So what makes organic cotton different?
Compared to normal cotton, organic cotton can be more expensive but uses less water and crucially no synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. Plus it is feels softer and can be more durable to the way the cotton is harvested.
Why is Organic Cotton Better For Us?
1. Organic Cotton Can Be Softer to the Touch
Organic cotton can be softer to the touch because in some cases it is hand picked (such as in Turkey). This is different to regular cotton which is usually harvested by machines which can damage the fibres. Even when organic cotton is mechanically harvested, no chemicals are used, which also explains the softness of the finished fabric.
2. Organic Cotton Uses Less Water
Less water is needed to grow organic crops. This is largely because the soil is healthier, thanks again to the lack of chemicals being used. Healthier soils can generally hold more water, which means less is needed to grow the cotton crops.
DID YOU KNOW: an entire lake dried up between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan largely due to irrigation to intensively grow cotton? It is slowly returning, but it is remembered as one of the worst ecological disasters in history.
3. Organic Cotton Uses No Synthetic Pesticides or Insecticides
Organic cotton is chemical free cotton. This leads to healthier, more absorbent soils. It also means no chemicals are running off onto the surrounding environment, reducing soil erosion and pollution.
4. Organic Cotton Uses No Synthetic Fertilisers
Another environmental benefit of using organic cotton is that no synthetic fertilisers are used. Not only can synthetic fertilisers damage soils and strip them of their nutrients over time, they can also run off into waterways and cause algal blooms and a process called eutrophication.
These fertilisers are also resource-intensive to produce and contribute towards green house gas emissions. This isn't the case when producing organic cotton.
5. Organic Cotton is More Breathable
Can you smell that? Well, with organic cotton you're less likely to stink compared to synthetic materials. This is because organic cotton is naturally moisture-wicking and is more breathable due to its natural fibres which allow air to pass through and sweat to evaporate.
6. Organic Cotton Can Be More Durable
It tends to be the case that organic cotton is more durable than regular cotton. This could be because organic cotton was handpicked, meaning that fibres remain undamaged and longer which creates more durable clothing.
But it is also because using no chemicals means the strength of the natural fibres is preserved. In the long run, organic cotton garments can last longer which could you mean you have to buy less clothing over a longer period of time. So the extra expense may be worth it.
7. Organic Cotton is Hypoallergenic.
Organic cotton is naturally hypoallergenic, largely due to the lack of chemicals used in the process of growing and dyeing the garments. It's softness next to skin is also good for allergy sufferers.
Clothes can contain all sorts of chemicals in the growing and manufacturing process which have been linked to conditions such as autoimmune disease, infertility and eczema. Award-winning journalist Alden Wicker has just released a new book called 'To Dye For' which exposes just what is hiding away in our garments.
8. Organic Cotton is Better for Cotton Farmers
Organic cotton farming is ultimately better for the farmers because they are not exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Acute effects of pesticides can range from headaches to convulsions and even death. Chemicals from pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers can accumulate in the body over a longer period to cause all kinds of damage, affecting memory and concentration and can also lead to cancer. More detail can be found in Pesticide Action Network's 'A Review of Pesticide Use in Global Cotton Production.'
Farming organic cotton can be a more labour intensive task though, especially if it is hard picked.
9. Organic Cotton can Prevent Microfibre Shed
Lots of modern-day cotton clothing is made with some kind of synthetic fibre or material. But 100% organic cotton garments mean that there is no blend of the cotton or plastic materials which means no microplastic shedding in the wash.
10. Certified Organic Cotton Means Better Transparency
You have to be wary when buying organic cotton to check that it actually IS organic. There are some organic cotton terms to look out for which have certain criteria and regulations to ensure the cotton is grown organically.
You can also look for Fairtrade Cotton.
Certified organic cotton allows for more transparency because the whole farming and manufacturing process has to be regulated and inspected. This means it is less likely that you are buying products that have been made in poor working conditions or ways that damage the environment.
Benefits of Organic Cotton Activewear
Comfort For All Activities and Needs
When you put all the benefits of organic cotton together, it can make for really high quality clothing including activewear.
The sweat-wicking, breathable, soft and durable qualities of organic cotton mean that they can handle all kinds of sports and activities from yoga to running or even just staying cool around the house in hot weather.
Sometimes plastic-based sportswear can be get uncomfortable, itchy and far too hot during exercise. Organic cotton is usually softer and kinder on the skin, so it should alleviate any discomfort from a heavy workout.
End of Life
All activewear wears out in the end. Unlike synthetic sportswear, organic cotton leggings or tops are more easily biodegradable. Grown without chemicals, dyed naturally, these clothes will also not leach chemicals into landfills when they are eventually thrown away.
Crucially pure, organic cotton can be recycled. It can be broken down into its original form and turned into something new.
There's no need to compromise on fit, colour of style, you can find organic activewear at affordable prices when you hunt down end of season sales.