Organic Cotton VS. Regular Cotton: What’s the Difference? – Brave Original Designs

Organic Cotton VS. Regular Cotton: What’s the Difference?

I always look at fit and comfortability first before thinking about what materials my clothing is made out of. When I was in college, we were happy to get whatever free t-shirts the clubs handed out, and as a club president myself, I know how pricey ordering shirts can be, so we always opted for the cheaper ones. 

Not much research was done and longevity between washes (and in general) wasn’t a major concern for us as college students. However, now that I’ve become more conscientious of my wardrobe and the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, I am more willing to actively look at the materials behind the clothing.

Let’s dive into the main topic.

How is organic cotton different from regular cotton?

Organic cotton is defined as cotton that is:1

  1. Not genetically modified
  2. Grown without the use of synthetically produced fertilizers or pesticides

In other words, it is much, much better for the environment than traditional cotton, which uses 16% of the world’s insecticides. Rather than using chemicals, organic cotton promotes biodiversity by using natural insecticides or employing the use of wildlife.

Did you know that 700+ gallons of water is needed to make one cotton t-shirt? Comparatively, organic cotton t-shirts need around 64 gallons of water.2 In some cases, this can be seen in the form of rain water.

Why choose organic cotton over other fibers?

Organic cotton isn’t just used for our clothing: we see it used for bedding and even skin care. 

For bedding in particular, better sheets make for better sleep. The higher the thread count, the softer the sheets. There is a caveat though, too high of a thread count can lead to stiffer and less breathable sheets. Cotton percale sheets collect less dirt than other types of bedsheets.3

Organic cotton feels much more breathable and cooling compared to its regular counterpart. 

Hidden Consequences of Cotton

Because regular cotton uses a number of pesticides and insecticides during the production process, thousands of the people involved have a higher risk of cancer, poisoning, and miscarriages. 

Much of the production process takes place in developing countries where entire families are involved, and so we have to keep in mind the people that work behind each shirt and how dangerous it is for them to make each piece. 

While we know not everyone has the capacity to spend large sums of money on their clothing, we have to remember that buying something at a cheaper price means an unsustainable living wage for the workers behind it.

What’s in store for the future?

According to the Textile Exchange, “55,833 hectares of cotton-growing land was in conversion to organic” in the 2018/19 Organic Cotton Market Report.4 After a year, the number of organic cotton farmers has increased by 7,000 farmers and the number of countries that grow organic cotton has increased by 3 from 19 to 21.

According to this report, and previous findings from the Textile Exchange, organic cotton production has been increasing for the past 4 years. Does this mean more fashion brands are looking to incorporate more sustainable fabrics into their designs? Will organic cotton clothing be appearing on the shelves in larger retail markets?

How many organic clothing items do you own in your closet right now? Are you starting to think about getting more? If you have allergies or skin irritation, try looking into pieces that are made of organic cotton next time.

Sources

1“CCVT Sustainable”. Archived from the original on 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
2https://www.soilassociation.org/thirsty-for-fashion/?utm_source=partner_referral&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=water_report
3https://www.swedishlinens.com/blogs/news/percale-the-secret-of-a-good-nights-sleep
4Organic Cotton Market Report 2021. (n.d.). Textile Exchange. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Textile-Exchange_Organic-Cotton-Market-Report_2021.pdf