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20/03/2019

Learning The Difference Between Conventional Cotton Vs Organic Cotton

Some of the most common questions among our customers are.. What is the difference between standard cotton and conventional cotton? What is the use of standard cotton? Is organic cotton a more responsible option for our planet?

Cotton is the most popular fabric all over the world and accounts for more than half of all fibre needs across the globe. To keep up with this demand, cotton farmers often resort to artificial means and use excessive amounts of pesticides to make the cotton grow at a faster rate. The products manufactured with this type of cotton tend to be full of chemicals and can be damaging to the skin, causing allergic reactions. The pesticides affect the soil and the water which causes damage to the natural resources in the process and disturbs the ecological balance. This damage causes soil loss and leaves land unsuitable for growing other crops. All this harm to the environment to produce only a single T-shirt!  

In more recent times, the world is waking up to this reality and has become more conscious about these issues and what we can do to tackle them. With more attention towards these environmental issues, it opens a door for better production methods and popularity among organic materials.  

(Source http://cottonedon.org/)  

Purity of the Cotton 

The purity of cotton fibres is judged from the way the cotton is picked. Cotton is either handpicked or machine picked. Organic cotton is completely handpicked, preserving the purity of every fibre and ensuring that no fibre is damaged in the process. 

Regular cotton is more in demand and supply and is usually machine-picked to cope with the rush. This doesn’t maintain the purity of the fibres, and damages cotton fibres in the picking process, leading to loss and wastage. 

Organic cotton products are softer than regular cotton because of the longer fibres. Being handpicked ensures these fibres don’t get weakened or broken, resulting in softer and more durable products. 

Cotton Farming

Traditional cotton farming starts with genetically modified seeds (GMO). They are modified to build a resistance towards bugs, over time more pesticides are required. Organic cotton is produced using 100% natural seeds so there is no use of pesticides or other harmful chemicals. The bugs are controlled with insects that kill the pests. As a result, organic cotton products are safer for the skin and the process is much safer for the workers involved in harvesting.

Traditional cotton is grown on the same soil repeatedly which deteriorates the soil quality, removes all-natural nutrients and leads to an unhealthy crop harvest. The crops require more water as they are irrigated heavily, which leads to immense amounts of water wastage.  

Organic cotton is rotated from one soil to another, so the natural nutrients retain water for long which means that the land requires less irrigation and produces much healthier crops. This also allows farmers to grow food on the same land, allowing them to diversify their income. Growing food or other crops helps to ensure organic farmers against crop failure, climate variability, price volatility and changes in market demand.  


It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one T-shirt using traditional cotton farming methods.  

Weeding 

The weeding process of traditional cotton uses herbicide chemicals to kill off the weeds. The use of such toxic chemicals affects the quality of crops, removes all of the moisture and nutrients from the soil and harms the farmers working on the land. Out of the total amount of pesticides used in farming, more than 25% is used for cotton production. This constant use of insecticides and carcinogens can lead to life threatening illnesses for farmers and can dramatically affect the neighbouring environment. In organic cotton manufacturing, weeding is done only by hand, with no harmful substances used in the process, this causes no harm to the people who are cultivating the crop.  

Up to 77 million cotton workers suffer poisoning from pesticides each year. (http://cottonedon.org/) 

Manufacturing 

Processing traditional cotton uses a large amount of chemicals. Even after washing the finished product, the residue of these harmful chemicals remains and can cause irritations on the skin.

Organic cotton uses safer alternatives to chemical dyes and whitening agents. Instead, natural or water-based dyes are used to manufacture the finished goods. Organic cotton is softer, hypo-allergic and lasts for a long time. The most important benefit of this natural fibre is protecting the ecosystem, reducing water wastage and ensuring a safer working environment for the farmers and manufacturers. Organic cotton is a sustainable and Eco-friendly alternative to regular cotton. The future is in sustainability!

This is why our Earth Positive and Fair Share lines are composed of garments made with 100% organic cotton and with GOTS certification.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the international standard for textile processing for organic fibres, including social and ecological criteria, backed and certified independently throughout the supply chain.

Continental Clothing is committed to ethical fashion, being socially responsible and favourable to the environment, our health and our workers.

You can read more on the adverse affects of cotton farming here: http://cottonedon.org/Portals/1/Briefing.pdf

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