Why Mamas are Switching to Organic Cotton
The Problem with the words “I’d rather not know”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever awkwardly muttered “I’d rather not know” after an uncomfortable, unwelcome topic creeps up on you—like that one time you were innocently enjoying a delicious hot dog and your sister decided it was opportune to share an unpleasant fact about its contents. Or that day you were oh-so-naively reading an article about Taylor Swift and Yeezy’s feud, and Buzzfeed decided to throw in an ad with a title that read something like “Did you Know your iPhone was Probably Made by a 5-year-old with a Skin Condition?” And now you’re agitated because, how rude. So you stare at your phone suspiciously or convince yourself that the hot dog (which has now turned to rubber in your mouth) is made up of normal animal parts. And the words just leave your mouth—“I’d rather not know”
*Insert boycotting of the internet and every hot dog ever made here*
Ignorance is bliss.
The thing is, these types of topics are uncomfortable (also very often controversial) because they create a discrepancy between our values/morals and the conveniences we enjoy in our daily lives. Obviously, we can’t know about every possible social injustice out there or even act on half of them (hello, fellow iPhone users!), but maybe it’s time to stop saying “I’d rather not know” and start doing a little research. Because knowledge is power, my friends. And there are things you really SHOULD know—especially when it comes to the health of your beautiful, precious baby.
And here’s one of them:
Cotton is filthy
No, really, cotton is considered the most toxic crop on the planet. And it’s everywhere. Clothes, stuffed animals, towels, bed sheets. When we see “100% cotton” we think we’re buying quality because cotton is soft, it’s breathable, it’s comfortable. And yet, 3 of the top 10 insecticides used in cotton production—Parathion, Aldicarb, and Methamidopho—are considered the most hazardous to human health by the World Health Organization.
The bad news? Some of these harmful chemicals and dyes have been found in the textiles after harvesting and can be absorbed into your baby’s sensitive skin and even their bloodstream.
If you’re thinking: “Well, I obviously wash my baby’s clothes before they use them” then here’s a tough pill to swallow—studies show that certain pesticides present in cotton fibers after harvest cannot be washed out. Ever.
After harvesting, cotton undergoes additional processes, including bleaching, brightening, dyeing, and treatments for wrinkle resistance, fire retardation, and others that require the use of more harmful chemicals, some of which are designed to NOT wash out. Even though many of said chemicals are known to be carcinogenic.
Cotton is Ruining the Environment
The immense use of water, energy, pesticides, and fertilizers in the production of cotton are responsible for major environmental issues:
The use of pesticides on cotton crops poisons the air, water, and soil, harming plants, animals, and entire ecosystems.
To produce a single t-shirt requires about 20,000 liters of water! This wastage of water severely impacts the environment.
Fact: due to the production of cotton in Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea (formerly, the world’s 4th largest lake) has caused surface levels to decrease to the point that 20 species of fish have become extinct.
Fertilizer production releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, and the use of nitrates produces nitrous oxide (which is 300 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming!)
Child Labor and Farmer Health
Children are more vulnerable than adults to hazardous pesticides, and yet, child labor is particularly common in the production of cotton, especially during the spraying season. Between 25-77 million agricultural workers—including children—suffer from pesticide poisoning; 20,000 of these cases per year are fatal.
The saddest part is, 99% of cotton farmers live in developing countries, meaning the cotton t-shirt you are wearing was very likely produced by workers suffering from chronic poverty and enduring low wages and dangerous working conditions. It could possibly even have come from the hands of a child.
So, how is organic cotton any better?
The Benefits of Organic Cotton
No harmful pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, or GMOs are used when growing organic cotton, reducing our carbon footprint and helping combat climate change (while keeping your baby safe!)
The production of organic cotton reduces the use of blue water consumption by 91% and energy demand by 62%
The use of toxic chemicals is prohibited during the farming and manufacturing process (meaning no harmful dyes/toxins!) Additionally, the absence of these harmful processes actually makes the fabric more comfortable to wear.
Strict standards must be adhered in the entire process, including safe working conditions, fair wages, and NO CHILD LABOR.
Tip: When choosing organic, make sure to look for a GOTS certification! Manufacturers that maintain this standard have to meet crazy strict requirements through each process—from harvesting all the way to labeling—so you can ensure you are purchasing truly organic products that were made ethically.
Okay, you convinced me, but organic cotton is EXPENSIVE. Even if I wanted to, I just can’t afford it.
I know. No, seriously, I know. I had a major dilemma choosing between conventional and organic baby clothes when I decided to start a business. But here are the good news:
Organic cotton hasn’t gone through a bazillion chemical processes, so it pretty much lasts forever. Whereas the $8 onesie you just bought from Walmart will start to fall apart after the first wash, organic clothes stay intact wash after wash after wash. So, you will get a million times more use out of them than from conventional cotton (hello, hand-me-downs!).
Already bought/had a magnificent baby shower and have a bunch of non-organic pieces? No worries! You don’t need to get rid of everything, I promise. Switch out the pieces that are in direct contact with your baby’s skin (i.e. onesies, bottoms, socks). If you already have a non-organic mattress, add an organic blanket on top to create a barrier.
Need a place to start? Check out our shop! All of our cotton products are 100% organic (and 100% adorable).