Organic Cotton – The Sustainable Choice
Making Organic Cotton Mainstream
Bringing organic cotton clothing for children to the mainstream has been a core principle at Babipur since we founded in 2007. We love supporting and showcasing fantastic ethical clothing brands that use certified organic cotton. These include Piccalilly, Frugi and Maxomorra to name a few, but there is more to these fabulous clothes than meets the eye. By choosing certified organic cotton we can have huge impact on the health of our planet, as well as the people in the production and manufacturing supply chain. Here, we’re going to explore why organic clothing really is so much better.
We’ve had a close look at the devastating impact of fast fashion on the people behind our desire for ever cheaper clothing in the Rana Plaza disaster. Sadly the appalling working conditions haven’t stopped there, merely moved to a different location. Ethiopia is set to expand its garment industry rapidly and become the world’s biggest textile exporter. Garment industry workers here receive some of the lowest wages globally, and are working in dreadful conditions. Fast fashion is becoming disposable fashion, worn once and discarded. A shocking 350,000 tonnes of used but wearable clothing is being sent to landfill each year in the UK. The human impact of fast fashion is just part of the story. The environmental statistics of conventionally grown cotton are staggering.
What is the difference between organic and non-organic cotton?
A new report by the Soil Association has shown that if you choose a certified organic cotton T-shirt over a conventionally grown cotton T-shirt you would save 2,457 litres of water. That’s enough clean water for for one person to drink in three and a half years!
Conventional cotton uses a whopping 91% more water than organically grown cotton. Moreover, the crucial point to know is that cotton is grown in areas where clean drinking water is at a premium. These are places vulnerable to drought conditions, and exasperated by climate change. Water scarcity has been identified by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 10 global risks to society over the next 10 years.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals can harm the health of the farmers growing the cotton, but also further up the manufacturing chain. Growing conventional cotton uses 7% of the world’s pesticides and 16% of the world’s insecticide. These harm fragile ecosystems, pollute waterways and put workers health at risk.
Cotton and the Aral Sea
One of the most striking impacts of conventional cotton growing on the environment was the disappearance of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Once the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world, it has shrunk to a tenth of its size. A once thriving fishing industry has vanished with the water. The salty, chemical laden dust that’s left causes respiratory problems for people still living there. As water courses were diverted to irrigate cotton crops the freshwater lake dried. As a result it became increasingly salty, and toxic to most aquatic life. It could no longer support the people living around its shores, and villages were deserted.
How is Organic cotton a sustainable choice?
Organic cotton is grown in a holistic way. We can protect the long term health of the growers and the planet by removing the artificial chemicals from the growing system and promoting a naturally sustainable approach.
Soil health is paramount, with natural composts and mulch improving soil conditions. Less irrigation is needed as the soil can hold more water like a sponge. Organic cotton farmers rely on the rain to water their cotton, putting far less pressure on local drinking water. There is far less run-off of silt and sediment into water courses, and no chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Healthy soils are an important store of carbon to help reduce the impact of climate change. In addition organic cotton produces 46% less greenhouse gas emissions.
By choosing organic cotton certified by the Soil Association or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) you’re making a difference to the planet and the people working within the garment industry. By making ethical choices such as choosing organic cotton when we need to buy something new, we can have a significant impact. Here at Babipur we’re committed to only supplying clothing brands that use certified organic cotton. Having beautiful, soft and fun clothing shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet or the people who made it.