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What is Organic Cotton?

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and non-GMO matter, and with an environmentally and socially responsible approach, is deemed Organic – as per National Programme for Organic Production (NPfarm workersopping,

  1. No Harmful chemicals used while growing

  2. Conserves water through rain water harvesting

  3. Preserves soil health through crop rotation, composting

Why do we need Organic Cotton?

“We all believe organic cotton is better for the environment, but how much do we really know, and more importantly, do we care? Here are a few things to consider when facing the decision of whether to buy conventional cotton or go organic.”

Dirtiest Crop on Earth

Conventional cotton has “earned” the title of being the dirtiest crop on earth. It consumes 16% of the world's insecticides and requires $2 Billion in pesticides each year. Pesticides and insecticides used in cotton production contaminate the soil we use to grow crops, the air we breathe and the water we drink. The deaths of animals exposed to these contaminants is counted in the millions every year.

Global consumption of non-organic cotton releases huge amounts of greenhouse gas into our atmosphere, about 220 million tonnes a year. 1 tonne of conventional cotton fiber produces 1.8 tonnes of CO2e. The damage caused to us and the environment by growing non-organic cotton is enormous and is a real threat to us and our planet.

2,700 Liters of Water

This is how much water is used to make one cotton t-shirt. Did your stomach just turn a little? It should.

Although 70% of our planet is covered in water, only 3% is freshwater and just 1/3 of that 3% is available for us to use. 1 billion people don’t have access to freshwater and 2.4 billion people suffer from inadequate sanitation. Millions of people, mostly young children, die each year due to water-borne illnesses caused by inadequate sanitation and lack of water. Yet we still use 10,000 liters of water to process just one single kilo of conventional cotton.

Cancer, anyone?

Global organizations estimate thousands of people exposed to the chemicals used in non-organic cotton production die of cancer, poisoning, and miscarriages each year. Many also suffer from birth defects and other diseases such as asthma. The exposure to these toxic chemicals is taking its toll mostly in developing countries, such as India and Uzbekistan.

Not fair.

About 100 million households are engaged in growing and producing cotton and 300 million people work in the cotton sector as a whole. The majority of cotton farmers and workers live in developing countries, work extremely long hours, are exposed to poisonous substances daily and earning very little in wages. In fact, many of them have unsustainable debts because they are unable to keep up with employer demands. Other factors such as climate change, decreasing prices of cotton and tough competition from farmers in rich countries don’t make it any easier. Sadly, suicide rates among cotton farmers have been high in the last 20 years. In the year of 2013 alone 11,772 farmers committed suicide in India, that’s 44 farmers a day! A rule of thumb- if a cotton product is outrageously cheap, then know that someone else has paid the price.

What Can We Do about it?

Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals, leaving the soil, air and water free from contaminates that cause harm. Organic cotton produces around 46% less CO2e compared to conventional cotton.

It also uses far less water to grow since organic cotton growers typically utilize rain far more than irrigation. On top of all that, organic cotton growers use beneficial insects to control unwanted pests instead of relying on harmful chemicals, thus encouraging biodiversity. It's a win-win for humanity and earth.

It is also known that various skin allergies relate directly to the chemicals used in non-organic cotton farming. Many people with skin problems report a dramatic improvement in their skin condition once they switched to organic.

By choosing to buy organic cotton you are enhancing the health of humans, animals and natural resources around the world.

Supporting organic agriculture is also essential if we want to create improved working conditions for cotton farmers because farming organic cotton is more regulated, and therefore, fairly traded.

Would you really want the “dirtiest crop” next to your and your children's skin? Didn’t think so. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to health issues related to pesticides. When you choose to use organic cotton you spare your kids from the exposure to these harmful substances and ensure a safe and healthy sleeping environment.

So there you have it. Organic cotton is not only better than conventional cotton, it is the future if we are serious about making big changes in the health of our families, our communities, and our planet. Organic cotton? Yes, please!

Why has Organic Cotton not become popular?

(Based on our consumer research)

  1. “It is very expensive

  2. “Unlike organic food, no benefits compared to regular cotton”

  3. Not very durable

How is Organic cotton different from conventional cotton?

The main difference is the usage of synthetic inputs for cotton production. In conventional cotton production, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are used to maximize yield and manage pests, weeds and diseases. However, in organic cotton farming, synthetic inputs are prohibited and instead environmentally and socially sustainable methods of farming – such as crop rotation, intercropping, animal manure, composting etc. – are employed to help preserve the regenerative capacity of the soil and weed off pests and diseases.

How much of the world's cotton is organic?

2019/20 was the record-setting year for organic cotton, with the largest volume of organic cotton fiber harvested globally to date. In total, 229280 farmers grew 249153 tonnes of organic cotton fiber on certified organic land in 21 countries. This represents a 4% growth in fiber volume and is the fourth year in a row that organic cotton production has increased. Organic cotton accounted for almost 1% of the global cotton harvest that season.

