What Is Organic Cotton
At the last few events that Aina Clothing has been a vendor at I’ve been a little surprised by a few of the questions that were asked of me; “What’s organic cotton?” and “What’s so special about organic cotton?” I guess I have been naive being the owner of Aina thinking that everyone would understand organic/organic cotton and what sets it apart from traditional cotton like any other organic product.
Let’s start with Oxford Dictionaries definition of organic: (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
So now that we have a basic understanding of what organic is we can dive into my area of focus which is organic cotton and hit up the Organic Trade Association for their definition of organic cotton. “Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.”
Great, so it doesn’t use pesticides and stuff, how much could traditional cotton use anyway, it’s a natural plant to begin with. In the United States conventional cotton uses about 12 pounds of synthetic chemicals per planted acre, and most of these chemicals are listed as probable carcinogens by the EPA. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop.
In addition to organic cotton not using synthetic chemicals, organic farming supports bio-diversity through crop rotation, promotion of soil health and has a positive effect on the surrounding ecosystem with insect and bird life having been found to be 50% greater on organic farms than conventional.