The Beauty of Organic Cotton

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Organic herbal dream pillows are one of the handcrafted products I offer through my online store. They are filled with blends of organic herbs and spices, which are designed to encourage restful, happy sleep. A friend who specializes in fabric crafts has commented on a couple of occasions that she doesn’t use organic fabrics because they are so expensive. Granted, these fabrics cost more than other types of cotton, but I feel strongly in making products that are good for people and for the environment. To help encourage the use of organic products by consumers, I price my pillows comparably to other non-organic ones.

I recently came across an article on the production of conventional cotton, and it reinforced my conviction to use only organic cotton in my products. The following article is reprinted with permission from the Blue Ridge Eco Shop blog:

Although cotton is marketed as clean, fresh and natural, conventional cotton is anything but. 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides in the US are used to grow cotton. It takes 1/3 pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to produce (1) cotton t-shirt.

Cotton Farms aren’t just using any pesticides. Cotton growers typically use many of the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. These are broad spectrum organo-phosphates–pesticides originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II. Many of these pesticides are endocrine disruptor’s and are creeping into our systems.

What does this mean to us?

Water Contamination – Cotton pesticides are contaminating our groundwater and surface waters which lead to our drinking water. Pesticides can be washed into streams and rivers where they contaminate aquatic ecosystems and kill fish.

Beneficial Insect Destruction – Pesticides kill beneficial insects as well as pests. Pesticides are suspected to be responsible for the severe drop in honeybees, the increase in frogs with extra legs and eyes, and the annual death of 67 million birds.

Farm worker poisoning – Pesticides used on cotton poison farm workers worldwide–causing acute poisoning and chronic illnesses. In California, cotton was ranked the third highest crop for pesticide-related worker illnesses.

Insect Resistance – Cotton pests are become resistant to pesticides. Insect resistance costs US cotton growers up to $1.4 billion per year and has caused a 30% drop in cotton yields in recent years.

Food Residues – Cotton pesticides can enter the human food chain through cotton seed oil used in processed foods and through meat and dairy products from cows fed on cotton seed meal.

What Can I Do?

Buy Organic. There are a lot of alternatives to conventional cotton. Organic fabrics these days are plentiful. The Blue Ridge Eco Shop sells organic cotton, soy, bamboo, hemp, a variety of organic fabrics. Buying used clothing is a great inexpensive alternative as well. This decreases the demand for convention new cotton clothing.

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