Cotton is a natural material that comes with the benefits of such i.e. allowing the skin to breathe and breaking down relatively quickly once no longer in use. However, it is not so straightforward as conventional cotton poses potentially significant environmental and health risks. So choosing organic is not just the latest trend but an important step for the health of ourselves and the planet. Unfortunately only 1% of all the cotton produced in the world is currently organic. This low consumer demand means accessing organic cotton seed is increasingly difficult. Read more here and then make the choice to switch to organic cotton where you can:
Conventional cotton is typically grown with genetically modified organism (GMO) seed. The potentially negative effects of these genetic changes on the crop’s toxic and allergenic properties on crop yields and on the environment in general are unknown. Organic cotton is grown from seed that is not genetically modified.
Conventional cotton farming practices result in less absorbent soil, so much more water is needed. Organic practices such as composting and crop rotation make soil more absorbent, increasing the effectiveness of water usage, so 90% less water is used. 80% of organic cotton is rainfed.
25% of all pesticides used worldwide are used on conventional cotton. 3 of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health – Aldicarb, Parathion and Methamidopho – are commonly used in conventional cotton production. There are no toxic pesticides used at all in organic cotton farming, meaning healthier workers and farm communities.
Conventional cotton farming leads to decreased soil fertility, reduced biodiversity, high soil erosion and degredation. Toxic and synthetic fertilizers are present in the runoff water, which then enter the environment. Soil in organic cotton farming has 70% less acidification potential and there is 26% less soil erosion. Soil is of higher quality, CO2 emissions are lower, and with no synthetic chemicals this makes for a safer food supply.
Conventional cotton leads to higher global warming potential due to fertiliser production, decomposition of fertiliser in the field, and tractor operations. There are increased health hazards for farmers and consumers, and reduced biodiversity. Therefore conventional cotton causes greater environmental harm. Organic cotton has 46% lower global warming potential, as it uses 62% less energy and produces 60% lower greenhouse gas emissions. There is improved ecosystem diversity and reduced financial risk to farmers (due to crop rotation). So organic cotton leads to safer environments.
Thanks to Coyuchi for this information which you can see in infographic form here.
Sometimes people are put off from choosing organic cotton because it can be more expensive. However the great thing about the Disana nappy system is that the organic cotton nappies are some of the lowest cost reusable nappies on the market. So not only are you making a great choice for the planet and your baby’s health, but it won’t cost you the earth either.
Shop Disana’s organic cotton nappies and liners here.