When I had my second child, it was the early 1990’s and we jumped on the “green” train. We did cloth diapers and bought as many organic items as we could. Organic kids clothing wasn’t in fashion–and come to think about, probably not even readily available. As we have added more children to our family and I have seen my siblings have babies, we discuss organic cotton clothing and why it matters.
The first thing that comes to mind for me is in my late twenties traveling across the South and stopping for gas. I happened to glance into a field next to the station. I wanted to know more.
It was a cotton field and I was fascinated. While it was an incredible discovery there are things about conventional cotton that takes a heavy toll on Mother Earth.
- Conventional cotton occupies only 3 percent of the world’s farmland, but uses 25 percent of the world’s chemical pesticides and fertilizer
- It takes almost 1/3 pound (151 grams) of synthetic fertilizer to produce 1 pound (453 grams) of cotton
- Cotton is the second most pesticide-laden crop in the world (after coffee) and number one in the United States
- Pesticides can include: orthophosphates, endosulfan and aldicarb.  Of all the pesticides used in cotton production (except 1) are classified as moderately or highly hazardous chemicals by the World Health Organization
- Those pesticides don’t settle and stay on crops, they seep into ground water, which becomes drinking water for an estimated 60 percent of Americans.
- Sadly, cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States—and the second cause of death after accidents
It’s a sad reality that we try to protect our children from so many things in our world, yet many overlook that fact that pesticides are poison. Consider the chemicals used in cotton production: silicone waxes, softeners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, petroleum scours, ammonia, and formaldehyde. All of these chemicals are hazardous to human health. For example formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen and has such side effects as severe pain, vomiting, coma, and possible death.
Those cotton fields go beyond pesticides. Check the label on your favorite salty snack, mine is potato chips. There’s that conventional cotton again–near the top of the list of ingredients!
Consider other ways conventional cotton is ingested–hulls from cotton seeds are common in cattle feed–which we ingest when we bite into that hamburger. These hulls are also been found in our milk and our meat.
Organic cotton acreage is increasing across the globe. Its crops are producing a better quality of life for the farmer and decreasing, often our food bills. The crops extend diversity and health without allowing genetically modified organisms. In fact, it must not use any toxic or persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilizer. For clothing, the standards are that no part of the production can use toxic chemicals.
These are all strong reasons why organic clothing is the better choice. Now consider your child’s sensitive skin. You won’t miss cuteness with brands like Emilie et Rose and Frugi and their skin won’t miss the chemicals. It’s a gentler way to parent. Your kids deserve it!