Conventional or Organic Cotton
Have you ever gone to your favorite retailer and asked yourself “should I buy the conventional or organic cotton?” Chances are that you haven’t. The life cycle of cotton is something we often times never think about when we go shopping for new clothes. However, I ask you to consider the environment the next time you buy a new t-shirt or back to school wardrobe.
Cotton is arguable the most common fiber used for clothing in the world. In order to grow cotton for the masses, the conventional cotton industry has relied on significant amounts of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. An enormous amount of these chemicals are damaging to the environment. Some cotton farmers now plant and grow genetically engineered cotton to which claims have been made that less insecticides are used.
As shown in the clip below, supporting an organic made t-shirt will result in 1/3 of a pound in pesticides not reaching the environment at all. I strongly urge those of you reading this right now to support organic cotton instead of the conventional kind.
Though organic cotton has less environmental impact than conventional cotton, it costs more to produce. Side-effects of conventional production that are avoided in organic growing methods include:
- High levels of agrochemicals are used in the production of non-organic, conventional cotton. Cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts in total for 16% of the world’s pesticides.
- The chemicals used in the processing of cotton pollute the air and surface waters.
- Residual chemicals may irritate consumers’ skin.
- The conventional cotton industry relies on a high level of forced child labor.
Conventional cotton prices do not reflect the hidden costs we pay including billions of dollars in subsidies, pesticide regulation, hazardous waste disposal and overall environmental damage. In contrast, organic cotton is often farmed by small independently owned and operated family farms. Just another reason to support organic cotton.
Making the switch to organic t shirts is actually not as hard as it sounds. Even if you secretly shop at WalMart, as I have, you can buy them there for a bargain. Organic cotton t shirts are a little more expensive sometimes, but if you have the extra couple bucks then you should consider it.
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