Which countries are the top producers of organic cotton?

Organic cotton is grown in roughly 21 countries, of which the production is as follows: India (51%), China (17%), Kyrgyzstan (10%), Turkey (10%), Tajikistan (5%), Tanzania (2%), USA (2%), (Uganda (1%), Greece (.5%), Benin (0.4%), Peru (0.2%), Burkina Faso (0.19%), Pakistan (0.17%), Egypt (0.12%), Ethiopia (0.05%), Brazil (0.04%), Mali (0.03%), Argentina (0.005%), and Thailand (0.003%).

How is organic cotton different from conventional cotton?

The main difference is the usage of synthetic inputs for cotton production. In conventional cotton production, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are used to maximize yield and manage pests, weeds and diseases. However, in organic cotton farming, synthetic inputs are prohibited and instead environmentally and socially sustainable methods of farming – such as crop rotation, inter-cropping, animal manure, composting etc. - are employed to help preserve the regenerative capacity of the soil and weed off pests and diseases.

We Stand For Luxury, Quality and Integrity

Doing the right thing brings us joy.

That’s why we source only 100% organic cotton to create durable and sustainable t-shirts, provide fair treatment for all of our farmers and workers, and donate a portion of profits to charities.

Why Organic Cotton ?

The Classic T-shirt company was founded to shake up the fashion industry by creating ethically made luxury fashion items, starting with a full range of 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton T-shirts for men and women that we couldn't be prouder of.

Why Organic Cotton t - shirts are Good for you & the Earth?

The best deals in life are always win-win. Making ethical buying choices doesn’t have to come at the expense of your convenience. Making ethical choices doesn’t have to strain your finances. In fact, the more efficient the organic cotton industry gets, the more we all benefit from it. The Classic T-shirt company was founded to shake up the fashion industry by creating ethically made luxury fashion items, starting with a full range of Organic Cotton T-shirts for men and women that we couldn't be prouder of.

Does Organic Cotton T - shirts Matter?

Yes, they do.

You are what you eat and you are what you wear, so we encourage you to always #WearYourValues

If you've ever made a switch to organic food for health or environmental concerns, now you can do the same with 100 percent organic cotton T-shirts and for the same reasons.

Wearing the best organic cotton T-shirts is healthier for the environment, the people who make those T-shirts, and the people who wear them. Like organic food, there are various levels of organic certification for clothing. Organic 100 Content standard cotton T-shirts can trace their roots so to speak to organic farms. Classic T-shirts are made with higher standards than that. We are Global Organic Textile Standard Certified (GOTS) which means our T-shirts adhere to the following standards

  • Workers rights are protected

  • Working conditions are safe and hygienic

  • Only low impact inks and dyes are used

  • Wastewater is treated properly

  • Energy and water use is monitored

9 Reasons to Buy Products Made From Organic Cotton

What’s the dirtiest crop on the planet? You may be wearing it.

At a production rate of 25 million tons a year, cotton is one of the top four GMO crops in the world—and nearly 95 percent of that global cotton production is GMO and/or conventionally grown.

Cotton earned the title “dirtiest crop” because it’s sprayed with some of the worst pesticides, including: Bayer’s aldicarb, which was banned in the U.S. in 2010, but reapproved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016; Syngenta’s paraquat, a highly toxic pesticide banned in the European Union but not in the U.S.; and Monsanto’s glyphosate, classified by the World Health Organization as a “probable” human carcinogen.

Those and other toxic chemicals associated with cotton production pollute waterways and damage the health of farmworkers. They also contaminate consumer products.

GMO cotton isn’t just used to make clothes, bedding, towels and other textile products. Cottonseed oil and other cotton crop waste products also end up in hundreds of processed foods.

Consumers should be just as concerned about wearing GMO cotton (or drying off with it or sleeping on it) as they are about ingesting it.

The best way to avoid GMO cotton textiles? Buy certified organic.

Here are nine reasons to choose organic clothing, bedding and other products:

1. Protect the oceans from microfiber pollution

Conventional cotton used for clothing and textiles is usually combined with synthetic fabrics such as acrylic, fleece and polyester. Research shows that during washing, these synthetic fibers are released into our waterways, in the form of microfibers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources estimates that around 1.7 million tons of microfibers enter the ocean each year, threatening marine species and sensitive coral reef ecosystems.

Don’t want to contribute to the problem? Avoid synthetic fabrics altogether, including conventional cotton blends. Instead, choose clothing and textiles made from 100 percent pure and organic cotton.

2. Protect the livelihoods of cotton farmers

In 2002, Monsanto introduced in India a pest-resistant cotton, genetically engineered with a gene from the bacteria Bacillus thurengiensis or Bt. Bt cotton plants produce a toxin that kills the bollworm, one of the crop’s primary pests.

According to Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Monsanto promised that its Bt cotton would reduce the amount of pesticides farmers needed to buy, and increase yields and farm income by reducing crop losses due to pest attacks.

