Organic. The term is finally starting to be mainstream. However, in the context of textiles it is not common in the general population. The price of organic sheets isusually more, and it can leave many customers with the following questions: Why pay more? Why is buying organic cotton important?
Working at Resthouse, an organic bedding store, I hear these questions every week. Before my research, I knew simple answers such as organic cotton does not get processed with harsh chemicals, but I didn’t know how harsh the process was to the environment, nor the level to which farmers are impacted by growing it. I decided to do more investigating and the result is this blog. Let’s get down and dirty with the dirtiest crop out there.
Choosing Organic for the Planet
I was not joking when I called cotton the dirtiest crop. Two point six billion dollars worth of chemicals are sprayed on conventional cotton crops every year, giving it the title of most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet (only 0.15% of the world’s cotton is guaranteed to be pesticide free).
Of the top 10 insecticides used on cotton, three are determined to be the most harmful to human health by the World Health Organization. It is also estimated that 20% of the industrial water pollution on the planet is caused by the treatment of textiles. Conventional cotton uses ridiculous amounts of synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, bleaches, and dyes. Approximately one pound of chemicals is used to produce three pounds of conventional cotton, and a t-shirt requires just under one pound of cotton to make. Choosing organic cotton means no harmful chemicals are used in the process of growing and manufacturing. Consciously choosing ethically made cotton for your mattress and bedding means you get to be best friends with the planet by helping keep its waterways clear of extra chemical pollutants.
Choosing Organic for your Health
Our skin is a sensitive organ that loves to absorb. Its exposure to chemicals can lead to many health concerns, which more and more studies are starting to conclude. Aldicarb, which can kill with just a drop if absorbed through the skin, is still cotton’s second best selling insecticide in 25 countries. Imagine its effect on babies’ skin which is especially thin and porous, making them even more vulnerable. People with skin allergies or sensitivities rarely have any side effects from using organic fabrics. Carefully choosing organic means less exposure to chemicals through your skin.
Choosing Organic for the Quality
Conventionally produced cotton material takes a lot abuse in production through chemical treatments. These acid or petroleum based treatments include scouring, bleaching, dyeing, softeners, formaldehyde sprays, flame retardants, to name a few. This leads to the breakdown of the fibre at a molecular level. Conventional cotton is estimated to start breaking down after 10 to 20 washes, whereas organic cotton starts to break down closer to 100 washes. Certified organic cotton has a longer lifespan because it has not been damaged in its fabrication. This means that in the long run the initial extra expense works itself out over time.
Choosing Organic for the People
Research has shown that there have been links to the chemicals used in farming, potentially changing the brain chemistry of farmers leading to increased depression and sometimes suicide. Also, choosing organic can help to reduce the accidental poisoning of farmers, which happens from working in conventional growing fields. Choosing certified organic means safe labour practices, with fair wages being applied and no child labour being practiced.
In effect, the farmers who grow organic crops are not exposed to chemicals in their water, food and fields. The more we as consumers purchase products with the planet in mind, the more likely this practice will become a global standard. In turn, this could keep producers free from serious chemical related illnesses, as well as possibly lowering costs for organic cotton down the road.
Choosing Resthouse for Certified Organic Reassurance
What I love about working at Resthouse is we will only accept a new product line if it meets our standards. These standards require authentic certification that assures socioeconomic, ethical and ecological responsibility. This means that you, the customer, do not have to worry about the impacts on the environment and communities involved in creating the products you buy from us. It also means you do not have to worry about the long term health effects to you or your little ones when you choose our products. We’ve got your back!
My hope is that the facts I’ve uncovered are helpful for you and your decision making. I know my eyes are wider with the new insight discovered. Until next time, sleep well and sweet dreams.
Resthouse Sleep Solutions
126 Station Street, Duncan, BC, Canada V9L 1M7