboo removes CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis by using carbon as an energy source and converting it into plant tissue which releases oxygen as a by-product. Bamboo offers an opportunity to turn away from the destruction of native forests towards managed commercial plantations that can be selectively harvested annually without the destruction of the grove or stand. While tree plantations must be chopped down for harvest, bamboo renews itself by sending up new shoots constantly.
Bamboo does not require chemical pesticides or fertilizers. It also stabilizes the earth with its erosion preventing roots, and improves the health of the soil by sequestering excess nitrogen. Further, bamboo retains water in the watershed, reduces runoff, sustains riverbanks, and helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption.
In order for any product to be certified organic, it must undergo the rigour of the appropriate regulated organic standards. In order to address those processing and manufacturing stages, a handful of organisations, mostly organic certification agencies, have developed their own private voluntary organic or sustainable standards for textile, and are certifying finished products according to those standards.
Such organic certification agencies and their textile processing scheme include the Soil Association and Control Union International (formerly SKAL International); the new GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) will encompass those. What those standards also aim to achieve is to maintain the integrity of the organic nature of the fibre as much as possible. This means that the production methods have to have as little impact on the environment as possible, the health of consumers is protected, while insuring textiles of high quality that are economically viable.
This is how they do that: using as much organic material as possible, no chemical bleaching, dyes are environmentally friendly without heavy metals, using thermo mechanical anti-shrinking methods in stead of chemical methods, zippers and snaps are nickel-free, there are no residues of chemicals remaining on the fabric.
Fair trade standards are not simply a set of minimum standards for socially responsible production and trade. The Fair trade standards go further in seeking to support the development of disadvantaged and marginalized small-scale farmers and plantation workers. Fair trade standards relate to three areas of sustainable development: social development, economic development and environmental development.
In summary the key objectives of the standards are to:
- ensure a guaranteed Fair trade minimum price which is agreed with producers
- provide an additional Fair trade premium which can be invested in projects that enhance social, economic and environmental development
- enable pre-financing for producers who require it
- emphasize the idea of partnership between trade partners
- facilitate mutually beneficial long-term trading relationships
- set clear minimum and progressive criteria to ensure that the conditions for the production and trade of a product are socially and economically fair and environmentally responsible.
For more information about the Fair trade Mark click here.
Our products come from the following suppliers. For more information about the companies click on the logos.
Products: towels and bathrobes.
Bo Weevils mission is to contribute to a healthier and better world by promoting and marketing ecologically and socially sustainable cotton and textile, and to make it economically attractive for all parties in the chain.
Bo Weevil aims to increase the market share of organic agriculture with its organic cotton projects. The focus of organic agriculture is on creating a balance between soil, animals, and plants. No chemicals and artificial fertiliser is used and pests are controlled by natural means.
Products: Men's and women's fashion.
Ethos is a thriving Paris fashion house producing stylish, high-quality garments of excellent quality made from organic materials. Every person involved in the production, design and sale of Ethos garments is paid a living wage while sustainability and ethical practices form the basis of our business activities in developing countries.
Products: under and outerwear for adults and children.
Living Crafts has been successful in manufacturing eco-textiles applying environmentally friendly socioeconomic methods.
That is why we pay close attention to fair working conditions at our production sites; we avoid the use of pesticides and chemical additives for growing and processing our raw materials. That’s also the reason for choosing equipment which is operated thermo-mechanically only. Hence, we choose eco-friendly, poison-free colours for our fabrics and make sure that we reduce the environmental impact when transporting our goods.
Products: Bamboo T-shirts and socks.
Mobboa has a dream to actively contribute to more unity, consciousness, honesty and respect for mankind and nature.
How do we make this dream come true in daily life ?
By choosing bamboo as an innovative natural raw material for textile applications, which do not burden or pollute our planet; bamboo truly is a superb alternative for the traditional very polluting cotton.
Products: men's and women's underwear.
C.A. BIO conceives and manufactures, under the brand Peau-Ethique, a line of lingerie, night wears, socks and tights for all the family, from the baby to the adult. We offer an organic cotton line, comfortable, coloured and made in fair-trade, for the good being of all and by respect of Human and the Nature.
Products: hemp T-shirts.
Madness manufactures clothes from hemp and certified organic cotton. Some of their products are also certified by the Fair Wear Foundation.