Cotton represents 25% of the world textile production. It is a widely used material because it allows high yields and is more economical to produce. However, its cultivation consumes a quarter of the pesticides used in the world, some of which are classified as highly dangerous by the WHO, for humans and for the planet. The production of organic cotton represents only 1% of the total cotton production.
First of all, the surface of land cultivated for cotton represents only 2.5% of the total volume of cultivable land, but it represents 25% of insecticides and 10% of pesticides used according to the World Health Organization. At Les Mouettes Vertes, since day one, our cotton comes from the first fully certified organic and fair trade cotton chain in India. We explain you why!
Organic cotton preserves the environment and human health
Conventional cotton is a type of cotton that is grown using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Its cultivation has harmful consequences and pollutes the soil and water, and can cause serious health problems for farm workers and the surrounding population.
According to the WHO, overexposure to pesticides kills more than 20,000 people in the cotton fields.
Organic cotton is cultivated using methods that respect the environment and health. It does not require any toxic product, and thus preserves the quality of water and soil.
In addition, farmers use crop rotation practices and natural insect control methods to maintain the productivity of their fields.
Organic cotton uses less water
Conventional cotton is known to be very water intensive. The majority of conventional mass cultivation is done in areas with a very high irrigation requirement.
According to the WWF, it takes 2,700 liters of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single T-shirt, while organic cotton uses only 243 liters*.
In comparison, a minced steak consumes an average of 1500 liters of water.
Growing organic cotton requires less water because the soils have a richer substrate than treated soils and allow for greater moisture absorption and avoidance of evaporation, thus reducing the need for irrigation.
In addition, the inputs and toxic products used in conventional cotton farming require a certain amount of water to be diluted, which is not the case in organic farming.
The social impact of organic cotton
In addition to its ecological advantages, GOTS-certified organic cotton imposes very strict specifications on the social conditions of the processing plants.
Its culture includes an ethical dimension and the respect of the working conditions of the employees in accordance with the recommendations of the ILO (International Labor Organization), an organization that works in the protection of human and labor rights.
- Elimination of forced labor
- Freedom of association and recognition of the right to collective bargaining
- Improvement of working conditions
- Abolition of child labor
- Salary adequacy
- Decent working hours
- Abolition of discrimination
- Regularity of use
- Abolition of brutal and inhumane treatment
Finally, it is estimated that a 29€ fast fashion t-shirt only earns about 16 cents for the workers who transform the raw material.
À which labels to trust?
Legally, there is no strict definition of organic cotton. International certification labels act as controllers and managers of the organic designation. There are several cases: a label can certify only the cotton and the way it was grown, it can certify the finished garment, and therefore the entire manufacturing process. It is essential to know the traceability of a product and to go only for certified materials or products.
Today, the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) label is a worldwide reference standard for organic textiles. The GOTS label guarantees the organic character of the textile from the harvesting of the raw materials and their processing to the labeling. A GOTS-certified product is subject to strict controls by independent bodies approved and appointed by national authorities.
GOTS is an independent organization and the labeling of products and brands is not free. Its social component can be reinforced by more advanced certifications, for example the SA8000 label, as is the case in our partner workshop in India.
To finish convincing you of the advantages of organic cotton, you should know that its fibers are stronger and more durable, unlikeconventional cotton fibers that degrade more quickly over time. So why are we still making conventional cotton products? Organic cotton is more expensive to produce than conventional cotton: its lower yield and better remuneration of producers have an impact on the price of products. However, more and more discerning consumers are willing to pay a little more for products made from organic cotton for its social and ecological impact. As manufacturers and brands, we have a real role to play in continuing to democratize organic cotton. Recently, another particularly virtuous alternative has appeared: recycled cotton. Its environmental impact is remarkable, it will be the subject of a future article!
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