Organic cotton is something that I first learnt about when writing for a baby clothes company and even before I started wearing sustainable fashion, I was interested in why I should choose organic cotton for baby and children’s clothes.
I think that it is a much more sustainable choice than conventional cotton, mainly because it is grown without the use of environmentally damaging pesticides but also because with organic cotton the soil fertility is maintained naturally and locks C02 into the soil helping to combat global warming. It also avoids using energy intensive fossil-fuel based fertilisers which cause greenhouse gas emissions.
When you put on a piece of conventional cotton clothing or dry your face on a fluffy cotton towel, it is hard to imagine that cotton farming is responsible for one quarter of all the world’s insecticides and 10% of pesticides, some really toxic chemicals which are poisoning wildlife and rivers, as well as killing an estimated 16,000 people each year. Organic cotton is better for the health of farmers and gives them a sustainable living helping to alleviate poverty; you can also be sure that organic cotton clothes have been manufactured according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
But even for those who don’t worry too much about environmental concerns, organic cotton has some very real benefits especially when it comes to baby and children’s clothes.
First up, it is a natural fibre which is breathable and feels good against the skin. My children don’t like wearing synthetic clothes much as they get too hot. Organic cotton children’s clothes tend to be high quality and well-made, meaning that despite very active children and lots of washing they last well and can be passed on down the family.
Jo Nilsson, head of Marketing at Polarn O. Pyret agrees with this sentiment. “Great kid’s clothing should be defined as clothing that your child feels comfortable in; clothes that can handle a child’s playtime activities and clothes that are durable – it has to be defined by more than just the print, colour, styling, patterns or brand”. “We are trying to learn and grow with eco-concerned parents and other consumers – that is why over 30% of our selection is organically sourced, and our classic stripes selection which represents the ethos of our company is entirely organic too”.
Elaborately designed conventional clothes could contain a variety of chemical residues including pesticides, fire retardants, formaldehyde and toxic dyestuffs that may cause allergies and respiratory problems.
With organic clothes there are no chemicals at all. I know that my children are probably exposed to a variety of different chemicals everyday but this is one way that I think I can reduce their exposure.
There is a really interesting post on Feelgood Style which asks Organic Cotton: are you willing to pay more? I am definitely prepared to pay a little more for organic cotton especially for children’s clothes; I would love to know what you think?