Conventional cotton is one of the worst natural fibers. It's extremely wasteful, polluting, and damaging to human health. It ruins biodiversity and soil fertility. On the other hand, organic cotton has many advantages, especially for the skin.
The benefits of organic cotton on the skin are multiple. It's free of harmful chemicals, clean, soft, and breathable. It's also more environmentally friendly and saves the lives of farmers, workers, and their families.
Many people think of shopping for organic products when it comes to food. They are safer for the body and the environment. It makes a lot of sense to buy organic food, but less so for apparel and textiles.
However, natural organic cotton is a better option for conscious consumers. It's not only more beneficial for the planet but also for your health.
Organic cotton is non-GMO. It's grown organically, without toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. It also values the welfare of farmers and workers.
The demand for organic cotton is growing within the fashion industry. More consumers are asking for eco-friendly products made from renewable resources such as organic cotton.
But it remains quite expensive and inaccessible to most consumers. Its production costs are higher and its availability limited.
Choosing to buy organic cotton can in many ways reduce the environmental impact of fashion. It's an ethical and sustainable practice well worth adopting.
Let's have a closer look at regular cotton before pitching the benefits of organic cotton on the skin.
What's wrong with conventional cotton
Cotton is made from natural fibers produced from cotton plants. They grow in subtropical countries around the world.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 30.3 million tons of cotton are produced each year globally.
China is the largest producer of cotton worldwide with 6.1 million tons of cotton produced in 2018, followed by India (4.69 million tons), and the United States (4 million tons).
Compared to conventional cotton, organic cotton has a relatively low demand. Only 107,980 tons of organic cotton were produced in 2016, according to the Textile Exchange Organic cotton market report.
About half of all textiles are made of cotton. It's the most widespread profitable non-food crop globally. But most cotton production methods are unsustainable.
According to the Global Fashion Agenda, regular cotton farming accounts for 16% of all insecticides, 7% of all herbicides, 4% of all nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers worldwide.
Cotton farmers use highly toxic synthetic chemicals such as Glyphosate, Trifluralin, Diuron, and Parathion methyl. They pollute nearby environments and have harmful effects on human health and ecosystems.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that farmers applied synthetic nitrogen fertilizers to 78% of planted acres, at an average rate of 94 pounds per acre, for a total of 821.5 million pounds.
Some hazardous chemicals used in cotton farming are regulated by usage restrictions in Europe and the United-States. But in many East-Asian countries, their agricultural use continues.
These chemicals irritate the skin and cause health disorders such as cancer, cell decay, cell death, and chromosomal aberrations. Chemical exposure results in fatigue, burning, itching, skin rashes, nausea, headaches, and respiratory problems.
Chemicals released during cotton farming also contaminate soils, water sources, and local communities. Three million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in an excess of 250,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Benefits of organic cotton
Organic cotton is grown in parts of the USA and other subtropical countries such as India, Turkey, and China. Read up my article on the truth about organic cotton to find out where it comes from.
Organic cotton is much better for the skin and the planet. It's time to consider organic clothing if you suffer from allergies, chemical sensitivities, or skin diseases. It's one of the best ways to avoid more skin concerns.
Organic cotton is grown without man-made fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Its growth relies on ethical, environmentally friendly, and organic farming methods.
There are many more advantages to organic cotton other than skin health. If you are still unsure about its value, read up my article on the pros and cons of organic cotton.
Organic cotton farming results in more soil fertility, a sustainable environment, lower water consumption. It's less likely to contribute to acidification, eutrophication, and climate change.
The environmental impact of cotton farming is highly variable. It depends on the country of production, climate, rainfalls, and irrigation methods.
It takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton, equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Organic cotton production aims to be more environmentally friendly. 80% of all organic cotton is grown with water form rainfalls, which reduces pressure on local water sources.
The Textile Exchange's Life Cycle Assessment on organic cotton estimates that organic cotton farming can potentially save 218 billion liters of water and 92.5 million kg of carbon dioxide.
The textile and apparel industry has a massive influence on global warming. Buying organic cotton can help tremendously. Read up my article on the fashion industry catastrophic contribution to climate change to learn more about it.
Because organic cotton production involves no toxic chemicals, it's safer, stops water contamination, farmers and workers' health issues.
It's important to look for certification standards when buying clothing made from organic cotton. The organic label has value only when it's certified to a standard approved by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
Learn more about the different production standards of organic cotton in my article on the case for organic cotton.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It's crucial to protect it for good health. Just like the products you put on your skin and the food you eat, the clothes you wear have a big impact on your well-being.
The skin protects the human body irritants, harmful microorganisms, water loss, and injuries. It's an essential barrier against exposure to environmental toxicity.
Most dyes used in the fashion industry are toxic. The processing, treatment, and finishing of garments is very dirty and chemically intensive.
Unfortunately, most people aren't aware of these issues. They put their skin at risk and compromise their health by wearing cheap fabrics made with hazardous chemicals.
Most chemicals in clothing and other textile materials penetrate and contaminate the skin after prolonged contact.
Benzothiazole and its derivatives are often used in cyanine dyes, herbicides, insecticides, biocides, and fungicides. It's a skin allergen that causes kidney and liver toxicity, respiratory and central nervous systems depression.
On the other hand, organic cotton doesn't irritate the skin or have any side effects. It's breathable, clean, and soft. It promotes better health for consumers and farmers, social and environmental stewardship.
Parents need to purchase organic cotton clothes to protect the skin and health of their children. Choose organic cotton diapers, blankets, socks, underwear, shirts, hats, and pajamas.
Here are some of the best places to buy amazing organic cotton clothes that will protect your skin, your well-being, and the health of your family:
The fashion industry has a disastrous social and environmental impact. Now more than ever before, it's a priority to protect our health, the lives of workers in the supply chain, the environment, ecosystems, and animals.
Buy organic cotton to keep workers, farmers, and their families safe. It eliminates exposition to toxic chemicals in the field, food, and water supply. It also helps to water conservation, cleaner air, better soil and farmer livelihoods.
Choosing organic cotton is part of a healthier and greener lifestyle for everybody. It contributes to social good and make a huge impact in the world.
Organic cotton used for clothing not only has amazing qualities such as strength, softness, easy-care, and breathability but also prevents toxic chemicals from damaging the skin.
Let us know your thoughts about organic cotton clothing in the comments section below.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.