Organic cotton vs. conventionally grown cotton

100% cotton, wonderful, clean, pure cotton. Or not? We think we're doing ourselves - and the environment - a favour by buying cotton, but is that really the case? Maybe it's time to take a hard look at the real costs of conventional cotton.

Cotton and water! The two usually go hand in hand, but organic cotton is usually rain-fed, not irrigated, so it uses a lot less water. Organic cotton, as you probably know, is grown without the use of pesticides and insecticides. How is this done? Farmers use composted manures and cover-crops to replace synthetic fertilizers. Innovative weeding strategies are used instead of herbicides. Beneficial insects and trap-crops are used to control pests. Nature's frost and water inducement prepare plants for harvest, instead of using toxic defoliants.


As a benefit, you can keep wearing that comforting feel of cotton without the stress of what might be happening to the environment. You have options and a one good one is organic anything, cotton included. Organic cotton is generally rain-fed, using less water than regular cotton and no pesticides. The result is that what lies next to your skin is as pure and soft as an angel's wings.

Organic clothes are not treated with harmful chemicals. Organic clothes are healthy for the wearer, healthy for the producer and healthy for the planet.Organic cotton is grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. When you buy organic cotton products you are supporting sustainable farming methods. These methods do not pollute ground or surface water, or the air; nor do they poison farmers, farm workers or their families. What they do is improve soil fertility for future generations.

Organic cotton is a far superior alternative to chemical laden conventional cotton. More and more farmers around the world are growing cotton without costly, harmful chemicals. Their yield is high and the quality of the cotton they grow is equal to or better than conventionally grown cotton. Their methods support biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, improve the quality of soil and often use less water.

Growing organically takes more time, requires more knowledge and skill, and, at least for now, costs a bit more. But it is worth it since it doesn't contain any hidden costs to our environment. So what's the problem with standard cotton?

The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in the United States as ""possible,"" ""likely,"" ""probable,"" or ""known"" human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (Source: EPA)

Cotton ranks second for most pesticide use of all crops.

In the US, it takes about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and herbicides to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 84 million pounds of pesticides and 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to 14.4 million acres of cotton in the US in 2000.

In 1997, large apparel companies purchased 2.15 million pounds of organic cotton, which eliminated an estimated 43,000 pounds of pesticides and 485,190 pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

(Organic Fiber Council)"