People are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of purchasing and wearing natural fibres. However what many people still don’t realise is how the quality of these natural fibres still affects the environment and our health.
Cotton is a prime example of this phenomenon. Organic cotton is becoming more prevalent and there is a reason for it. Growing organic cotton has a less harmful effect on people and the environment.
Here are some comparisons:
|Non-organic cotton||Organic cotton|
|· Requires soil to be sprayed with organophosphates which has damaging affects in the central nervous system
· Soil Requires use of artificial fertilisers
· Cotton plants require many harmful pesticides which cause long term toxicity damage (cancer, tumours, mutations, foetal defects) for farmers and others who come into contact with the chemicals, as well as environmental toxicity affecting many fish, amphibians, bees, crustaceans, birds and aquatic insects
· Rainwater runoff from cotton fields causes dead zones in oceans
· Only about 0.1% of these chemicals actually reach the pests they target
· Even GM cotton requires pesticides after a few seasons
· Cotton fields are contributers of millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions yearly
|· No pesticides and chemicals were required to grow cotton before WWII, it simply isn’t needed
· Organic cotton can shrink when washed but this problem can be solved by pre-shrinking the yarn and fabric
· Food can be grown alongside organic cotton fields
· Organic cotton fields use far less water than non-organic
· Refraining from using pesticides and harmful chemicals protects the environment and ecosystems
(Chouinard, let my people go surfing)
As you can see, although it is considered a natural fibre, non-organic cotton requires many un-natural chemicals. Even after picking the contaminated cotton and turning it into yarn, it is often coated with synthetics to prevent shrinking. Does this process of growing, harvesting and producing cotton still classify it as a natural fibre?
Historically, organic cotton dates back to 6000BC. So what happened? Why the need for pesticides and chemicals? During WWII, chemicals were developed to keep malaria mosquitoes and other insects away. Soon farmers’ interest grew and chemists developed pesticides and herbicides for agriculture. Of course, the dangers and affects of the ‘chemical age’ were not yet known, which has lead us now to wide spread damaged soils, environmental problems and health issues (livinghistoryfarm.org).
So now what? How do we stop this continuation of non-organic cotton having detrimental effects on people and the environment? Consumers have the power of choice. When purchasing products, we have the ability to decide on what we deem ethical. By only purchasing organic cotton, consumers raise the standards of agriculture and refuse to be part of them problem that is harming the planet.