Do you ponder the benefits of organic cotton for your children’s underwear? You know the claims. Organic cotton is higher quality and more pure than conventional cotton. It’s grown without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. It’s just plain better for your kids.
And the natural growing methods of organic cotton are good for farmers and the environment. Who would argue against pouring fewer chemicals on our fields and into our drinking water? If you wonder whether these claims are true, you have come to the right place for answers.
Organic Cotton is Pure and Natural
What does natural mean? There are so many claims for organic cotton it can be difficult to know what’s true. In fact, cotton suppliers who want to be certified as organic must jump through many hoops. You can read about each one in detail at the United States Department of Agriculture website. But all organic cotton must meet two basic requirements.
Organic Cotton is grown without harmful pesticides and herbicides.
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for organic products made my head spin. But we can take comfort in knowing that this list exists. And any product, food or textile, that claims to be organic meets this requirement. I take comfort knowing that any allowed substance has been tested safety.
Organic cotton can not be grown from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
This means that the seeds used to grow organic cotton are natural. They have not been modified to resist pests, like the vast majority of seeds used to grow cotton throughout the world.
Look for the GOTS certification
However, is it enough to just meet these basic requirements? Brands who follow socially conscious business practices use a higher standard. They use cotton certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS. This program is universally recognized as the highest and best standard for organic certification.
Good brands also require that the manufacturers and processors meet international social standards. GOTS certification gives consumers additional peace of mind. To achieve GOTS certification, producers must follow these practices and more:
- Makers must separate organic fibers from conventional fibers to prevent mixing.
- All dyes and processing chemicals must meet requirements for toxicity and biodegradability.
- Bleaches must be based on oxygen – no chlorine allowed.
- No toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, or genetically modified organisms are allowed.
- No printing methods using phthalates are allowed.
Organic Cotton is Soft
Organic cotton is softer than conventional cotton. Usually handpicked, organic cotton typically has longer fibers than conventional cotton. These longer fibers contribute to the softer, more comfy feel of organic cotton.
Organic Cotton is Good for the Earth
Manufacturers of GOTS-certified cotton must follow a stringent set of rules throughout the supply chain. The supply chain starts with the cotton seeds themselves. Farmers grow the cotton. Mill workers turn the cotton into yarn. Dye house workers bleach the cotton white or dye it the beautiful colors we love.
GOTS certification ensures that all workers follow the rules. Testing is performed at each step to ensure the cotton is free of all harmful additives and residues.
Organic Cotton reduces toxic chemicals in the environment
Humans love cotton. We love our soft cotton t-shirts, luxurious cotton sateen sheets, and comfortable cotton underwear for our kids. Chances are, you are wearing something made from cotton right now. Conventional cotton production uses close to 3% of the world’s arable land. Yet cotton is responsible for nearly 20% of pesticides and herbicides used worldwide.
These numbers are sobering. And somewhat overwhelming. Are you tempted to say what can one person do? Yes, it can seem like buying one pair of organic cotton children’s underwear is just a drop in the bucket. However, I like to think a little differently. Little steps add up. Small changes can make a difference. And organic cotton production is increasing as consumers and growers see the benefits.
Every acre we can shift to organic cotton production means:
Fewer harmful dyes and chemicals released into the water supply
Reduced toxins in our food supply
Decreased water usage and more water for drinking
Improved soil health and increased biodiversity
Fewer sick farmers from exposure to toxins
Seriously, choosing organic cotton seems like a great idea now, doesn’t it?
Organic Cotton Improves the Lives of Workers
Organic cotton producers care about workers’ lives. They follow a set of GOTS criteria which include:
- No forced labor
- Right to collective bargaining
- Safe and hygienic working conditions
- No child labor
- Living wages
- Working hours must not be excessive
- No discrimination
- No harsh or inhumane treatment
These seem like basic rights, don’t they? But for many apparel workers throughout the world, they are not. Read more in this blog post about Choosing Factories with Care.
Organic Cotton Costs a little More
Yes, organic cotton is more expensive. First, it costs more to grow the smaller quantities, without relying on chemical pesticides. And picking cotton by hand costs more than by machine. Therefore, organic cotton products can cost about 20% more than similar items made with conventional cotton. I think this is a small price to pay for all the advantages of organic cotton. Do your little one a favor and consider buying organic cotton. The earth will thank you.
Click below for a list of our kid’s underwear made with organic cotton.