In a nutshell, it’s cotton fibre grown without the aid of any chemicals (GMO seeds, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides etc…)
It’s important to recognise that ‘organic’ refers to the fibre, not necessarily the end garment in all cases (see my post Superlative Alternative: Organic Cotton for further info)
Why is organic cotton a better choice than conventional cotton?
It’s better for the environment because
- Growing organic cotton uses less water
- Not using chemicals means local water supplies are not contaminated
- Organic cotton promotes inter-cropping which is better for the sustainability and health of the soil
- Certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) set strict environmental criteria throughout the entire supply chain (not just in the growing phase of organic cotton but in the processing and manufacture of garments too)
It’s better for farmers and communities because
- The health risks associated with chemicals no longer apply
- Inter-cropping provides more financial security as farmers have additional crops to sell
- Growing a variety of crops also gives famers and their communities increased food security
- Again, certifications such as GOTS set strict social criteria throughout the supply chain from seed to finished garment
Organic cotton certifications to look out for on your clothing labels include:
- GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
- OCS (Organic Content Standard)
Combining an organic certification with a fair trade certification is a winning combination.
5 good brands to buy from:
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