#2 Org. Cotton vs Cotton

First check out the differences between Conventional Cotton vs. Organic Cotton #1 from the very beginning, from Seed Preparation through harvesting and you’ll see the stark contrast between the two.  And that only takes you through the growing cycle.  The truth is that the difference continues all the way to the clothing rack.

It is best to discuss the difference in philosophy or better yet the Culture of the Conventional Cotton Textile Industry vs. the Organic Cotton and Socially Responsible Apparel Industry.  At virtually every step of the process there is a decision to be made and that generally boils down to doing things the “right way” or the “fastest (cheapest) way”.  Unfortunately, most every decision comes down to the bottom line, to how much money can be saved, but at what expense.  This is where the cultures depart; the Organic Industry opts toward more socially responsible practices, while the Convention Cotton Industry run by mega-corporations look for ways to increase their profits. 

Once harvested the process begins again with one group using harsh chemicals to process the fiber and to dye the fabrics; While the other, uses more responsible processes and vegetable dyes.  The end result is the organic cotton fabric is incredibly soft and with the use of vegetable dyes; the colors are softer, more earth-like.  Generally and specifically at the Green Living Center, the Organic Cotton Manufactures are more Socially Responsible, paying family wages with responsible working conditions. 

Now let’s also look at the affect of the use of inordinate amounts of fertilizers used on conventional cotton.  As stated in the earlier essay on the differences between conventional and organic, conventionally grown cotton uses about 26% of the world’s consumption of Fertilizers, while only occupying 3% of the cultivated lands.  If you count all chemicals used on cotton, not just fertilizers, many authorities report up 50% of the chemicals made in the US are applied to Cotton.  Unfortunately most of the fertilizers used, run off with the intense irrigation (conventional cotton uses about 3X more irrigation water than organic cotton) into our river systems and eventually ends up on our oceans.  This outflow of fertilizer is one of the primary contributing factors causing the “Dead Zones” found off the mouths of most of our major rives where cotton is grown.  Read on:   Cotton & Our Oceans.

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