Organic Cotton, Know its Advantages
Organic cotton is no longer a novelty, but do we know exactly what its differentials are? in this matter we will start by talking a little about ordinary cotton, its harvesting process and then unraveling the advantages of opting for organic cotton in your purchases, when possible.
Cotton gives rise to a type of textile fiber that represents more than half of the garments.
After being harvested (usually by machines), it passes through rolls that will remove its seeds, leaves and other unwanted materials, separating the material into bales. Then these fibers will be stored in reels and, after this process, placed in the loom to give origin to the cloth.
Environmental impacts of common cotton
Although it uses only a little more than 2% of the total area destined for agriculture, cotton production is responsible for about 24% of all insecticide consumption and 11% of agricultural pesticides.
Besides the health problems caused by these insecticides and pesticides, cotton is responsible for bissinosis, a lung dysfunction caused by chronic aspiration of cotton fibrils.
Compared to synthetic fabrics, cotton consumes a higher amount of energy, mainly due to the fuel used by agricultural machines, tractors and the energy of spinning machines and washing, drying and ironing processes.
Although it is of renewable origin, the degradation of soil and groundwater by conventional agriculture compromises its renewal.
The cotton fibers are recyclable, however, due to their short length, the process is difficult. The residues are basically used to make thick threads and strands.
Per kilo of cotton fiber produced, seven thousand to 29 thousand liters of water are consumed in irrigation!
Therefore, conventional cotton crops can be extremely aggressive to the environment, animals and farmers, because they are the ones that use agrochemicals the most in the world – as it is a product that is not edible, many think that there is no problem in exaggerating the dose of pesticides. But all this makes some 250,000 farmers sick every year in the world.
Differentials of organic cotton
The cultivation of organic cotton is a solution to reduce the environmental impact. A study (based on producers in the first five countries that are at the top of the largest organic cotton growers in the world – India, China, Turkey, Tanzania and USA) shows that, in comparison to conventional cotton growing, there are large reductions in: water consumption, gas emission, acidification, eutrophication and primary energy demand. Conclusion: organic cotton production was 46% less instigating to global warming than conventional cotton.
The cultivation of organic cotton preserves the health of the soil thanks to the use of the crop rotation system (which alternates the same planting space with another species, so that the soil nutrients are not exhausted), discarding the need for synthetic fertilizers – which explains its lower water consumption.
There is no use of pesticides, because the pests are fought with the insertion of beneficial predatory species or with another type of plant that is more attractive to these insects; and weeds are removed manually and agrochemicals are despised.
With all this, more people are needed to work, generating more jobs and better training the workers. The model has a fairer relationship between all the workers who participate in production (it’s called fair trade) compared to the common production that, even today and in many places of the world, makes use of semi-slave labor.
There are already textile industries changing their manufacturing processes and using ecologically correct raw materials (sustainable fibers such as organic cotton) as one of the ways to reduce pollution. Even in the fashion industry some brands have already adhered to the use of this sustainable material in their pieces.
It is important that the industries, to maintain this sustainable path, not only use organic cotton, but also increasingly seek other alternatives that dispense with the use of chemical products during the weaving process.
In the organic fabric production process, only natural dyes are applied for dyeing. But which are they? The coloring is sought from natural pigments of tree barks, leaves and roots, and can give more vivid tones to the garments produced. This practice has had an increasing development so that there are more color options.
However, it is necessary to keep an eye on this, because cotton may be organic, but the coloring may originate from some chemical substance; in order to stay on the ecological path, the industries must use dyes without heavy metals on any clothes, whether jeans, dresses, pants, skirts, shirts or T-shirts.
When buying ordinary cotton clothes, take into consideration how much water and energy have already been used for your cultivation and how much more you will spend to wash your clothes. Also think about whether the clothes are imported; even if they are from a neighboring country, there is a great gas emission just to transport these clothes. There is no point in encouraging global warming if you have an alternative product.