We’re talking about all things organic in October. My forte is organic cotton, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on. For more info head over to Instagram and follow @ecofamilies_of_the_world_unite and follow the #OrganicOctober there is also an awesome giveaway with some amazing brands, such as, Pikolo, obviously, Frugi, Riverford, BeeBooBuzz, Shipton Mill, Piccalilly and many more!
Why choose Organic cotton garments?
It’s a good question, surely cotton is a lovely natural fibre too? Well cotton is definitely natural, but non organic has also be dubbed the dirtiest crop and theres nothing natural about the chemicals used to grow & harvest it.
Cotton is one of the most used fabrics in the World, however, only 1% of it is organic. Conventional cotton uses GMO seeds, lots of water, lots of pesticides amongst other unsavoury practices & thats before its processed which can have all manner of chemicals, heavy metals and harmful dyes used on it.
Field to Factory
One of the easiest ways I can see the benefits of certified organic cotton is to break it down from seed to garment and how each process benefits from it being organic.
Make sure its GOTS certified. We ensured and only wanted to use a GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard certified factory to make pikolo. This means the entire chain from field to factory is managed from start to finish.
So let’s start in the field…
The organic cotton seeds are non GMO. Not only does this mean they are free from being genetically modified, but also means all seeds can be harvested for the next year. Farmers aren’t reliant on big GMO companies to get the seed from. It’s a circular crop. Most organic farms also plan complimentary crops. These take different nutrients from the ground and being organic means the crops aren’t treated with pesticides. This with a crop rotation means the soil stays naturally rich and capable of holding more water.
Speaking of water organic cotton uses on average 90% less water than non organic, which in a World where water is precious, this is a huge benefit.
That water needs to run off, and when it goes in to nature and habitats the fact there are no pesticides helps nature and especially aquatic life.
Due to the quality of the soil & GOTS certification, synthetic fertilisers aren’t used on organic cotton. Synthetic fertilisers are one of the highest producers of nitrous oxide, which contributes to global warming.
There are no checks for non organic cotton! Organic Cotton certified to GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard) must comply with the very specific criteria set out in the standard, which includes:
- The evaluation of all chemical inputs against basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability
- The prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
- The prohibition of chlorine bleaching (bleaches must be based on oxygen)
- The prohibition of Azo dyes (which release carcinogenic amine compounds)
- Stringent limits on unwanted residues in all raw materials, intermediates, final textile products and accessories
- The prohibition of discharge printing methods using aromatic solvents and plastisol printing methods using phthalates and PVC
- The requirement for all waste water from all wet processing units to be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant
- The requirement for wet processing units to keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge.
- The requirement for all operators to have an environmental policy including target goals and procedures to minimise waste and discharges
From the field, we move on to the factory.
One of the most important factors when choosing to use a GOTS factory was the impact on the people making the garments.
A facility, that not only met the standards but went past them and looked to the future of the workers.
GOTS certification ensures workers are in safe, clean conditions. No forced labour and no child labour, living wages and strict social values.
Not only that but the factory sets its own standards when it’s too hot to work. Having maternity pay & leave and most recently helping to ensure all workers who wanted to be, received the Covid vaccine. In summary the social standard includes;
- Employment is freely chosen
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
- Child labour must not be used
- Living wages
- Working hours are not excessive
- No discrimination is practised
- Regular employment is provided
- Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
From purely a point of the benefits of physically using organic cotton, this is how it helps workers.
The cotton pickers and farmers benefit from not having any chemicals on the cotton. This also is true for the entire thread & garment chain. Workers spinning, cutting & sewing the fabric don’t have to worry about harmful pesticide residue getting into their lungs and on their skin. The dyes and printing is regulated to ensure it contains nothing harmful, again for garment construction workers they can be sure the fabric is good to work with.
This is exactly the same for the wearer, especially when lots, including our clothes are worn by children and babies. The most sensitive of skin is safe with organic cotton production. The organic cotton chain also reaches down to the packaging and tags.
Tags are FSC certified and use OEKO-TEX. standard inks.
We have also recently changed our packing bags to cornstarch bags which are compostable! Read more about them here.
Super soft for Sensitive skin!
Due to not using toxins from field to factory organic cotton is a super choice for sensitive and especially eczema prone skin. Organic is also super soft because its superior quality. This also means its lasts and lasts! The use of non harsh dyes and inks may mean you need to treat printed fabrics gently, but gently treating your organic cotton garments will also ensure they last.
So buying second hand organic cotton is an amazing option as well.
Organic cotton is not just good for you, its great for garment workers, farmers, pickers, packers, wildlife and the environment.
Organic Cotton links
GOTS – https://global-standard.org/
The Soil Association – https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/fashion-textiles/organic-cotton/
Our GOTS factory, Macrofast – macrofast.com