Cotton farming can be very hard on the environment. It is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, accounting for 25 percent of all pesticide use. These chemicals are taking a toll on our environment and human health. Every T-shirt made of conventional cotton requires a quarter-pound of harmful chemicals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in one year alone, over 50 million pounds of pesticides were used on U.S. cotton fields. These pesticides deplete the soil and pollute watersheds.
Organically raised cotton uses no toxins or synthetic fertilizers. Organic cotton is produced without the use of harsh chemical bleaches or dyes and is allergy-free. Natural fertilizers, compost and soil amendments are used and advances in pest control, such as using ladybugs to destroy harmful insects, have taken the place of harmful pesticides.
Colored dyes are still a problem. Dyes are toxic chemicals, and their use and disposal have harmful effects on the environment. Organically colored cotton is being developed to address this problem; however, earth-tone colored cloth uses no dyes, because the colored cotton is grown on the stem in shades of brown, reddish brown, green and yellow. Color-grown cotton reduces the use of synthetic dyes and the cost of naturally colored cotton is cheaper than chemically dyed cotton. It has a softer texture, and the color-grown cotton will not fade when you wash it.
Recycled cotton is another more eco-friendly choice. Recycled cotton is made from recovered cotton that would have been thrown out during the spinning process. There are no harsh chemicals used in recycled cotton.
Cotton manufacturers are resisting the change to organic cotton. Manufacturers will do what the consumer dictates, and as a result, the change to eco-friendly cotton begins with the consumer. Here is a list of organic cotton clothing stores:
— Peaceful disorder — www.peacefuldisorder.com
— Recycleatee — www.recycleatee.com
— Faerie’s Dance — www.faeriesdance.com
— Lotus Organics — www.lotusorganics.com
— American Apparel — www.americanapparel.net
Gabriella Conte is one of the seven Eco-Reps recently chosen to represent Rider.