High thread count Egyptian cotton bedsheets, your favorite comfy pants or lightweight shirt, cotton is one of the most beloved materials and for good reason. Cotton is a breathable fabric, it's also a comfortable, sustainable, and low-maintenance material that can be good for the planet, the skin, and the communities that create it. Cotton is actually one of the oldest crops in the world and has been loved and used for centuries.
From India to America, cotton comes from the cotton plant and is used not only in clothing, but to create currency, paper, rope, and even biofuel. But the world of cotton goes deeper than the casual cotton yarn we are used to, there are actually lots of different kinds of cotton fabrics out there. We take a look at all the different types of cotton and consider what you can expect from your cotton choices.
What is Cotton, Technically?
Cotton comes from cotton plants. This shrubby little plant creates creamy fluffy balls of fibers that gather around the cotton seed. The fibers need to be separated from the plant before they are cleaned, spun, and then woven into a fabric that we call cotton.
Cotton accounts for half the fibers worn around the world as cotton fiber is also used to create other fabrics and textiles too. Growing cotton is a long and highly involved experience with many moving parts. It plays a major role in our history and even to this day, we adore cotton as its a breathable, high quality, and highly durable material that is even quite an absorbent fabric.
How Does Cotton Impact the Environment?
While cotton is considered to be one of the more sustainable and earth friendly options for eco friendly fashion choices, it doesn't come without impact. Conventional cotton can have a negative impact on the environment. Here are some of the ways that raw cotton growing and harvesting can affect the earth beneath your feet.
Chemicals - As one of the most popular crops in the world, cotton uses 6% of the worlds pesticides, which is more than any other crop.
Water Usage - Cotton is a thirsty crop and takes a lot of water to grow. It can take over 2500 liters of water to make a single cotton t-shirt.
Land impact - As cotton growing takes up a lot of land, it can disrupt habitats and the extensive water usage can lead to the soil becoming overly waters which can make the land unusable for growth in the future.
Can Organic Solve the Problem?
So, cotton does come with an environmental cost but there are ways you can make your fashion choices earth friendlier. The answer is organic cotton.
Organic cotton is crafted using eco-friendly methods that don't involve pesticides, fertilizers, or any harmful chemicals that can seep into the land, the sea, and the air. It also takes 71% less water to grow and more than 60% less energy meaning that it cuts down on your carbon footprint.
Companies that have been certified as cultivators of organic cotton also have to work sustainably with their communities and offer fair wages to their workers.