Organic Cotton - Don't Buy the Hype

by Lisa Sturm March 14, 2018

Organic Cotton - Don't Buy the Hype

The preference for organic agriculture has existed for quite some time now and the reasons are entirely understandable. To be considered organic, a crop must meet two conditions: it must not originate from a genetically-modified organism (GMO), and it cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers or treated with synthetic pesticides. And there are two primary reasons that people seek organic goods: they are thought to be better for our health and believed to be better for the environment. But as with any premise rooted in science, there are varying opinions, contradicting research studies, and plenty of grey-area when it comes to truly weighing the costs and the benefits of organic consumerism – and with organic costing as much as 400% more, it’s important to understand whether the benefits are real or merely perceived. At Cotton & Care, our premium Supima cotton is not grown organically, but we do strongly believe in conscious consumerism. We’ve done all the research, sifted through the facts and the fiction, and concluded that conventional US-farming, American manufacturing, and a traceable supply chain are the most ethical and responsible way to make a set of sheets. And by avoiding the organic mark-up, we’re giving our customers an option that is both consciously-made and affordable. Nothing beats that!

Eating Organic and Wearing Organic are not the same thing

Given the choice, no one would want to expose themselves to potentially harmful chemicals. On the surface, organic brands leverage this sentiment to market their products. But understanding the health implications of organic vs. conventional cotton isn’t that simple – first, because “organic” doesn’t actually mean that no chemicals are used, only that no synthetic chemicals are used, and second, because there is no evidence suggesting that wearing clothes (or sleeping on bedding) made from cotton treated with chemicals is harmful.

While true that organic cotton is grown using fewer chemicals, it still uses naturally derived chemicals, and there is some evidence suggesting that certain organic pesticides can actually be worse on the environment than their synthetically-derived alternatives. There certainly are farming chemicals that you’d want to avoid at all costs, but these are banned from use in the United States. So where the “organic” label may be the only way to control for the safety and responsibility of imported cotton, buying US-grown cotton is a worthy alternative.

The clean eating initiative has been wildly popular for some time now, and as happens with fads, it’s given way to a “dress clean” counterpart and the corresponding spike in demand for organic cotton. But the potential health impacts differ drastically between controlling for chemicals that your body consumes and relies upon for nutrition, and the chemical exposure of a material that merely comes into contact with your skin. While comparing the cost with the benefit, and prioritizing your pursuit for organic-living, I think it’s important that you consider the difference.

What’s grown organically may still be chemically dyed and treated

This leads to the next point – if you believe there to be health benefits to organic cotton, I’d warn you to carefully review the full supply chain of your textiles. The label of “organic cotton” simply refers to the growing process of the raw fiber itself; it’s not an implication of the manufacturing process that followed. The process of dyeing and finishing is the most chemically intensive step in making any textile material. In many cases, an overseas factory dumps the same synthetic dye or cancer-causing wrinkle treatment on organic and conventional cotton alike. This is again an area where utilizing American-manufacturing can ensure that only safe materials are used.

The truth behind the environmental impact of organic farming

The second part of the reason to go organic is because of the perception that organic farming practices are more sustainable and safer for the environment. This is based on the logic that the use of chemical pesticides contaminates the air, soil, and water supply. But in reality, some experts argue that organic cotton may be worse for the environment than conventional cotton. The reason for this belief is based upon the fact that organic cotton crops yield 45% less output than the conventional counterpart. This means that growing the same amount of cotton requires planting a larger number of plants, using almost twice as much land and more than double the amount of water. It’s also worth noting that one of the most environmentally-taxing parts of manufacturing comes from the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation of materials. How far the cotton has to travel before making it to your bedroom should be a factor in measuring the environmental impact of your bed sheets.

Organic Cotton vs. Supima Cotton

U.S. farming standards are superior to overseas counterparts

While the pursuit of organic cotton is a noble quest, many of the same requirements can be fulfilled with conventional US-grown cotton. The farming standards in the United States are vastly superior to those in most foreign countries. The most dangerous of pesticides have long been outlawed in the U.S., but can still be found in India, where farmers are often found spraying their crops out of buckets marked with the universal skull-and-crossbones sign for poison. The United States’ regulation of chemical use, coupled with conventional farming’s reduced water consumption and the lower carbon footprint of local manufacturing, makes Cotton & Care’s Supima a great alternative to organic cotton.

The Cotton & Care Advantage

At Cotton & Care, we’ve expertly designed and crafted our sheets to be three things: premium, affordable, and responsible. By using our US-grown Supima cotton and American manufacturing partners, we’ve created premium-quality sheets that are responsibly made, and by cutting out the middle man and putting purpose above profits, our products are surprisingly affordable. If your heart is set on organic cotton, then heed the warnings I’ve given and be on your way. But if you’re searching for sheets that are free from harmful chemicals and have the smallest impact on the environment, Cotton & Care will fit the bill. And with our surprisingly reasonable prices and 100% happiness guarantee, there’s no risk in giving them a try.





Lisa Sturm
Lisa Sturm

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