September 4, 2009, Newsletter Issue #166: Organic Cotton

Tip of the Week

Cotton is the world’s most popular fiber however traditional methods of cotton farming are extremely hard on the environment. Traditionally grown cotton accounts for twenty-five percent of the world’s pesticide use. In the United States alone this comes to a total of fifty million pounds of pesticides. Organic cotton is much more eco-friendly because it is grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals. Farmers who grow organic cotton are contributing to sustainable, earth friendly practices. Organic cotton does not come from genetically modified plants. Manufactures turn organic cotton into clothing, bedding, bath accessories and other items. The way these items are manufactured is also helping the environment. One traditional cotton t-shirt made with conventional cotton uses a quarter pound of chemicals. The use of colored organic cotton is one of the ways that organic cotton gets it color. Colored organic cotton comes in shades of white, green, tan, brown and charcoal grey. Organic cotton in other colors has been dyed, usually with a natural dye. If a natural dye was not used, then low impact, fiber reactive dyes were used. The cost of naturally colored cotton is as much as forty percent cheaper than dyed cotton. Organic cotton is bleached using hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach. When purchasing organic cotton apparel it is important to note how much organic cotton is in the item. Some organic cotton apparel is one hundred percent organic cotton and some has been blended with conventional cotton or other fibers. Eco-fiber or recycled cotton is another option in cotton clothing. The material for this clothing is recovered cotton salvaged from the spinning, weaving or cutting process. Eco-fiber has not had harsh chemicals used on it during the processing of the fabric.

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