There's a pretty high chance that right now, somewhere on your body, you’re wearing cotton. Making up at least half of our wardrobe, cotton crops take up 2.5% of all cultivated land. Only 1% of the world’s cotton is organically grown.
Whilst we love cotton for its handfeel, its versatility, and its status as a natural fibre, there are unfortunately some major downfalls during the cultivation and production process of regular cotton that leave a pretty significant impact on the environment.
Common cotton cultivation is one of earth's most water intensive crops. Whilst determining the exact amount of water used in cotton production is difficult to pinpoint, cotton growing uses around 3% of the world’s freshwater supply. Thousands of litres of water are required in crop irrigation, as well as in the production of pesticides and fertilisers. Staggeringly, 16% of all pesticides sold are used for cotton crops.
These pesticides often make their way into waterways where they can infect water supplies and damage ecosystems through their impact on air quality and soil health.
Pesticides have been found to have serious consequences on the health of workers, who are not always supplied with safety equipment and often eat and drink locally from crops grown in the area.
With all this in mind, it’s particularly concerning that cotton crops tend to be grown in countries that are already facing water security crises, and heightened impacts of climate change.
Don't worry, we'll stop giving you the bad news, and start hyping up our new friend, Organic Cotton.
The benefits of organic cotton begin all the way at the seed and extend to the very end of its cycle. Here, we'll make it easy:
1. Organic cotton uses less water
The exact difference between the water consumption of organic cotton and traditional cotton is a hotly debated topic, but what we do know for sure, is that organic cotton is typically grown on small-scale farms. Because of this, less water is used in irrigation as it tends to be rainfed rather than drawing on ground water. This biggest difference in water usage comes from the lack of pesticides, which account for a huge amount of the water input in typical cultivation.
2. It does less damage to ecosystems by eliminating synthetic pesticides
Thanks to a lack of pesticide and use of natural fertilisers, organic cotton production leaves soil healthy and nutrient-rich. Healthy soil does wonders to prevent erosion and water pollution, and also allows farmers to grow additional food crops alongside their organic cotton. No pesticides or synthetic fertilisers means no runoff of chemicals into water systems.
3. Reduced emissions
Compared to standard cotton farming, organic cotton production reduces CO2 emissions by 46%. Whilst this is mostly due to the lack of pesticides, the cotton plant itself is also a hero in the fight. Due to being made up of almost 100% cellulose, cotton plants are incredible at absorbing CO2.
4. GOTS certified cotton is monitored for both environmental and ethical production
As production of textiles becomes more globalised, it's becoming increasingly difficult to effectively monitor each stop in the supply chain. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a certification that monitors the fibre processing stages of the cotton. GOTS monitors the chemicals used in the dyeing and finishing of the textiles, as well as ensuring that workplaces are safe, free from discrimination, and offer fair pay rates.
Here at Kip, we love organic cotton, and are quickly rolling it out across our product categories. We’re proud to say that our seasonal cotton bedding is 100% GOTS organic cotton, so you can rest easy knowing that your sheets were made fairly for both people and the environment.