Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other crop in the world. One of the most aggravating ad campaigns I’ve seen is Cotton Inc.’s The Fabric of our Lives, where the corporation promotes this notion that cotton is “natural” and a basic human necessity. It is estimated that each year cotton producers use as much as 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of the world’s pesticides. An insecticide is a toxic chemical formulated to kill insects so that a crop is able to be grown more cost-effectively. The problem is that it’s impossible for insecticides to be contained to only pests. When sprayed on crops, they are blown by the wind to other areas and often seep into the ground water when it rains, poisoning our lakes and rivers and disrupting the eco-system.
The environment isn’t the only thing harmed during the production of conventionally grown cotton; people are to. According to the World Health Association, 20,000 farmers and factory workers die every year due to cancers caused by cotton insecticides. A person’s life is never worth the clothes I buy. Never.
Organic cotton, however, is NOT grown with the use of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides or Genetically Modified Organisms. It also uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on our environment, such as replenishing and maintaining soil fertility and building biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton uses far less water too.
Still, less than 1% of the world’s cotton is grown organically. Many new ecofashion brands have pledged to only use organic fabric, and large brands like H&M have been bringing organic cotton to the masses with their Conscious line. If you’re buying organic food but not clothing, you’re missing a major step to a sustainable lifestyle. I believe it’s our duty as consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions that will help shape the fashion landscape of the future.