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Sustainable Textile Spotlight : Organic vs Conventional Cotton

Updated: May 1, 2023

Conventional Cotton vs Organic Cotton

FACT : It takes about 2,700 liters of water to produce 1 cotton t-shirt. The production of conventional cotton has been well-documented to be extremely wasteful, polluting & damaging to human health.

Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides & herbicides. Organic cotton cotton production is also more environmentally friendly, needing less energy (because of less need to operate machinery for irrigation & chemical spraying), and up to 91% less water than regular cotton.

Organic Cotton Certifications

Even though Organic cotton is grown more sustainably, it can still be processed & dyed with toxic chemicals. Which is why you should look out for certifications (e.g. Oeko-Tex Standard 100, or GOTS), which guarantee that your textile or yarn is free from toxic chemicals.

GOTS is the worldwide leading textile standard. Products with the GOTS organic certification contain at least 95 percent organic fibers. Unlike other standards, the GOTS certification oversees the entire textile chain. GOTS ensures the supply chain is free of harmful substances.

The OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 oversees the textiles in a product but not the entire supply chain. For this reason, an OEKO-TEX® certification does not mean your product is

organic. However it does mean your item is chemical-free.

Benefits of Organic Cotton for your skin

1. Better for your health

Organic cotton is free from harmful chemicals, metals & toxins and thus much less likely to cause skin allergies (like rashes or hives). Our skin is an essential barrier that protects us from environmental toxins. Chemicals in fabrics can penetrate our skin after prolonged contact, causing health problems such as kidney & liver diseases, and respiratory & central nervous systems disruptions.

2. Softer & more gentle

Organic cotton fibres are longer & more durable than convention cotton (which may be damaged by harsh chemicals). Also the organic cotton is mostly hand-picked vs machine picked, which ensures the fibres don’t break or weaken. This makes it softer, more gentle & smoother to the touch.

3. Cleaner & more breathable, due to a more natural cotton seed that has not been genetically modified.

4. More environmentally friendly

It uses less energy & water to produce; and will biodegrade in 5 months compared to conventional cotton which will take longer as it has been treated with chemicals. When conventional cotton biodegrades, it will also release chemicals into the soil, hence contaminating it. OK this is technically not a skin concern but it will make you feel SO much better about choosing organic cotton :)

Therefore it makes sense that when you are looking for personal skincare products like reusable cotton rounds or wash cloths, you should consciously choose those made from certified organic cotton.

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