I don’t know about you but I never really understood why people have always harped on about organic cotton. It’s always just seemed quite wanky and pretentious to me. Nobody eats cotton (well no one I know anyways) so what’s the big deal if the cotton we buy isn’t organic? And to be honest with you, I very rarely go out of my way to buy organic fruits and veg. Does that make me a bad vegetarian?
I so badly want to be one of those beautiful, hipped out humans, with long luxurious hair, who wander the local farmers market filling their hessian bag with organic, seasonal fruits and veg. But alas I am not, so it never really made much sense to ensure my wardrobe was full to the brim of organic, cotton everything.
It’s funny to think that something as lovely and comforting as cotton could have such a dark effect on people’s lives and the environment. Not to sound dramatic, but the wool or should I say cotton, has really been pulled over our eyes on this one.
To give you some background, cotton is grown in over 100 countries with the leading cotton growing contenders being China, USA, India, Pakistan and Brazil and is apparently responsible for a whopping 11% of the total production of pesticides in the world and 24% of the worlds insecticides. (source – The EJE Foundation)
Let’s talk pesticides. Ok, you’ve heard it all before, pesticides are bad. Sure they serve their purpose in allowing for the mass production of crops, but very simply, over exposure to pesticides is not good. They are mostly bad for the underpaid farmers that are exposed to them everyday, their families and the environment in which the cotton is grown. As a crop, conventional cotton requires the largest amount of pesticides out of ANY crops grown non-organically. Many of the chemicals used were originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War 2. You know, the shit developed to kill people? Terminate? End lives? That’s the shit many conventional cotton farmers and their communities are exposed to everyday to grow cotton for the western world.
You can probably guess the effect that that kind of exposure has on a human being. Over exposure to harmful pesticides causes’ infertility, birth defects, cancer and the list continues. In fact this is evident throughout various farming communities across India where children are born with physical deformities and mental retardation’s.
Pesticides also have a harmful effect on the environment, (surprise, surprise) poisoning water sources, damaging ecosystems and of course killing wildlife. If that isn’t enough, 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide over the last 15 years due to the economic hardship caused by massive amounts of debt from buying and maintaining the crops from genetically modified cotton seeds from Monsanto, along with a major lack of governmental support and appropriate compensation from the Indian government.
The original native cotton seeds are apparently no longer obtainable, so with pesticides rising in price, the market price for cotton decreasing, and uncontrollable weather conditions destroying crops, farmers are forced to give up their farms and are no longer able to pay the extortionate, high interest loans they originally took out to purchase their farms.
So basically what I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t be supporting the unethical practices of non-organic cotton farming, due to the devastating effect it has on the physical and mental health of farmers, their families, future families, communities and of course the environment. Phhew!
So if your next clothing purchase isn’t going to be second-hand, you should seriously consider buying organic cotton that is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard)
Check out my favorite ethical Australian and NZ brands for buying organic cotton –
Kowtow Clothing –
Carlie Ballard –
Alas the Label –