You have probably seen the organic labels on food in the grocery store. You know that eating organic food will prevent you from ingesting any residual pesticides or herbicides and can be better for your health. But perhaps you’ve noticed the organic label on clothing or other non-edible products and wondered why you should buy an organic version of something you won’t eat. There are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to invest in organic products, including the ones you don’t eat.
According to Stanford University cotton is the “largest revenue-generating non-food crop” in the world. It also consumes some of the greatest amount of resources. Stanford states that conventional cotton production accounts for 10 percent of all water used for agriculture and 25 percent of all pesticides. Pest and weed management for conventional cotton is very intensive. It requires a large amount of chemicals in order to grown on such vast tracks of land. These chemicals are often applied by crop dusting or aerial drop. The chemicals directly and indirectly (run-off in water) effect the health of people and wildlife.
Organic cotton is the alternative to conventionally raised cotton. Organic cotton meets very strict regulations that don’t allow the use of any insecticides or herbicides. These restrictions also prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organism or GMO seeds.
According to AboutOrganicCotton.org, practices for raising organic cotton are very different than conventional cotton. Weeds are removed by hand, instead of with chemicals. Harmful pests are kept in check with healthy soils and biological controls. Biological controls include introducing insects that are natural predators to the pest insects. And, defoliation, a necessary process for harvest, is prompted through natural changes in temperature or water management, rather than chemically induced.
Caring for People and the Environment
These practices conserve resources and reduce the environmental footprint of cotton. Reducing the amount of energy and water used to grow cotton is healthier for the planet. Reducing the amount of chemicals used to grow cotton is healthier for people as well. Fewer chemicals circulating in the air, ground, and water means less people suffering from the ill effects of pesticides and herbicides. While you don’t eat T-shirts and bed linens, you can still protect your health and the health of others by choosing organic cotton.