The Backyard

The Backyard

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Know Your Cotton

My cube neighbor at work was offered a pair of organic cotton slippers by her sister and she says to her sister, "what difference does organic cotton slippers make?" What?! So not only did she hear the scoop from her sister, she heard it from me too (poor thing). Beautiful, soft, cotton, is an earth-resource, depleting crop when commercially grown, using the traditional commercial methods. Cotton is a major crop in India and other countries, not as much here in the states. Cotton farming is dependent on water, pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and a lot of acres that end up soil-depleted. Some claim cotton accounts for 25% of all pesticide use because crops are typically sprayed numerous times a season to prevent the dreaded bollworm and other pests from feasting on their crops. To combat pesticide use, seed giant Monsanto developed a genetically modified cotton seed with pesticide built in that initially improved cotton crop production (early 1990's), but through the years, is simply not working any longer. The seed is costing farmers a fortune (seed is expensive and farmers can't save the seeds from year to year) AND they are discovering other pests are resistant to the seed and are invading the crops. This has been found in Arkansas and China too. While some very poor countries in India and Africa are finding cotton a way to improve local economics, they are also saying its killing them . Those of you that like to stay away from petroleum produced fabrics (acrylic, polyester, nylon, etc), and opt for natural fiber clothing like wool and cotton? Please buy organic. Yes, it IS expensive, but the earth and you are very much worth it. An alternative? Buy 2nd hand. When you buy non-organic cotton, you are supporting one of the most pesticide laced crops in the world.

1 comment:

livinginalocalzone said...

I do buy various kinds of cotton, but somehow organic cotton seems softer to me for some reason? Imagination? Don't know.

Though my concern with "organic" is that, like so many other products that are labeled "organic" the term is not well defined and it is hard to know if the growers are really compliant - even harder when there are not really standards on what "compliant" requires. That might be something to work on in general...