Cotton seems to be one of the purest and finest fabrics. It is also one of the most abundantly traded commodities on earth since it is used in a variety of fiber and food products worldwide. Cotton being so versatile and having immense commercial value is often neglected when enlisting the causes of environmental disorders and many diseases. This cotton is labeled to be pure but it is not. It is the conventional cotton which has taken a toll on the earth's air, water, soil and global health. Claims to persuade people into believing that 100% cotton is actually in its purest form are incorrect. The purest form of cotton is organic cotton.
Organic cotton is cotton which is grown without the use of pesticides or from plants whose growth has been genetically altered. Organic cotton is currently been produced in many countries; the largest producers being Turkey, India and China. Organic methods of producing cotton, earlier recorded a 30% increase in yield owing to a 90% drop in the use of pesticides. By the year 2007, worldwide production of organic cotton has been increasing at the rate of 50% per year.
Organic cotton is different from the conventional cotton available in respect of the minimal environmental impact it has. It is costlier to produce organic cotton but it has certain benefits which justify its high costs. 16% of the world pesticides are used in cotton production and chemicals are used for the recycling process once the fabric is finished with. This may further lead to pollution of the environment and may also cause direct damages to the consumers, in the form of skin irritation. Organic cotton avoids any such harm to the environment as well as people.
Unnatural farming imposes a serious threat to the health of people. Chronic diseases are seen as a result of the intake of food or consumption of goods produced through unnatural means. Unnatural farming or intensive farming aims to get the maximum output from intensively reared animals and crops. Conventional cotton is easily one of the most ordinary crops to have been farmed in an artificial way. It is sprayed with large amounts of pesticides up to 30 or 40 times a season to ensure a better harvest and these pesticides are so poisonous that they completely destroy the fields.
Apart from using the inorganic way to produce cotton, it is also used to create finished goods. Fabrics are usually dyed with chemicals and toxics which harm the health of people engaged in the process of dying, along with the health of the end users of the dyed fabrics. What has been a matter of increasing concern is, that, conventional cotton farming accounts for only 3% of the farmlands but for 20% to 25% of the total pesticides and the numbers are expected to grow since it has been noticed that the pests and insects are becoming more resilient to such pesticides because of their frequent use.
As of now, there seems only one likely alternative to such cotton farming and that is, the organic cotton farming. The basic requirement is that the cotton should be grown in fields where pesticides have not been used for at least a period of continuous 3 years. Such farming relies on natural inputs only, as opposed to inorganic farming which depends on the use of synthetics and chemicals.
However organic cotton demands intensive care and innovative management. Since it relies completely on nature, crop rotations are a normal exercise to increase soil fertility and physical methods like using the hoe to clear weeds are used. Pests are not countered by using pesticides; rather, they are left to be dealt by other insects. This way the natural food cycle and the life cycle is maintained.
Usually the concepts of natural fibers and organic fibers are misconstrued. Generally it is believed that, natural fiber and organic fiber are not different. However, the truth is that they are two completely distinct products. Natural fiber simply means fabric which is produced by fibers found in nature, like cotton or wool, but that does not mean that they are produced under organic conditions.
Organic farming aims to work with nature rather than working against it and does not need any further chemical processes to make the cotton softer. Organic cotton is not only important in the clothing chain but also in the food chain, as it is, the methods used are natural and will not pose any harm on health of living beings. Since organic clothing is part of an organic lifestyle, organic cotton is preferred over the conventional type due to its many advantages and its ability to maintain an eco friendly balance.