We all know that organic cotton is best for babies and kids but do we really know why… I’ve done a bit of research and this is what I’ve come up with…
First of all, what does organic actually mean in regards to cotton farming?
According to The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK: ‘Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control’.
Simply put, there are no chemicals or pesticides used on the cotton plants and all farms are required to have good working practices in place.
What are the main differences between conventional cotton and organic cotton?
Conventional cotton occupies only 3 percent of the world’s farmland, but uses 25 percent of the world’s chemical pesticides and fertilizers. For every one pair of jeans and t-shirt produced in a conventional way, 500g of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used. To actually turn the cotton into clothing, numerous toxic chemicals are added at each stage – harsh petroleum scours, softeners, brighteners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia and formaldehyde – to name just a few.
Organic Cotton is cotton that is grown without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides on it. It is grown on land that has been treated and given sufficient time (at least three years) for the removal of all the toxic residues of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used earlier on it. The cotton is from original plants, meaning plants that are not genetically modified and that have not been treated with any chemicals (washes, bleaches, colors, or scents) during its processing and packaging.
Cotton and Your Child
How does this affect your child? Did you know that a baby’s skin is more porous and thinner than an adult’s skin? That means that their skin absorbs things very easily and can be damaged by the slightest hint of harsh chemicals or synthetic colours present in clothes.
Organic cotton also allows for better aeration and will keep your baby cool as the very nature of cotton permits it to absorb and remove moisture easily. This in turn means that it is non-allergenic and will help with eczema and asthma as it does not release any small, toxic particles. It is also super soft and does not rub harshly against their delicate skin.
Why is Organic Cotton more expensive?
Organic cotton is more expensive to grow than conventional, chemically drenched and unsustainable cotton. You might think that organic should be less expensive to grow because it doesn’t use expensive GMO seeds, expensive petroleum-based fertilizers, or expensive toxic herbicides and pesticides like conventionally grown crops and cottons, but organically grown crops still must contend with weeds and fight devouring insects and this all costs money, actually more money than conventional chemical methods which is why conventional methods use all those toxic and deadly chemicals. Harvesting costs are also higher for the same reasons.
The other side to the organic definition is the safe and good working practices of the cotton farmers which in turn means higher wages and lower working hours.
Buying cheap cotton could be a false economy though… Conventionally produced cotton lasts 10-20 washes before it starts to break down due to all the chemical processes it goes through. An organic cotton material lasts for 100 washes or more.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
If you want to be sure you are getting organic cotton, look for the GOTS certified label on your baby’s clothes. GOTS is the world’s leading textile processing standard for organic fibers and requires that the clothing is 95 per cent organic and has no toxic dyes or finishes.