In responsible mode, we often talk to you about eco-design, recycled and/or organic materials, but concretely what does that mean?
In this new article, we will focus on organic cotton, and all the questions related to this material which is becoming more and more popular in the production of ecological textiles.
Let's start with two small definitions.
As you will have understood, organic cotton is like conventional cotton, but made without chemicals. It is found today in many everyday products such as our clothes, shoes, home accessories, but also in toys or children's diapers, or in beauty products.
Question 1 | What is the difference with classic cotton? Is it really better?
If the textile industry is one of the most polluting, the massive use of cotton has something to do with it! Indeed, cotton fiber represents more than half of the world consumption of textile fibers , just that. Although it is widely used, its production is nonetheless one of the most polluting, first of all for the planet, but also for humans because, according to the WHO, among farmers, nearly 22,000 die each year due to exposure to toxic products.
You will have understood that the cultivation of classic cotton is therefore very harmful. This is where organic cotton comes in: less capricious, it requires much less water than its competitor, because it drinks rainwater with pleasure! No need for GMOs to be softer, more flexible and thicker. Goodbye chemical fertilizers and pesticides, hello natural compost!
However, conventional cotton remains much more popular, with more than 17 billion tons sold per year, compared to 2 million tons for organic cotton. But hey, there's still work to do.
Question 2 | Less pollution certainly, but is it really better?
It is important to emphasize that organic cotton does not grow easily, and its production is not feasible everywhere..! You will find certified organic cotton in 22 countries, however, you should know that nearly 90% of world production comes from the 5 leading producing countries: India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Tajikistan . In other words, nothing very local, and therefore, a cotton that makes many trips to come and dress you. It's not very eco-friendly but what can we do better?
Unfortunately, we have not found the magic answer to this question, because today it is still the best alternative to conventional cotton. Making the transition from one to the other is a good step for the planet.
We have good news however for our American friends! If there is no production of organic cotton in Europe, there is in the United States, and almost 5,000 tons in total (3% of the total production of organic cotton), it is therefore possible for companies of American textiles to source locally.
Question 3 | "I think it's too expensive, why such a high price?"
We're like you, and we're not going to lie to each other, we don't want to spend 1/3 of our income on fashion items, even if they're made of super soft cotton. We're not going to lie to each other, consuming responsibly is often synonymous with "breaking the bank", but in fact if we look at it more closely, not that much. I would even say that it is mainly consuming differently.
Indeed, today it represents a higher cost because recycled or organic materials come from further away, are rarer, and cost more to produce. But all in all, if you think about it, by agreeing to pay a higher price, you encourage good initiatives and the development of eco-responsible solutions. An additional ten euros for fair working conditions, for a reduced carbon footprint, and protecting our beloved little earth, it seems so little. In the end, we can choose to consume less, but better, and the budget will remain the same. As everyone becomes aware, the demand for responsible fashion products will increase and there will be more and more choice.
Question 4 | How to be sure that the cotton is organic?
There are labels which certify that a production respects the standards. The best known is certainly GOTS (Global Organic textile Standard) which ensures that organic cotton has been treated socially and sustainably, from the harvesting of raw materials to labeling. The conditions for being labeled are as follows: the textile product must contain at least 95% certified organic fibers to obtain the term “organic”; to be defined as a product "composed of organic fibers", it must be 70% certified organic fibers.
Then there is also OCS (Organic Content Standard) which applies to any non-food product containing 95 to 100% organic materials. To do this, the presence and quantity of biological materials in a final product are checked and the raw materials are traced from their source to the final product. Each producer/supplier can apply for this label.
If you're still not convinced, then maybe your favorite celebrities will convince you. Many prefer textiles made from organic cotton. To name a few: Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson and Natalie Portman . Stella McCartney has also decided to create a collection entirely in organic cotton.
At SAOLA, we are already convinced. We have decided to use only organic cotton for the laces of our shoes. And we are really happy with the result! The laces are resistant, flexible, and very soft. Our GOTS-certified supplier is located in China, and since our production is in Vietnam, this minimizes the movement of raw materials.
In summary, the advantages of organic cotton are the less polluting methods and materials used, the farmers who grow it do not risk their health , and finally, numerous certifications ensure respect for the environment during the production and processing processes. transformation. However, this cotton is not without drawbacks: its production is mainly in Asia, therefore involves a long journey to reach us, Westerners.
While waiting for new innovations, we still recommend that you favor organic cotton over other materials, because you will thus be investing in the preservation of water, better soil and cleaner air for farmers. And that is beautiful.