“Conventional cotton has “earned” the title of being the dirtiest crop on earth.”
Cotton is an extremely thirsty material. It takes 2,700 litres of water to produce enough material for one T-shirt, which puts the environment and communities in danger. “With one-third of the world’s population living in countries which are experiencing water shortages, it is unforgivable.” - WWF Panda
Apart from the mass use of water, cotton is also grown with pesticides that contaminate the soil and are extremely harmful to the surrounding communities. “Global organisations estimate thousands of people exposed to the chemicals used in non-organic cotton production die of cancer, poisoning, and miscarriages each year.” - Swedish Lines
Organic cotton is grown without using the harmful pesticides and produces around 46% less CO2e, therefore better for animals and communities surrounding the farms. The farms are situated in rain-fed areas, meaning farmers rely on rainwater to grow their crops. Organic cotton is significantly more sustainable and ethical as it protects our environment and the farmers from pesticides and vast water consumption. However, only 1% of the cotton industry is organic. Which does not break into the cotton industry enough to be a viable sustainable alternative.
GOTS Certification allows buyers and suppliers affirmation to whether a farm is producing the raw material organically. This certification is not limited to cotton but all organic textiles. Look for GOTS certified on the label of your clothes
Is Organic Cotton a credible alternative?
Organic cotton is a credible alternative, as the quality of the fabric is not affected throughout the production method. However, any production method that does not cut corners; protects its farmers, crops, and environment will be at a higher price. But is there any price too high to save the planet? The sooner people accept that, the sooner consumers can make the right decisions. “We vote with our money.”
I hope this gives you some insight into why conventional cotton is so bad for the environment. Remember: Just because the raw material is natural doesn't necessarily mean it is sustainable and not harmful to the environment or farming communities.