When we think of “organic”, we mostly think about food products, such as fruit, vegetables and meat. But did you know that any product that is made or cultivated in agriculture can be organic too? For example, clothing, homeware, personal care and lifestyle products, and this includes fibres such as cotton, which are grown on plants.
Cotton is the world’s most important non-food crop, of which we consume over 28 million tonnes per year. There are 300 million people involved in cotton production worldwide and 17 million cotton farmers in India alone.
We know it is important to eat food that is not covered in pesticides and it is also important to ensure the clothes we put on our skin and the sheets we sleep on are chemical-free! Just like organic food, organic cotton crops are grown without any genetic-modification, chemical pesticides or insecticides. They are also produced in an organic factory using organic dyes. This is safer for you, for the environment and for all the farmers and their communities. A win-win situation.
The Effects of Non-Organic Cotton Production
Toxic Pesticides, Fertilisers and Dyes
Cotton is known as the "dirty crop". Why? It only takes up 2.5% of world agricultural land, but it uses 16%- 25% of global pesticides- that is 2 billion US Dollars worth of pesticides per year! But what is so bad about these chemical products? They contain some of the most dangerous and poisonous chemicals as classified by the World Health Organisation, such as deltamethrin, endosulfan, aldicarb, parathion, methamidophos and alphacypermethrin. Organic farming instead relies on preventing these pests from becoming a problem to begin with, using techniques that create a more diverse and balanced ecosystem, such as crop rotation, mixed cultivation and the promotion of natural pesticide enemies.
The Health of Workers
When buying organic food or clothing, we tend to forget about the people who have grown the crops and processed them. 1 million agricultural workers are hospitalised every year from acute pesticide poisoning. They report dizziness, shortness of breath, depression, and vomiting amongst other severe symptoms. Where farmers and workers do not have the money or access to emergency medical treatment, these poisonings often result in death. Even those not directly involved in the spraying can be affected as they rely on the surrounding land for their food and water supplies. Children are the most vulnerable and are often the first victims of pesticide poisoning.
Pesticides destroy soil fertility, which means that after a couple of years and exacerbated by global warming and climate change, crop yields decline drastically. Farmers are left with debt from buying all of these pesticides from middle men, and no crop to sell. The pesticides also seep into local ecosystems poisoning wildlife such as honey bees and bats, setting off a chain of detrimental damage to our planet.
Organic Products and Your Health
Pesticides and insecticides are something most of us have heard of at least once in our lives and we are aware that we should try and stay away from them...but why? Well, studies have shown that these harmful chemicals have been identified as cancer causing agents. Pesticide exposure can cause changes in hormones as well as damage to DNA.
The Benefits Of Organic
Any product sold as “Organic” in the European Union has to comply with a strict set of standards and will be labeled with one or all of the following:
- EU Green Leaf Organic Symbol
- Soil Association Organic Symbol
- Global Organic Textile Standards
All farms, factories and businesses along the supply chain must be inspected and audited every year. This means all products will be:
- Free from dangerous pesticides, fertilisers and dyes
- Without artificial colours or preservatives
- Free range
- Without routine use of antibiotics
- Non genetically modified
What You Can Do To Help
Everytime we shop, we have the power to change the world with our pockets. When we support organic, we are supporting farming communities around the world and we are ensuring a more sustainable future for our environment. We are also looking after our own health too!
It’s also worth noting that most organic brands buy their supplies directly from farming cooperatives. These cooperatives cut out middle men in the supply chain, directly connecting smallholder farmers to the international market, ensuring they get more money for their produce.
There are so many wonderful organic brands available now that making the switch to organic produce couldn’t be easier! Just look out for that Organic symbol in your local store or actively search for Organic brands online! We also encourage you to read our blog post on Fairtrade and why you should try to buy products with both certifications! Here are a few of our favorite companies selling organic clothing!
- Grown- clothing inspired by the sea, nature and the Irish coastline, run by three firefighting surfers, Stephen, Neill and Damien.
- Nomads- incredibly comfy and cosy clothing for everyday living founded by Duncan and Vicky in the UK.
- Shift to Nature – a one-stop shop of different sustainable clothing brands covering everything from casual basics to unique designer pieces.
What We Do!
We set up White & Green as an entirely Organic and Fairtrade cotton bedding brand and due to huge popularity, we have extended into other products such as towels, throws, scarves and baby clothing. You can shop our products below.