ORGANIC COTTON …THE WAY TO GO!!

Updated: Mar 23

WHY ORGANIC COTTON?


Some vouch for organic while others have doubts about it. There are quite a few conjectures linked to organic cotton which is a choice we often face while shopping these days.   

Let’s dig a little deeper to find out why it is the right choice. 

Research has shown annual fertilizer consumption of cotton in India( which is one of the major cotton producers globally) alone was 116.8 kg/ha and this was roughly 6% of the total fertilizers consumed that year. Fertilizers and insecticides used for farming affect us in different ways. It can be through drinking water or through the locally fetch meat or through air. It affects the farmers even more. This cash crop has left so many farmers in debt {pun intended}. They suffer from respiratory diseases, nausea and sometimes even death as they often end up inhaling the dangerous chemical sprays they use to kill pests.

Organic is the most satisfying solution to this menacing problem. Organic farmer takes a conscious decision at every single stage to make as little impact on the environment as possible. There are several reasons why organic farming can go without too many fertilizers and pesticides.


HOW CAN ORGANIC FARMS GO WITHOUT SYNTHETIC FERTILIZERS?

It all starts with healthy soil. Organic farms maintain more bio-diverse soils full of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, algae all working together. It is like a recipe making not just more nutrient rich but also more resilient soil with better water retention capacity. It is noted that organic cotton is more drought resistant. So during drought years organic farms give more returns in terms of yields as compared to conventional cotton farms.

Crop rotation is also an important practice in organic cotton farming where cotton is grown with other crops like peanuts, wheat, soybean etc. in cycles. Growing legumes like peanuts and soybean for example as a rotational crop increases the nitrogen content of soil significantly. Crop rotation fine tunes soil fertility. Fast fashion and growing world population has put so much pressure on cotton industry that conventional farmers choose to plant cotton over and over. This calls for even more use of fertilizers. Different crops also have different enemies aka pests. If same crop is grown over and over then it is a surefire food source for pests and they opportunely make the farm their home. Crop rotation interrupts pest life-cycle keeping their population in check.

An organic farmer uses 1/3 amount of fertilizers and pesticides as a last resort as compared to what a conventional farmer would use. These fertilizers can only be from a limited list provided by the organic certifier considering their toxicity and impact on human health.


SHOP SMART

Sometimes the cotton fibers can be organically grown in all fairness but dyed synthetically. Now that defies the whole purpose, right? Synthetic dyes have an adverse effect on the aquatic ecosystems. Organic is a buzz word today. Manufacturers often use words like organic, natural, herbal etc as a marketing strategy. Look for the GOTS label to buy genuine organic cotton fabric.


GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standards is a worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers. If a cotton product is certified ‘organic’ by GOTS then it is obligated to have at least 95% certified organic cotton fibers and if it is certified ‘made with organic’ then it must contain at least 70% certified organic cotton fibers. There is a rigorous list of criteria to be complied by the manufacturer to be GOTS certified. The chemical inputs like dyes must meet strict toxicity and biodegradability requirements. Azo dyes which release carcinogenic compounds are prohibited. Packaging material must not contain PVC either. The paper or cardboard used in the packaging must be recycled. Some of the social criteria that the manufacturer must comply with, are prohibition of child labor and forced labor, safety and hygiene regulation for the labor, protection of wages etc. In essence, consumers are assured that the cotton has been processed in an environmentally as well as socially responsible way.


All you need to know is nicely put in this less than 4-minute video…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMmLCPuerQg


To shop for GOTS certified organic cotton multipurpose bags go to https://www.theecoloopshop.com/product-page/mesh-grocery-bags

These mesh and muslin bags can be used to pick up veggies from supermarkets, as travel pouches for toiletries, sandwich bags or you can be innovative and find where you can replace single use plastic bags with these.


We will talk about health hazards of plastic use next week.


References

https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0081039

http://www.fao.org/tempref/agl/agll/docs/fertuseindia.pdf

http://www.cottonedon.org/Portals/1/Briefing.pdf

https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-farming-practices/soil-health/

https://www.organiccotton.org/oc/Cotton-general/Impact-of-cotton/Risk-of-cotton-farming.php

http://www.fabricoftheworld.com/fabric-dyeing-death-water-bodies-hazardous-effects-of-textile-dyes/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMmLCPuerQg

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