Organic Cotton Does Matter!

The following information is based on a survey of information available in the public domain about conventional cotton growing. Prancing Leopard Organics believes strongly in organic cotton clothing. We believe that organic cotton clothing is highly preferable over man-made fibers or conventional cotton, and that significant environmental and human costs are involved with the growing, manufacture, wearing and disposal of man-made fibers and conventional cotton. However, we are not in the position to scientifically evaluate the veracity or accuracy of the information contained in the summary below, and of course we can not be held responsible.

Why does organic cotton matter? Here are the facts.

Conventional Cotton uses more harmful Chemicals than Any Other Crop
To the uninitiated, the crops of conventional and organic cotton farming don’t seem to be that different, but the environmental and health damage due to conventional cotton farming is alarming. More chemicals in the form of pesticides, fungicides, defoliants, fertilizers and herbicides are used on conventional cotton than on almost any other crop. In fact, fully 16% of all agricultural chemicals used worldwide are used to grow non-organic cotton – used on just 3% of the arable land.

Synthetic Fibers are not Biodegradable and are Laden with Additives
Synthetic and synthetic-blend garments derived from petrochemicals are potentially worse and longer lasting in terms of their global impact. The fibers are treated with elastomers and plastifiers to make them more supple and to engineer their performance. These are frequently volatile chemicals which are potentially harmful and some claim even carcinogenic. Where garbage is incinerated, these fibers give off large amounts of dioxin. Frequently the man-made fibers are nearly indestructible, polluting landfills for hundreds of years after they are worn. This is an unpleasant legacy for our children’s children.

Chemical residues are present in both Synthetic Cloth and Conventional Cotton Worn on the Skin
Studies have shown elevated levels of Pthalates, BPA and other potentially harmful substances in very young children. Pthalates, Formaldehyde and other chemicals from the food and health discussion are used in clothes, too. Chemical treatments are omnipresent in fabrics to provide anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking, wrinkle resistant, anti-static, anti-flammable, anti-curl, color-fast or stain resistant properties to the clothes. These treatments include pthalates, nano-particles, formaldehydes, petrochemical dyes, perfluorinated compounds, plasticisers and polycrylonitriles (most of them I cannot pronounce). Even the slight possibility of your skin absorbing all this makes people feel uneasy.

To minimize this effect, parents have begun to use organic cotton for baby clothing. Residue from agricultural chemicals are present in conventional cotton fabric. Even worse, the seeds from chemically treated cotton are used to make cottonseed oil which is really just an industrial by-product of cotton production. This chemically laced oil is widely used in fast food, for instance the potato chips and tortilla chips people buy in supermarkets (check your labels!).

Organic Cotton is the Best Choice for the Environment
We chose to use organic cotton after evaluating all the aspects of our business and of our world – all the elements that are relevant and important to each and every one of us – the environment, the health of every one of us and the oneness with nature. Organic cotton is not man-made in chemical laboratories by large corporations; not artificially grown using chemicals. It has a long and proven history of perfection as an ideal material for clothing.

It Matters also Where and How Cotton is Grown
We select hand-harvested Organic Turkish Long-fiber Cotton – also because it is the finest in the world. The soil, moisture, wind and climatic conditions in the areas of Turkey where our cotton comes from are ideal for growing cotton. Cotton has been growing there for centuries. Because cotton needs fixed nitrogen in the soil, crop rotation with alfalfa, clover and other nitrogen-fixing plants is practiced. This also prevents depletion of the soil.

Other areas in other countries have far less advantageous growing conditions for cotton. It is frequently too humid, too warm or lacking the right kind of wind for natural healthy organic cotton. Recently, there has been discussion about the legitimacy of so-called “organic” cotton grown in such areas, because in point of fact cotton does quite poorly without chemicals in such environments. They observe that in such humid, hot environments almost all cotton growers must utilize chemical fungicides to protect against rot, chemical pesticides to protect against insects, chemical fertilizers to nourish the plants and chemical herbicides to protect against weeds.

In developed countries, conventional cotton growers utilize machines to harvest cotton wherever possible in order to reduce costs, and also to help prevent workers from having too much exposure to the harsh chemicals. Usually they utilize defoliant chemicals to drop the leaves from the plants. Over 90% of all cotton grown in the US is Genetically Modified. Nonetheless, people living near conventional cotton farms and working in them too often suffer health consequences. Too often, the soil is damaged and water run-off is laden with harmful chemicals.

Purchasing Organic helps Provide Financial Incentive for Sustainable Farming
Many consumers do not yet realize the important differences between organic and conventional cotton, so they are not inclined to pay significantly more for the organic products. The huge price pressure of the consumer depresses non-organic cotton prices so strongly, that many cotton farmers around the world are not only suffering health problems, but some are even starving and can not pay the huge bills they owe to the chemical companies which supply their crop treatments (see videos).

Organic cotton farmers also suffer from the low prices, and many are giving up their farms and selling them to large corporations. These large multinational corporations (some of whom are household brand names) intend to gain control over, manipulate and industrialize “organic” cotton production, and in some cases even act to cut production of organic cotton in order to squeeze out competition.

Stand Tall against Industrialization of Organic Farming
We are passionate about organic farming and we want our success to show up as decent earnings in organic cotton farmer’s pockets. Many organic cotton farmers are really struggling for survival – it is not an easy business or an easy life. We want to contribute towards the organic farmer so that he or she can be empowered to continue this very challenging way of farming without having to compete so directly with the opportunistic and commercial conventional farming conglomerates.

From the richness of the soil to the balance between of our lives and the environment, from the smallest insects to the wild birds and animals, from the health of those who wear our clothes to the health of the farm workers, everything is dependent on our conscious decisions. Our consumption choices shape our environment and that of future generations to come – whether we buy a pair of polyester-blended pants or cotton jeans, whether we buy organic instead of not organic.

Social Responsibility and Sustainability go Hand in Hand
We deeply believe in social responsibility; we believe in using the most sustainable, environmental material alternatives.  We follow up in the manufacturing process and in every step from the processes in the organic farm to you wearing our clothes we strive to make and shape a better world for all of us. We utilize low impact dying processes, low-impact shipping and packaging, and we have minimized the use of synthetics (like the 5% Lycra we use in our four way-stretch fabric – we are still looking for a better alternative).  We are very actively engaged with our partners to research, develop and manufacture naturally-derived organic materials and processes which which we can reduce our environmental footprint.

In the end, it is the consumer who must decide through their buying decisions and behaviors to support the environment; from eliminating the use of plastic bottles to the purchase of organic goods from conscientious, sustainable manufacturers.  Our responsibility as a manufacturer is also fairly important, the decisions we make have a wide impact.

For more information, see also the article “Care What you Wear” from the Organic Consumers Association. See also the article “Cotton and the Environment” from the Organic Trade Association. See also the Podcast about the new book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” by Bruce Lourie. For more information about the Global Organic Textile Standards working group, the standards which Prancing Leopard strives towards, please click here.

Thank you for buying organic, sustainable and fair trade.

The above is based on a collection of information available in the public domain.

Prancing Leopard Organics believes strongly in organic cotton clothing. It is clear that organic cotton clothing is highly preferable over man-made fibers or conventional cotton, and that significant environmental and human costs are involved with the growing, manufacture, wearing and disposal of man-made fibers and conventional cotton. However, we are not in the position to scientifically evaluate the veracity or accuracy of the information contained in the above summary, and of course we can not be held responsible.