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We decided to start using organic cotton for most of our textile products after finding out about the serious human and environmental harm caused by regular cotton farming, which uses 8x more pesticides per square foot than any other crop, and relies heavily on 3 of the most toxic pesticides known to man. This upsets the ecosystem, reduces biodiversity and poisons the local population, as well as trapping the farmers in an inescapable cycle of debt and depression as they are forced to buy more pesticides every year to grow the same volume of crops. Regular cotton production is also a primary cause of desertification, as growing enough cotton to make one t-shirt uses a staggering 25 bathtubs of water. For example, the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan (formerly one of the 4 largest lakes in the world) has now almost completely dried up as a result of irrigation projects for the growth of cotton and other crops.
In organic cotton farming natural pesticides (including chilli, garlic and soap) are used to deter pests while leaving their natural predators to do their intended work and weeds are physically removed rather than sprayed with poisons. Other organic methods include crop rotation and ‘intercropping’ - sewing another crop between and around the cotton to create a natural barrier against pests and provide another source of income or back-up food crop for the farmers. This technique has the added benefit of actually encouraging biodiversity; organic cotton fields are home to a significantly higher number of beneficial insect species than ‘traditional’ ones. Organic cotton crops are mainly fed by rainwater; the natural, composted fertilizers that are used feed the soil with natural organic materials, encouraging high humus content and increasing its ability to retain moisture. Organic farming is not only more sustainable and less environmentally destructive, but provides fairer income for farmers and a higher standard of living; it can be a real catalyst for positive social change in cotton growing regions. The organic cotton is also much safer to handle and process, allowing farmers to live healthier lives.
When we discovered the facts, going organic was something we felt compelled to do. We’re happy that we have the opportunity to make our humble wee contribution to these issues; they do say that if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem, after all. But for us, one of the biggest benefits of organic cotton is simply its lovely soft finish and wonderful quality - it just feels great in your hand, washes brilliantly and is perfect for sensitive skins due to the lack of chemicals used in its processing; we think thats a win-win situation.