The benefits of organic cotton versus conventional cotton clothes.
Cotton, a natural fibre, is renewable and biodegradable. Its benefits and versatility are numerous, and yet there are a lot of misconceptions, with many of us believing that cotton is better for the environment and comes from a natural source. In reality, growing conventional cotton has a huge environmental impact, making it unfit for regular consumption.
It takes around 10,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton. The cost of cotton in an already water-challenged country like India is high. In order to keep up with the growing demand for cotton, manufacturers often resort to artificial means like GMO seeds, chemical fertilisers and excessive use of synthetic pesticides to make cotton grow faster. This impacts the soil, leaving the field unsuitable for growing other crops.
Growing awareness about the negative consequences of growing conventional cotton has led people to shift to a sustainable choice – that of organic cotton. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton is grown in a way that doesn’t require the use of synthetic pesticides or any toxic chemical fertilisers. Its production sustains the quality of soil and protects the ecosystem by using natural processes rather than artificial inputs.
Why is organic cotton better?
Organic cotton is sustainable: The process of growing organic cotton is chemical-free with a low impact on the environment. Elimination of toxic pesticides and fertilisers in its production process prevents contamination of groundwater, thus making drinking water clean and safe. Studies also claim that the impact of water pollution of organic cotton is 98 per cent less as compared to conventional cotton.
Growing cotton organically, without any artificial fertilisers, reduces soil nutrient depletion and creates healthy soil. This soil can be used to grow other crops and can withstand drought-like conditions. The absence of synthetic fertilisers in organic cotton farming promotes biodiversity and reduces global warming by 46 per cent.
In addition to environmental benefits, organic cotton creates softer, more durable, and long-lasting clothing. Since organic cotton is not processed with harsh chemicals, the resulting clothing is more comfortable when worn and is a great alternative for people with sensitive skin.
Promotes safe work and better livelihood: Hand-picking conventionally grown cotton can expose farmers to toxic pesticides. These toxic chemicals can also seep into the water supply, leading to weakened immune systems, illness, and in some cases, birth defects. Growing organic cotton keeps farmers and their families safe. They are not exposed to chemicals in the field or through the water supply, and can even introduce additional cash crops on the field to support their income.
Eliminates synthetics: Synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, or polypropylene can be harsh on the skin and are not suitable during summers. Most fabrics made from synthetic fibres absorb very little moisture. They become sticky when the body sweats, making it extremely uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. On the other hand, fabrics made from organic cotton are softer and breathable. Synthetic fabrics release micro-plastics in every wash cycle, which is not the case with organic cotton.
Organic cotton uses less energy: The energy demands of organic cotton are much lower than that of conventional cotton. Recent studies suggest that the energy demand of organic cotton was 62 per cent lower than conventional cotton, reducing the environmental footprint on earth.
Caring for the world and the people and other living things we share it with is a life choice. Choosing organic cotton over conventional cotton is a part of this choice. Organic cotton is softer, hypoallergenic, and lasts for a long time. The most important benefit of organic cotton is protecting the environment, reducing water wastage, safe for livestock and ensuring a safer working environment for farmers. Thus, it is high time we turn ourselves into conscious consumers and switch to organic cotton fabrics and lead a sustainable life.