As more and more industries move toward toxin-free, organic production, the question still remains: why should we choose organic cotton?
The answer comes down to a number of things, including the quality of clothes, use of toxins and the environmental impact of cotton production. Our Elves are more than happy to share our knowledge on this subject so that you can make a good decision for the health of your babies and our planet.
The main difference between organic and non-organic cotton is the way in which the product is produced and the amount of chemicals used in the process.
It’s not widely known, but cotton is actually considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop. Non-organic cotton farming uses more pesticides than any other crop, consuming between 16 to 25 percent of the world’s total chemical pesticides.
These chemicals include phorate, aldicarb, methamidophos and endosulfan (which are all highly toxic to farmers). US cotton fields use trifluralin, toxaphene and DDT, all of which are absorbed into the fabric that makes its way onto our bodies in the form of clothes, bedding and furniture.
After conventional cotton is farmed it is treated with a number of chemicals, including carcinogenic formaldehyde (used to prevent clothes from wrinkling), nonylphenol ethoxylate (a highly toxic, hormone-disrupting chemical), flame retardents and perfluorinated chemicals, the same substances used in teflon, linked to cancer and kidney disease.
Babies and young children have very delicate, porous skin, so it’s important that they are protected from these chemicals, which have been linked to everything from eczema to asthma, learning disabilities, autism, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Small infants can inhale the chemical residues used in conventional cotton manufacture, so it’s best to dress your little ones in organic cotton clothing whenever possible.
The great thing about organic cotton is that it doesn’t receive any damage from the harmful chemicals used during the conventional growing and weaving process. This means it’s not only softer, but will last longer. A good quality piece of organic cotton clothing will last more than twice as long as a non-organic alternative, which saves you a significant amount of money as each piece can be used for multiple children. Organic cotton retains its shape and softness for longer, and when cared for correctly will last for generations to come. Using clothes for a longer time is great for our precious planet too, which takes us to our next point…
By choosing organic cotton, you are also choosing to protect our environment. The pesticides used in conventional cotton farming pollute the land, air and water, whereas certified organic cotton does not introduce any chemicals into our environment.
Chemical run-off from conventional pesticide use causes disruption of our natural ecosystems, decreasing the biodiversity of our beautiful planet and introducing chemicals into drinking water. It also puts the lives of farmers and their families at risk; conventional cotton farmers are at a six times higher risk of cancer than non-farmers due to poor regulation of pesticides in developing countries.
By choosing eco fashion and organic cotton, you are protecting our environment for future generations to come.
Less pesticides = better for the environment, better for farmers’ health and better for you!
Thankfully there is now an increased focus on the working conditions and rights of textile and factory workers around the world—but we still have a long way to go. It can still be quite difficult to find out who made your clothes, where they were made, and under what conditions (pay, worker’s rights, safety etc).
When investigating a brand online, search for their impact statement or policy page. If a brand is ethical, they usually have extensive information available to the public. If the brand doesn’t say anything about where their clothes are made (or under what conditions), it can be a major red flag for poor worker’s conditions.
Keep an eye out for fair trade or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifications; by buying GOTS certified clothes you can be sure that each item has been produced with little to no chemical output, in an environment where workers are paid fairly, without the use of child labour, worker exploitation or discrimination.
Or better yet, purchase your clothes from a reputable, ethical retailer like Elves in the Wardrobe. We do the hard work for you and only stock 100% organic, ethical products that your children will love. By shopping with us you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not only protecting the health of your little ones, but also the health of textile workers around the world and the wellbeing of our precious planet.