Cotton and water! The two usually go hand in hand, but organic cotton is usually rain-fed, not irrigated, so it uses a lot less water. Organic cotton, as you probably know, is grown without the use of pesticides and insecticides. How is this done? Farmers use composted manures and cover-crops to replace synthetic fertilizers. Innovative weeding strategies are used instead of herbicides. Beneficial insects and trap-crops are used to control pests. Nature's frost and water inducement prepare plants for harvest, instead of using toxic defoliants. We like organic cotton.
As a benefit, you can keep wearing that comforting feel of cotton without the stress of what might be happening to the environment. You have options and a one good one is organic anything, cotton included. Organic cotton is generally rain-fed, using less water than regular cotton and no pesticides. The result is that what lies next to your skin is as pure and soft as an angel's wings.
Organic cotton is a far superior alternative to chemical laden conventional cotton. More and more farmers around the world are growing cotton without costly, harmful chemicals. Their yield is high and the quality of the cotton they grow is equal to or better than conventionally grown cotton. Their methods support biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, improve the quality of soil and often use less water.
Growing organically takes more time, requires more knowledge and skill, and, at least for now, costs a bit more. But it is worth it since it doesn't contain any hidden costs to our environment. So what's the problem with standard cotton?
The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in the United States as "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (Source: EPA)
Cotton ranks second for most pesticide use of all crops.
In the US, it takes about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and herbicides to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 84 million pounds of pesticides and 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to 14.4 million acres of cotton in the US in 2000.
In 1997, large apparel companies purchased 2.15 million pounds of organic cotton, which eliminated an estimated 43,000 pounds of pesticides and 485,190 pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. (Organic Fiber Council)
Research shows that the vast amounts of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, soil additives and defoliants used to grow non-organic cotton wreak havoc on soil, water and air around the globe. In 1995 approximately 250,000 fish were killed in Lawrence, Alabama, when heavy rains washed lethal concentrations of methyl parathion and endosulfan from cotton fields into a 16-mile stretch of a creek that emptied into a nearby lake.