But GMO cotton failed in India. Farmers found that:

  • Bt cotton yields declined

  • Secondary pests emerged, forcing increased pesticide use

  • The price of cotton seed rose

  • Farmers lost the option to buy non-GM cotton seed.

The failure of Bt cotton took a heavy toll on farmers, and was widely blamed for a staggering increase in Indian farmers suicides.

3. Conserve global water and energy resources

It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce enough cotton for a pair of jeans. In fact, the water needs of cotton are so high that cotton production has contributed to the draining of the Aral Sea in Central Asia.

Organic cotton has a much lower environmental footprint. Production of organic cotton takes 71 percent less water and 62 percent less energy than production of conventional GMO cotton.

4. Reduce your exposure to hazardous insecticides and pesticides

Conventionally grown GMO cotton is one of the most toxic crops in the world. It makes up only 2.5 percent of global cropland, and yet it accounts for up to 25 percent of the world’s use of insecticides.

In addition to being responsible for the use of toxic chemicals such as aldicarb and paraquat, GMO cotton is sprayed with large amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was classified as “probably carcinogenic to human,” by the World Health Organization. Glyphosate has been linked to metabolic syndrome, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, cancer and depression.

Organic cotton farmers use only organic-approved fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides from plants, animals and minerals to prevent pests and diseases. This slashes your risk of health issues, while also protecting farmworkers and reducing environmental pollution.

5. Help keep the food supply pesticide-free

According to Rodale Institute, most consumers aren’t aware of the following facts about conventional cotton’s effect on our food:

  • Although cotton is not a food, cottonseed oil is produced for human consumption

  • Cottonseed oil is used to produce Vitamin E

  • Cottonseed oil is the primary ingredient in Crisco

  • Cottonseed meal is fed to animals for dairy and meat production

  • Leftover cotton cellulose fibers that are too short to be spun into textiles are used as food additives

  • Cellulose from cotton fibers is added to a wide range of foods to thicken and stabilize the products

  • Cellulose is used as a filler to extend serving sizes without increasing calories. Humans can’t break down or digest cellulose, so it’s being used to meet the demand for low-calorie, high-fiber foods

  • Cellulose, which is basically a plastic, has migrated into numerous foods including cheese, cream, milk powder, flavored milks, ice cream, sherbet, whey products, processed fruits, cooked vegetables, canned beans, pre-cooked pastas, pre-cooked rice products, vinegars, mustard, soups, cider, salads, yeast, seasonings, sweeteners, soybean products, bakery items, breakfast cereals, including rolled oats, sports drinks and dietetic foods as a non-caloric filler

  • Some brands of pizza cheese consist of cellulose coated cheese granules combined with silicon to aid in melting

Making sure these derivatives come from organic cotton prevents toxic pesticides and herbicides from contaminating the food supply.

6. Reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals used in the cotton manufacturing process

A variety of toxic chemicals are used in the manufacture of conventional cotton clothing, depending on where the garments are made and what characteristics the manufacturer wants to achieve.

For example, “easy care” garments that are marketed as antimicrobial, anti-odor and anti-wrinkle may be saturated in formaldehyde.

Other chemicals used in the production of conventional cotton garments include chlorine bleach, ammonia, heavy metals and phthalates, a known endocrine disruptor.

Azo-aniline dyes are also commonly used. These dyes can cause mild to severe skin irritations, especially where there is friction between your skin and the fabric.

Organic cotton products don’t use any of these chemicals, and use only low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes to get a lasting color.

7. Help provide better working conditions for cotton farmers

The conventional cotton industry has been linked to numerous human rights violations.

In Uzbekistan, Environmental Justice Foundation found widespread environmental and human right abuses in the cotton industry, including state-sponsored forced child labor. One-third of the Uzbekistan population works for the government-owned cotton industry. Workers have no access to protective gear or even a clean source of drinking water.

Buying products made of organic cotton promotes a safer work conditions for cotton farmers, by eliminating workers’ exposure to dangerous chemicals.

8. Support regenerative agriculture

Responsible and sustainable organic cotton production provides a variety of environmental benefits, including reduced soil inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, decreased fertilizer runoff, lower field emissions and less irrigation.

These benefits help promote a healthy ecosystem, including healthy soil, which is a core principle of regenerative agriculture.

9. Increase your peace of mind!

Choosing products made with organic cotton gives you peace of mind by knowing that the items you wear or use are nontoxic to you and the environment, and don’t contribute to human rights violations.

You can also feel good about using your purchasing power to make a difference. By supporting the organic cotton industry, you can influence other brands and manufacturers to consider switching to a more regenerative supply chain.

Believe it or not, cheap T-shirts cost a lot more than luxury T-shirts.

True luxury is everlasting.

And not only do cheap T-shirts cost you a lot, they have a high cost on the world around us. They’re often made with exploitative labor and cotton that’s full of pesticides and grown in a way that’s harsh on the earth.


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