Why Buy Organic Cotton?

cotton plant, Texas, 1996, after chemical haul...

Some of us may have been there, standing in an aisle in the clothing store, trying to decide whether to buy the regular cotton t-shirts or the organic ones. The organic t-shirts cost several dollars more. Is it worth it? Is it worth spending more money on organic cotton products? There are many reasons that it is important to use organic cotton. The biggest reason is the amount of chemicals used in non-organic cotton and the effect they have on one’s health.

First of all, what is so bad about regular cotton and how it is grown? Regular, non-organic cotton is grown using synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Growing cotton uses up more than 25% of the insecticides used in the entire world, and about 10% of the pesticides used. About one third of a pound of agricultural chemicals is used in the making of one cotton shirt. About 1.25 pounds of chemicals are used in the production of a queen size sheet set. After a cotton shirt or cotton bedding is made, it is then treated with formaldehyde to make it resist wrinkling.

So those are the chemicals used in making non-organic cotton products. Are these chemicals bad for one’s health? Studies confirm that breathing in .1 parts per million of formaldehyde over a period of time causes headaches, dizziness, scratchy eyes and throat, nasal congestion, immune system and nervous system problems. Exposure to wrinkle resistant cotton shirts or sheets treated with formaldehyde can release up to 500 parts per million. It is possible that people have been living with health issues that have been blamed on other things, when the dangerous chemicals in the cotton they use every day, is the real culprit. If still not convinced that these chemicals are harmful, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classed the chemicals used in the growth and production of cotton, as some of the most toxic substances on earth.

Now that one knows that these chemicals are harmful to one’s health, how is one actually taking in these substances, when not consuming them?  People wear cotton next to their bodies all day. Most people wear cotton undergarments, cotton shirts and other articles of clothing. However, that is not all. One spends one third of his or her life with their bodies pressed against cotton bedding. The chemicals are breathed in, and also are leached into the skin on contact. As one can see, it is possible for a person to be in constant exposure to the chemicals used in the production of non-organic cotton.

After hearing the negative aspects of non-organic cotton, what are the benefits of organic cotton? To be certified organic by the USDA, the cotton must be raised without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers and not sprayed with formaldehyde. The seeds used to grow the cotton must not be genetically modified organisms, in accordance with the laws of what is organic. In many cases, cotton raised organically, is raised in a manner that is more beneficial to the soil, and the earth in general. Organic cotton is also less likely to be produced using child-labor, which is a prevalent practice in some countries.

In conclusion, there are some serious health risks involved in our bodies being in contact with non-organic cotton products, mainly clothing and bedding. Our breathing, immune system, nervous system, and overall good health may be in danger from these deadly chemicals. So, everyone must decide, is it worth the extra money to be on the path to riding chemicals from one’s life? Good health and peace of mind is what some would call priceless.


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