Organic Cotton Hammocks and Recycled Hammocks: the Better Way to Relax

Hammocks are a sublime was to relax, but what you’re relaxing in is worth consideration! Whether you’re shopping for an indoor or outdoor hammock, we recommend opting for hammocks made with materials that are eco-friendly. On UniGuide, we present hammocks made with natural fibers, such as organic cotton, as well as those made with recycled materials, including fibers derived from recycled water bottles.

Many hammocks are made with synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester. These materials are definitely durable, but they have environmental drawbacks, which we’ll describe in detail below. Hammocks made with commercial cotton, such as traditional rope hammocks are also pretty common. Alas, while commercial cotton is a natural fiber and therefore more biodegradable than synthetics, it also has drawbacks.

Whether cotton is organic or not, it requires 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. (World Wildlife Fund) However, organic cotton is far superior to non-organic cotton when it comes to human health, the health of animals, and also the environment.

If you have the choice between opting for an organic cotton hammock or one made with commercial cotton, opt for the one made with organic cotton!

Here’s why:

The Problem with Non-Organic Cotton:

  • Non-organic cotton uses a lot of insecticides and pesticides. In fact, 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)
  • The use of genetically-modified cotton has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 94% of the cotton now 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 even more. (Canadian Biotechnology Action Network)
    • For additional information on why genetically modified crops are so dangerous, visit the Institute for Responsible Science.

Why Organic Cotton Hammocks Are Better:

When we read the stats about non-organic cotton, we felt anything but relaxed! Organic cotton hammocks are superior simply because they don’t carry all of the problems that come with heavy pesticide use and other negatives associated with commercially grown cotton. The only “advantage” that a hammock made with commercial cotton has over one made with organic cotton is a lower price tag.  It’s true that products, including hammocks, that are made with organic cotton often carry a higher price tag. One source put that premium at between 5-50% higher for organic over non-organic cotton. In the case of hammocks, in our research, we saw about a 40% price difference, but that 40% difference means you’d spend about $42.00 more to get the organic hammock vs. the one made with commercial cotton.

Why is organic cotton more expensive?

If more people opted for organic cotton goods, like hammocks, it could help drive prices down. One of the reasons organic cotton is more expensive is because of economies of scale: organic cotton accounts for only 0.7% of the global cotton supply. (Organic Trade Association.) In addition, organic cotton can be more expensive because of the costs associated with organic certification and converting commercial farmland into organic farmland. It can take a farmer three years to clear their soil of pesticides and other chemicals in order to begin growing organic crops. Growing organic cotton also has higher labor costs because harvesting organic cotton is done without using chemical defoliation aids. (Tree Hugger.)

But as we consider cost comparisons, it’s essential to take into account the true cost of commercial cotton – and that’s reflected in the toll it takes on people, animals (including insects like bees), and our environment.

On UniGuide, you’ll find a selection of Colombian and Brazilian hammocks made with organic cotton by a company called La Siesta. La Siesta’s organic cotton hammocks are GOTS certified, which means the cotton is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, which is the leading textile processing standard for organic fibers. When a fiber is GOTS certified, every step in the supply chain is certified to meet strict ecological and social criteria, which is good for people and our planet!

Given all this, wouldn’t it be more relaxing to kick back in an organic cotton hammock than a non-organic one?

The Problem with Nylon Hammocks and those Made with Polyester and Other Synthetics

Hammocks are also commonly made with synthetic materials, like nylon and polyester. While durable, these materials also leave an unfavorable environmental footprint. Polyester is not considered eco-friendly because it takes a lot of energy to produce and its production emits greenhouse gases and other harmful chemicals into the environment. It also uses large amounts of water to produce, as well as  lubricants that can cause contamination in the water supply. On a more positive note,  polyester can be recycled.

Nylon, while durable and lightweight and therefore a great material for camping hammocks, is also derived from petrochemicals. Like polyester, nylon isn’t biodegradable. In addition, its production emits nitrous oxide (N2O), which is a greenhouse gas that has 310-times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Luckily today, there are options for both indoor and outdoor hammocks that are made with organic cotton and recycled materials. So, if you’re in the position to choose, go the eco-friendly route when it comes to buying a hammock. Isn’t knowing you made the right choice for our planet a better way to relax?

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