About Nothing beats the feel of cotton. That’s what the commercials say, but what they don’t
tell you is that the feel or conventional cotton uses 25% of the world’s
insecticides. Not just the US, but the world. Regular cotton also uses 10% of
the world’s pesticides. In fact, regular cotton starts using pesticides on the
seeds. The little babies haven’t even had time to say their first words, or
sprout a twig, before they are brought down by the man. The man carrying the
chemicals. From seeds onwards, chemicals are a continuous part of the growing
Organic cotton not only doesn’t use pesticides, but it uses a
lot less water. How? Because organic cotton is a rotation crop. When crops
are rotated the soil maintains its nutrients and is better able to hold water
in. Regular cotton is usually the sole crop planted. Cotton depletes the soil,
and leaves the soil incapable of holding water. Mass irrigation happens on
regular cotton and uses 3,000 cubic meters more of water per acre to grow than
organic cotton. Most organic cotton is rain-fed and not irrigated, so helps to
save water in these times where over one third of the world’s population does
not have clean drinking water. Aren’t we lucky to be such an abundant nation
that we can use our water resources for golf courses? Don’t answer that. Not
that we have anything against golf courses, but it might be smart to only have
golf courses where they can sustain themselves without sucking up water we may
one day need for simple things like drinking and bathing. Call us crazy. Water
will always be around, right? I hope you all caught the sarcasm inherent in
that sentence. Water is a precious commodity and organic cotton farmers
recognize the importance of this and we are proud to be able to bring you
products that feel good and do a little good for the world. Organic cotton does
not compromise the look or feel of regular cotton. You can still wear your
organic-cotton-t-shirts around the house, out on the town and
you may walk a little taller knowing the secrets of how it was made.
Another plus is that organic cotton farms keep lots of people employed.
The weeds are hand picked to keep the ground happy, instead of dumping mass
amounts of chemicals (some originally used in warfare as nerve agents) on the
land, which can have the unfortunate effect of getting caught in the wind and
poisoning workers, ground water and the animals that depend on the ground water.
Think of 67 million birds per year falling to their deaths, dropping from the
sky and landing at your feet, or keeling over because they have ingested toxic
pesticides. In fact, most of the pesticides used on regular cotton have been
labeled possible, likely or probably known human carcinogens. What that means
is that they can cause all sorts of cancer, they are endocrine disrupters, can
cause developmental disabilities in children. Need any other reasons to switch
to organic? How about knowing that as many as 20,000 deaths per year are
attributed to accidental pesticide poisoning.
We’ve got a few more.
Organic farmers maintain a balance between pests and natural predators through
healthy soil and crop rotation, or using a variety of crops. They even plant
“trap”crops to entice the bad insects away from the cotton. In this scenario,
pesticides aren’t needed because nature, smart as she is, takes care of herself.
Organic farmers also wait for seasonal freezes to defoliate the plants, or they
use water management to stimulate defoliation. Conventional farmers use even
more of those fun pesticides I was just telling you about. They use more than
200 different types of chemicals just to manufacture the cotton.
One of the controversial issues in the US today is the use of GMO’s or Genetically
Modified Organisms. Europe and Japan refuse US products with GMO’s or they have
to be labeled clearly stating they contain GMO’s. Here in the United States, we
have no such fun labeling systems, so you could be eating GMO’s and not even
knowing it. Why should that be a concern? We don’t know. That’s the problem.
We don’t know the long-term effects on humans. GMO’s could turn out to be
another case like DDT. Other countries are more cautious about what they put in
their bodies. In the US we don’t even have the choice because we don’t know
what’s in what. Conventional cotton uses up to 70% GMO seeds. GMO’s were
developed to be resistant to certain insects so less pesticides would be needed.
The problem that developed is that secondary insect infestations have far
surpassed the primary infestations that would have happened if they hadn’t
tinkered with the seeds. Some growers say they use even more pesticides with
GMO’s than they did without.
In 2000, 84 million pounds of pesticides
were sprayed on only 14.4 million acres of conventional cotton, making cotton
one of the highest using pesticides productions in the US. By contrast, organic
cotton is grown on soil that has been chemical free for at least three years.
It’s time to be one of the cool kids like Patagonia who no longer use
conventional cotton. Wal-Mart and Target of all places now carry
organic cotton t-shirts. So does LL Bean. Besides, now you can
buy everything from handkerchiefs to kimono’s in organic cotton.
Right now, only 0.5% of the cotton market is organic. You have choices. The more
organic cotton that’s bought, the more will be made. Maybe one day, we will
eradicate regular cotton for good and the world will be a better place for you
This article is from ONNO, a t-shirt company in Boulder, Colorado. www.onnotextiles.com
My spiritual name is Sivakami, which means... one who desires transformation and one who transforms desires. I live in Rifle, Colorado where I teach yoga, create art and love life. I would love to hear your comments.