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Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fibre that grows in a boll or protective capsule around the seeds of cotton plants. The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including countries such as Turkey, India, China and America. The fibre is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, which is the most widely used natural-fibre cloth in clothing today.
Growing Cotton organically reduces the impact on the environment immensely as it doesn't use nearly as much water as conventional cotton does. It is also grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, therefore safer for the people harvesting the cotton, the local environment, as well as us wearing it.
Conventional Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land and uses a whooping 16% of the world's insecticides! This is more than any other single major crop!
The downside of conventional cotton is that not only does it account for the highest use of chemicals per unit than any other crop, the chemicals used (pesticides, insecticides and herbicides) pollute the air and the surrounding surface water. The chemicals can also affect all that come in contact with the cotton and stay as a residue which can irritate the wearer's skin.
Growing, harvesting, manufacturing, buying and wearing organic cotton has many major advantages!
Not only is organic cotton a cleaner, healthier product, but it is a safer and healthier product to be growing and harvesting for the farmers, their workers and their environment.
Growing organically encourages and promotes biodiversity and eco-systems can flourish naturally.
Wearing organic cotton is softer, more breathable and less likely to irritate the skin as there are no harmful chemical residues.
To be certified organic the cotton farms have to go through vigorous testing and reach strict international recognised standards.
Two major certifications are are GOTS Certification and Textile Exchange (formally known as Organic Exchange).
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
This is a strict international certification for the entire textile supply chain; from harvesting the fibre, to manufacturing the product and distribution of the final item.
GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria right throughout the supply chain and production process.
It has very strict criteria and ensures clothing that states it is organic, is in fact certified organic. The certification also ensures that the standard in which the items are manufactured are at a high standard in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Criteria of GOTS
The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from certified organic natural fibres.
There are strict Fibre Production standards, Environmental Criteria, Technical Quality and Human Toxicity Criteria and Social Criteria to be met to become GOTS certified.
Therefore if you purchase a GOTS certified product, you know from the farm where the fibre is grown or reared, to the processing of the fibre, to the manufacturing of the entire product (dyeing, labelling and printing including) and the packaging and distribution of the product, your item has been done so at a high, environmental, social and ethical level.
Cotton grown organically, has a much less negative impact on our environment. It is grown without harmful synthetic chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers, which means not only is it safer for us to wear, but so much kinder to our environment. Growing cotton organically is nurturing and preserving our environment, creating a cleaner and healthier product for all involved.
Textile Exchange is a not for profit organisation that focusses on setting standards for organic cotton production. They educate growers and the public on the benefits of organic fibres and are creating a larger demand for the growing and manufacturing of organic textiles. Textile Exchange engages farmers and consumers in how the benefits of producing organically relate to economic, environmental and social issues. They look at how to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste, use less toxic chemicals, save water and produce other sustainable fibres that adhere to globally recognised standards