Comparing Conventional Vs. Organic Cotton Farming
Almost a decade ago, cotton, the ultimate soft natural fiber that we all love and patronize, was tagged as the dirtiest crop produced in the world. With the heavy use of insecticides and pesticides in most of the global cotton production, it’s not difficult to see why.
“Cotton uses $2 billion of pesticides each year and accounts for 16% of global insecticide use more than any other single crop,” they said, leading them to declare cotton as the world’s dirtiest agricultural commodity.
Since then, the adverse environmental and social impact of cotton production has been well discussed, pushing the textile industry to switch from conventional cotton farming to organic cotton farming. But does it really matter?
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Just because cotton is the most used natural fiber in the world, it does not necessarily mean it's always good for you and the environment.
In conventional cotton farming, farmers were used to dousing their crops with many toxic chemicals to grow cotton faster. They were able to answer the demand of the fast-fashion industry through artificial means. Luckily, the eco-conscious mindset of people grew, continuously pushing the textile industry and the apparel industry to go ethical even in the new normal.
In organic cotton farming, everything is sustainable. Organic farming works with nature to maintain balance in the ecosystem and promote a healthier alternative to cotton production. Through organic means, farmers will be less exposed to pesticides and toxins, the soil that they’re farming from will be enriched, and the people who will buy products made from their cotton won’t be at risk.
WHICH ONE IS BETTER?
To know which method of cotton farming is better, there are several concerns that consumers should take into consideration when buying organic cotton clothes.
In terms of health, conventional cotton farming presents a quite scary reality. The synthetic chemicals used in the production of conventional cotton can make their way to your home, causing people to suffer skin reactions, allergies, miscarriages, birth defects, asthma, cancer, and even unintentional deaths.
According to the United Nations, around 200,000 people across the world die from the toxic exposure of pesticides. Although the use of synthetic pesticides and other toxic substances may have allowed cotton growers to produce cotton as fast as possible, it still has had catastrophic impacts on human health.
Organic cotton farming, on the other hand, prioritizes the safe production of natural cotton and supports the health of the consumers and the people who are growing them. The cotton is grown without harmful chemicals to help people with skin allergies enjoy allergy-free days and better protect the environment with hypoallergenic clothing.
It goes without saying: conventional farming is not only dangerous to human health, but it is also terrible for the environment. The use of genetically-modified seeds or synthetic chemicals pollutes water, ruins soil, and harms ecosystems. An article even reported that a t-shirt made from conventional cotton needs 2,168 gallons of water to produce compared to 186 gallons of water for a t-shirt made from organic cotton.
On the flip side, organic cotton production uses sustainable methods and chemical-free processes. It thrives by saving water and energy resources, maintaining soil fertility, depending on crop rotations, and working on other techniques to protect and nurture crops.
To note a separate finding: conventional cotton requires 15,000 Mj per tonne of cotton fiber while organic cotton has a primary energy demand of approximately 5,800 Mj per tonne.
A farmer who chose death over distress is a familiar story across families in the cotton production belt. Despite the extremely long hours of work and daily exposure to poisonous substances, they only earned very little in wages.
Fairness, while not part of the agricultural process, is an intrinsic component that must always be ensured. Every farmer must be treated fairly and with respect, be maintained in good health and safety, and be allowed to prosper from their investment in sustainable agriculture.
This is what organic cotton farming assures throughout the entire production process—a regulated and fairly compensated production. Aside from the sustainable aspect, including farmers in the equation matters as well.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?
Although awareness is just half of the battle, transitioning away from conventional cotton to organic ones can make a difference. So the next time you're buying your clothes, demand for more sustainable clothing practices from the textile industry and patronize clothes made from organic materials.
At Cottonique, we believe that utmost quality will only be achieved without using artificial chemicals or genetic modification, and handled only for good reason. From the watering process to the crop, we provide garments that you can be comfortable and feel good about.
By switching to organic cotton clothes, you help not only the environment but also the people who produce the cotton. View our collections now and shop for garments that are organically grown and adhere to the Global Organic Textile Standard. To know more about our fabric, visit here.
DISCLAIMER: The information presented on Cottonique is not, and will never be, intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content materials found on this site, from text, treatments, outcomes, charts, graphics, photographs, and study findings, are created and published for general informational purposes only. It should not, in any way, be construed as a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website.
Thus, readers are encouraged to verify any information obtained from this website with other accurate references and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with their physician. As Cottonique strives to help those with allergies live with better days, the hypoallergenic apparel brand encourages everyone to always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.