Cotton is everywhere – clothing, towels, blankets, even diapers and feminine hygiene products. It’s used more than any other natural fiber including wool. The cotton industry produces an estimated 20 million bales of cotton a year. It’s ironic that the “fabric of our lives,” as the commercial goes, uses more chemicals in its production than any other human grown plant. Pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides, many of which are known cancer causing agents, are being sprayed over large amounts of land and polluting our water.
Thankfully there is an alternative. Some cotton growers are switching from the conventional way of growing cotton to growing it organically. There are many differences between conventional and organic cotton and they start from the very beginning of the growing process – soil preparation. Conventional farmers use synthetic fertilizers. After a few years the soil becomes saturated with fertilizers and will “burn” the crops. This causes the soil to be rendered useless. Not only will the farmer have to stop using the farm land for growing cotton, but it’s also not fit to grow any other kind of plant either. Organic farmers use organic matter for fertilizing and they rotate their crops each year to avoid zapping the soil of its minerals.
Some conventional cotton farmers have started to use genetically modified seeds. These seeds cause the plant to grow faster and to yield more cotton than natural cotton plants. Organic farmers use only 100% natural seeds.
There are many pests to the cotton plant. Insects and weeds alike are a constant threat to the growing cotton. Conventional farmers combat these issues with insecticides and pesticides. The insecticides not only kill off the unwanted bugs, but also the beneficial ones as well. Most of these contain known cancer causing agents. These chemicals can end up in our water supply and can build up in humans and animals. Organic farmers don’t use these harmful chemicals.
Choosing organic cotton is a healthy choice not only because it’s better for our environment, but also because when we’re wearing it close to our bodies(feminine products, clothing, blankets, baby items) we will not be absorbing all of those poisonous chemicals that went in to the making of the product. Thankfully the apparel industry is also seeing how important this is and you can now buy many products that are made from organic cotton. When we by organic cotton we are supporting the efforts of the farmers that are trying to make a difference in their community and on our planet.
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