Organic cotton is cotton that is grown from non-genetically modified plants without the use of synthetic pesticides or commercial fertilizers.
There are 22 countries that produce organic cotton. The world's largest growers are India, Turkey, Syria, Tanzania, China and the United States. Organic cotton currently makes up 0.76 percent of global production and in 2009, sales were an estimated $4.3 billion, up from $3.2 billion in 2008.
Organic cotton has grown in popularity because of new information on the pesticides used on non-organic cotton. The cultivation of non-organic cotton uses 11 percent of the world's pesticides, even though it's only grown on 2.4 percent of the earth. Some of the pesticides used are considered toxic or carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency and are banned in the United States, but these pesticides can be used in other countries where the regulations are not as strict. Those concerned about non-organic cotton's effects on the environment and their personal health have begun buying organic cotton.
While switching to organic cotton is more expensive (at least for now, due to the fact that farming organically requires specialized knowledge, skills and time), but it does offer some advantages:
- No toxic chemicals that irritate the skin or are considered carcinogenic.
- Protection of air and groundwater from harmful synthetic chemical runoffs.
- Preservation of the environment and local biodiversity. For example, since organic crops don't involve the use of traditional pesticides, cover crops are used to create an eco-system that increase the population of beneficial insects and decrease the population of harmful bugs.
Organic cotton is either kept intact and made into items such as Organic Cotton T-Shirts or blended with other fabrics, such as recycled polyester, to create apparel like our Eco Long-Sleeve Zip Hoodie.
To see more organic cotton and other environmentally friendly products, check out our Eco-Friendly Promotional Products section.