Why Organic Cotton Is Better
Cotton is a fashion staple that’s been around for more than 7,000 years. And thanks to increasing consumer interest in environmentally friendly products, more and more companies now offer t-shirts, dresses, leggings, and more made with “eco-friendly” fabrics. But amid the hype of recycled water bottles and innovative blends with catchy names, organic cotton continues to stand out as one of the most powerful natural fibers. The material still captures the interest of the most conscious companies, Hass included.
This magical little plant produces a soft, weaveable substance that’s free of the pollutants and toxic chemicals present in synthetic materials such as polyester and rayon. It’s also moisture wicking, biodegradable, naturally breathable, and sustainable. However, it’s important to emphasize this only rings true for organic cotton.
Conventional (non-organic) cotton has given the material a bad reputation, and rightly so. Consider it the evil twin of organic cotton. Here’s why.
More pesticides are used for conventional cotton than any other crop worldwide. Responsible for the use of 16 percent of the world’s toxic insecticides, conventionally grown cotton wreaks havoc on the health of farmers and garment workers, waterways during production, the skin and immune system of consumers, and uses a mind-boggling amount of water. In fact, just one typical cotton t-shirt requires an estimated 700 gallons of water.
You may be thinking there’s no way organic cotton can be a significantly better option — but the data tells a different story.
Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals and therefore leaves the soil, air, and water that it comes into contact with free from contamination. According to the Textile Exchange, organic cotton also produces 46 percent less carbon dioxide than conventionally grown cotton and uses 91 percent less water (yes, you read that right). That's because organic cotton is primarily “rain-fed” as a source of hydration compared to conventional cotton, which relies on both rainwater and other water resources.
It’s also one of the safest materials available. Conventional cotton clothing is often woven with synthetic fabrics such as acrylic and polyester. These synthetic fabrics contain chemicals and toxins that can have myriad harmful effects on the human body, from endocrine disruption to heightened cancer risk. Meanwhile, organic cotton is generally recommended for even the most sensitive skin; it’s non-toxic, hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and doesn’t expose the wearer to harsh or harmful substances.
Organic cotton isn’t just a better choice for the environment and consumers, it’s a better choice for farmers, too. In the 1990s, business monolith Monsanto began selling genetically engineered (GE) cotton seeds to farmers around the world; this GE cotton eventually proved to be extra susceptible to pests. To combat this, farmers had to purchase large amounts of pesticides from — you guessed it — Monsanto. This created a dire financial situation for farmers caught in a cycle driven by Monsanto’s ability to create dependency on the GE seeds (which yield a large amount of cotton) and simultaneously increase pesticide costs. Tragically, this situation has led to inescapable debt for farmers and an alarming rate of cotton farmer suicide, particularly in India.
While it takes extra effort to grow organic cotton, the ability to work with nature — and not against it — ultimately yields better and more stable outcomes for farmers globally. And consumers and companies who choose organic cotton are creating greater demand for a material that has stood the test of time while supporting the well-being of our planet and those who grow it in a way that can be safely sustained.
That’s why at Hass, the cotton we use is always 100 percent GOTS certified organic (CU863637), ensuring it’s non-toxic, healthy for you and the environment, as well as ethically and sustainably harvested. We understand that cotton is a closet staple worth keeping around — but only when it’s produced organically.