Tuesday, 6 July 2010

About Organic Cotton

So most of us have been using cotton all our lives – cotton sheets, towels, clothes... It’s supposed to be a natural product, isn’t it? So what’s the difference with organic cotton? I thought organic was just related to those tomatoes?

Food and clothing are two major product groups which have direct contact with our bodies. So shouldn’t we care what kind of processes and ingredients go into making these products? An easy example is organic fruit and vegetables, and the general knowledge that they are grown without the use of pesticides. Who wants to eat pesticides?

The same principle applies for other organic products, in this case, organic cotton towels. Conventional cotton is grown using lots of toxic chemicals, like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Organic cotton is not.

The term organic describes a method of farming without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or fertilisers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering, and are certified by an accredited independent organization. It is a system of farming that strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials that are of low impact to the environment. (Courtesy of Organic Exchange)

The differences between organic cotton and conventional can be seen through farming processes, such as seed preparation, soil preparation, water, weed control, pest control, and harvesting. The basic premise of organic cotton at the farming level is facilitating what the earth does naturally.

Conventional cotton growing creates a dependent cycle of chemical use which hinders nature from doing its job, and therefore creates the need for more chemicals to compensate. With conventional cotton, the pesticides and herbicides used to keep pests and weeds at bay takes all the good nutrients out of the soil in which the cotton is growing. Then in order for the cotton to grow, the soil needs more chemicals in the form of synthetic fertiliser in order to boost its nutrients. The methods used with organic farming including crop rotation and hand hoeing mean that weeds and pests are kept at bay naturally, and the soil is nutrient rich with organic matter. A staggering statistic is that conventional cotton growing accounts for approximately 25% of the world’s insecticide use – that takes a fair chunk of responsibility for spraying all those chemicals into the air.

The certifications OE 100 and OE blended which ensure our products are organic, extend beyond the farming level, right through to production and finishing of the organic cotton towel product. After farming, the production of the raw cotton into towels requires yarn production, whitening, finishing and dyeing. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 ensures the final product is suitable for human use, and sets strict limits on the amount of harmful substances contained in textiles.

In particular it includes:

• legally banned substances such as carcinogenic dyes

• legally controlled substances such as formaldehyde, softeners, heavy metals or pentachlorophenol

• substances which can be harmful to health such as pesticides, allergenic dyes or organic tin compounds

• parameters such as colour-fastness and a skin-friendly pH value, intended to prevent health problems

Our Bio Organic Cotton range uses cotton sourced from Europe, India and Turkey. The products are certified organic by the Organic Exchange standard OE 100 and OE Blended. It is certified safe for human use by Oeko Tex. It has been manufactured in accordance with the environmental standard ISO14001.


Organic Exchange Farm and Fiber Report 2009

Kooistra, K.J., Pyburn, R., Termorshuizen, A.J. 2006. The sustainability of cotton. Consequences for man and environment, Science Shop Wageningen University & Research Centre. Report 223. ISBN: 90-6754-90-8585-000-2.


Oekotex Standard 100

Organic exchange standards OE100 and OE Blended

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