When it comes to the foods we give our kids, choosing organic products is important and even a must for some parents, but what about the clothes our kids wear? Shouldn’t we care about what clothes they wear on their bodies just as much as what food they put in their bodies? Though organic clothing might not be top of mind for most parents, here are 10 reasons why you’ll want to dress your kids in organic cotton from now on.
1. Cotton is better for the environment than synthetics
Cotton is a natural fiber, grown from sunlight, water, and soil without any synthetic or man-made materials. It has been around for thousands of years, which makes it one of the oldest and most reliable fibers. Because cotton is natural, it is annually renewable and biodegradable. The fiber is even regulated by the USDA as a food crop.
2. Rain fed organic cotton uses less water
Growing any crop takes a lot of rain water, but do you know how much water it takes to grow inorganic cotton used for clothing? According to the World Wildlife Foundation, 2,700 liters of water are used to produce a single cotton t-shirt. In contrast, a study done by the Soil Foundation found that organic cotton takes 91% less water to grow than its inorganic counterpart. The greatest reason for this is that organic cotton is grown using rain, not irrigation like inorganic cotton. By using rain as a source of water for growing cotton, farmer’s can work with nature as opposed to against it. Buying organic cotton supports farmers' efforts in reducing their water footprint and provides relief to cotton producing countries that are already facing severe water crises.
3. No harmful pesticide residue touching your kids skin
Every year, inorganic cotton production requires about 200,000 tons of pesticides and 8 million tons of synthetic fertilizers. Out of the top 10 pesticides most commonly used on U.S. produced inorganic cotton, eight of them have been classified as moderately to highly hazardous by the World Health Organization. Not only do these toxic pesticides and fertilizers wash into waterways and end up in drinking water supplies, but they remain in the cotton as it is manufactured into clothing. Who wants harmful pesticide residue touching their kids skin? Nobody! With organic cotton, you don’t have to worry because organic cotton is pesticide-free and only fertilized with organic matter, such as manure and compost, eliminating harmful pesticide residue.
4. Healthier for farming communities
As mentioned previously, traditionally grown cotton requires massive amounts of water which depletes drinking water supplies that local communities rely on, as well as decreases water for food production and contributes to a loss of plant and wildlife species. By using natural fertilizers, drinking water in the community is safe for the community because low-level exposure to pollutants, such as fertilizers and pesticides, can lead to serious illnesses, including cancer, birth defects, and infertility. Organic cotton keeps local communities safe from water scarcity and illness caused by inorganic cotton.
5. Cleaner air and water
Organic cotton benefits human health by eliminating hazardous toxic pesticides from water, soil and air, which reduces incidences of poisoning and illness that can arise from chronic exposure, particularly in low-income countries where access to healthcare is often limited. Clean water isn’t only important for drinking water purposes, but also for other livelihoods that depend on it, such as fishing and agriculture. By growing organic cotton, communities and ecosystems can thrive without risk of poisoning and illnesses caused by frequent exposure to harmful pesticides and fertilizers otherwise used in inorganic cotton farming.
6. Increased incomes for workers and farmers
In order to be certified organic, textiles must receive a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, which means the production of the textile meets strict social and environmental criteria. Not only does this certification ensure that low-impact chemicals are used and water use is monitored, but it also guarantees that working conditions are highly valued. With a GOTS certification, working conditions must be safe and clean, forced or child labor is prohibited, minimum wages must be met, excessively long hours are banned, unions can be formed, and workplace discrimination is unacceptable.
Organic farming can also result in increased wages for farmers. A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that organic farming is significantly more profitable, 22 to 35 percent, for farmers than conventional agriculture. By purchasing organic cotton, you are directly helping farmers make a better, more sustainable living.
7. Transparency in knowing the source of your cotton
When buying clothes for your children, it’s almost impossible to know exactly where the fabric is from. Of course you could look at the tag to see where the item was made, but that’s about it. Certified organic cotton, on the other hand, is traceable from farmer to consumer.
8. No microplastics to contaminate waters
All clothing sheds microfibers when washed, yet, the microfibers shed by synthetic fabrics contain microplastics that aren’t biodegradable. These plastic microfibers have become so invasive in our environment that they can be found in table salt in China and inside fish from the California Coast. How can such small fibers cause such a huge problem? Well, it’s because they are adding to the 270,000 tons of plastic particles that already plague our oceans. Cotton fiber is different. In contrast to polyester, cotton biodegrades 76% after 243 days in wastewater according to a study done by Cotton LEADS. The study also suggests that over time, cotton will continue to biodegrade, while polyester will not. When you dress your kids in organic cotton, you can be sure that plastic microfibers have nothing to do with their clothing.
9. Cotton is a natural, soft, and breathable fabric
When it comes to products we need to be soft and gentle on our skin, such as clothing and home textiles, we generally choose those made from cotton. Cotton is naturally hypoallergenic, giving the fiber its gentleness, especially for those with sensitive skin. Not only is cotton soft and gentle, it is also extremely breathable. With its ability to absorb water up to 27 times its own weight, according to The International Forum for Cotton Promotion, cotton is capable of wicking away moisture on warm days. As moisture is pulled away from the body, air is able to circulate to keep your body cool and comfortable.
10. Everybody loves cotton!