So what’s the deal with organic cotton?
Well at Peach Gallery, we think organic cotton is the gold standard for textiles and one of few materials we’re happy to see on our children’s backs, here’s why.
It is estimated that conventionally grown cotton uses as much as 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the world’s pesticides. In contrast, organic cotton is derived from crops that aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms at all. The authorities are surely regulating the use of these chemicals in imported textiles, especially in Australia, you say? This interesting piece by Choice provides an insight into the not so regulated industry. With around 90% of apparel found in stores being imported, and the rise of ‘fast fashion’ largely to blame for this, mindful shopping has never been so crucial.
The environmental impact of conventionally grown cotton is enormous, here are just some of the facts:
- It takes approximately 2700 litres of water to produce one cotton t shirt
- Many cotton producing areas are near river catchments and chemical residues often end up here destroying ecosystems and affecting the health of local people and animal wildlife
- Chemicals such as Chromium VI, DMF, Pthalates, Alkphenols, AZO dyes and Formaldehyde are few of the MANY toxic chemicals, (neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors), used that are potentially harmful to workers in the textile industry, wildlife ecosystems, us and our children
- Clothing is often sprayed with formaldehyde – a known carcinogen – to prevent wrinkling
- Almost all of the world’s textile dyes are coal or petroleum based and synthetic
Now that we’ve talked about the scary stuff, let’s hear the good news!
Organic cotton is grown in such a way that uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on our environment . Much of the clothing we source at Peach Gallery is endorsed by The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. This means that very high standards are adhered to from the growth of the crop, through to the manufacturing and ethics around fair trade.
Another standard often seen on clothing is the OEKO-TEX 100 certification, which is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used . Products are tested for chemicals based on product classes, (such as for babies and children up to 3 years, garments worn close to the skin and outerwear), with standards varying based on these classes.
Unfortunately it is not enough to wash new clothes if buying conventional cotton or other synthetic fabrics, particularly with babies and children’s sensitive skin. Certain chemical residues can remain even after several washes causing issues particularly in chemically sensitive people and these residues are still then polluting our waterways and marine life. The personal and environmental impact of conventional cotton is far reaching.
So what can we do?
We love the motto “Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last” – wise words from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
- Buy organic cotton or GOTS certified organic cotton clothing where possible
- Choose the next best possible option when certified organic cotton is not available, (often the case in outerwear, look for OEKO-TEX certifications and recycled materials)
- Consider quality, key pieces for your children that can last many washes, muddy puddles and several siblings!
- Wash clothes infrequently and with care to maintain integrity
- Teach our children to lovingly respect clothing the way we do special toys and other belongings – longevity is key