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What is the difference between organic and traditional cotton?

What is the difference between organic and traditional cotton?

There's always so many discussions about organic products, vegan products, GMOs, and an abundance of other things.  So what do they really mean? Let's cover the basics specifically as it relates to understanding the difference between organic and traditional cotton! 

 

It's really important to understand that purchasing something that comes from organic materials versus something that is conventionally grown really does make a difference! But let's talk about it.

 

Conventional versus organic cotton

Let's start with understanding conventional cotton.

From the beginning, traditional or conventional cotton is planted from GMO or genetically modified seeds. Typically, the genetic makeup of these seeds is modified to make them more resistant to disease and bugs.  Similar to how bacteria in our bodies build resistance to antibodies, bugs and disease build resistance to these GMO.  

While GMO can in some cases be effective to ward off these challenges, it can also create an increased need to use higher volumes of pesticides as the insects become more resistant. Pesticides are essentially chemicals sprayed on the crops to kill bugs.  

Additionally, conventional cotton is traditional continuously grown on the same plot of land, which over time degrades the soil quality as it loses the same nutrients each season cotton is grown. Ultimately, this leads to lower quality cotton, which directly affects the look and feel of the garments you wear. 

Because the soil is devoid of nutrients, it is more difficult for the water to retain water.  On overage, conventional cotton requires 91% more water than organic cotton. Not to mention, the pesticides and chemicals mentioned earlier are more common in the general water supply with this amount of additional water is used. 

When thinking about the labor component of traditional cotton, the farmers are continuously exposed to these toxic chemicals. Over time, these chemicals can cause health issues including cancer, reproductive complications, and neurological issues.

Organic cotton
Let's look at organic cotton.
Contrary to issues presented above, organic cotton is planted with non-GMO seeds, and includes the use of zero pesticides.  Typically, the crop is rotated locationally so as not to use up soil nutrients season after season.  91% less water is utilized in organic cotton farming.  Not only does it use less water, but no toxic chemical pesticides are being released into the water supply. 
While organic cotton growing is not the be-all end-all solution, it's a plant-based fiber that is a better alternative to polyester or other synthetic alternatives.  When wearing clothes made from 100% organic cotton, you can rest assured that you're not releasing microfibers into the air and water supply, which is a large benefit. 

 

 

Sources:

https://sleepsherpa.com/organic-cotton-vs-regular-cotton-whats-difference/#:~:text=Regular%20cotton%20farming%20starts%20with,pesticides%20or%20other%20harmful%20chemicals.

https://www.eco-stylist.com/is-organic-cotton-really-sustainable/