Cotton is a widely used natural fiber, but unfortunately, it is not ecologically friendly. Whether cotton is organic or not, it does require a lot of water to produce. For example, it can take more than 20,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton–which makes the equivalent of one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. However, organic cotton is far superior to non-organic cotton when it comes to human health, the health of animals, and also the environment.
Here are the problems with non-organic cotton:
- Non-organic cotton uses a lot of insecticides and pesticides: 2.4% of the world’s crop land is planted with cotton, and yet cotton accounts for 24% of the insecticides and 11% of the pesticides used globally. Pesticides and insecticides not only destroy natural habitats and kill insects–like bees–they also cause severe health impacts in field workers. (World Wildlife Fund)
- Genetically-modified (GM) cotton has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 94% of the cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. (USDA)
- The list of how genetically modified seeds and crops are harming humans, animals, insects, and the environment is extensive. In the case of genetically modified cotton, it has caused farm workers to become ill with skin and respiratory problems, it has killed livestock that have ingested it, and it’s built resistance in the very pests that the genetic modification was meant to curtail, requiring farmers to increase their use of pesticides. (Canadian Biotechnology Action Network)
- For additional information on why genetically modified crops are so dangerous, visit the Institute for Responsible Science.
Why it’s better to opt for organic cotton:
While it’s difficult to avoid cotton altogether, wherever possible, opt for organic cotton. Yes, it can be more expensive, but more people buying products made from organic cotton will help drive down the price. And it’s superiority to non-organic cotton when it comes to human, animal, and environmental health is undeniable.