Cotton plays an important role in the world of fiber. However, a large portion of it is grown with toxic chemicals.
“Fabric of our lives” – That is the name cotton is often called. Many of items that we use everyday are made from cotton. The clothes we wear, the sheets we sleep on, the diapers we put on our baby. But growing cotton in a conventional way requires a large amount of pesticides, which has a huge impact on the environment and potentially cause health risks for those working around it. It may cost less to manufacture and buy conventional cotton, but it’s better for the land, the farm workers and your well-being to choose organic whenever possible.
What Is Organic Cotton?
Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Methods such as beneficial insect releases, strip cutting of alfalfa and new weeding machinery help reduce the environmental impact of cotton crops. Third-party organizations certify that organic cotton farms use only these approved methods and do not spray toxic chemicals on their crops. In 2004, 6,814 bales of organic cotton were harvested in the United States, which is about 3.2 million pounds. That is compared to this year’s estimate of total U.S. cotton production of 19.2 million bales — over 9 trillion pounds. Globally, it is estimated that 120.5 million bales of cotton will be harvested.
Cotton and the Environment
Estimate about 25 percent of the world’s insecticide use and about 10 percent of the world’s pesticide go to cotton crops. According to a research in 2003, 55 million pounds of pesticides are being sprayed on 12.8 million acres of cotton. Many of these chemical are considered to be the most toxic chemicals in the world. The effects of pesticide exposure including birth defects, reproductive disorders and weaker immune systems.
Cotton is still hand-picked in many countries and therefore working in these areas may be exposed to the toxic chemicals. The toxic chemicals also affect the community through water as they seeped into the water supply. Because there so many products that are made from cotton, we are all have the exposure to the toxic chemicals at some points.
Water use is another issue with conventional cotton production. Crops use intensive irrigation and some estimates say cotton crops are the largest water user among agricultural crops.
Besides helping the environment, there are plenty benefits from using organic cotton products. The working environments become better for those farmers save their money by not having to buy large amount of pesticides. Consumers benefit too because the organic cotton products are softer and easier on your skin. Recent awareness of these benefits has increased demand of organic cotton and thus, lowered its cost.