We all want to make the best possible choices in our daily lives, but do you also find it difficult sometimes to know what the best option is?
Cotton is one of the most popular fibres in the textile industry, providing jobs for millions of people across the world. Plucked directly from the cotton plant and being processed mechanically, it is as natural as it comes. It is soft, breathable and very comfortable to wear next to your skin.
Therefore, surely, cotton must be great for us and for the planet?
Traditionally, cotton fabrics have certainly been perceived as the better choice in terms of the environment and our comfort, as opposed to synthetic fibres with a rocky reputation.
Unfortunately, cotton is not always as great as we think it is. Conventional cotton is the world's most polluting crop, accounting for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively in order to grow according to WWF.
Not only does it affect the soil and the ground water in the fields and surrounding areas, it also has an adverse effect on the health of the farmers and workers in the factories, and there is a risk that we subject ourselves to chemical residue when wearing clothes made of conventional cotton.
Luckily, there is a much better alternative, organic cotton.
Organic cotton is a non-genetically modified plant grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and is in contrast much more environmentally and people friendly than conventional cotton.
Using natural fertilisers only, organic cotton farming has little impact on the quality of the ground water, soil, animals in the fields and cotton farmers.
Best part of it? You can feel good about wearing it next to your skin, knowing that it contains no residue from pesticides, and the price difference on the tag is minimal.
Are there any downsides to organic cotton? Yes. Cotton is a very thirsty crop, and it is worth noting that organic cotton is still a vast consumer of natural resources as it requires just as much water to grow as conventional cotton - which is a lot. It takes 2,700 litres of water to produce just 1 cotton t-shirt according to WWF! With water being a scarce resource in some parts of the world, this is an important consideration.
At the moment, there are no truly sustainable alternatives to organic cotton on the market, and it is still the best available option for products such as jeans, baby wear, bed linen and towels.
By choosing organic cotton over conventional cotton, we can at least make a conscientious effort to take care of the environment, our health and the well-being of workers in both fields and factories.
And meanwhile, we can ask our favourite brands to source and develop good alternative fabrics that are even better for the planet.
Green is the new black!