Cotton is often referred to as “the fabric of our lives,” and for good reason. We come in contact with items made from cotton every day. The clothes you wear, the sheets you sleep on, the diapers you put on your baby and even some of the food you eat have been made with cotton. But growing conventional cotton requires the use of enormous amounts of pesticides, which has a huge environmental impact and presents health risks for those working around it. It may cost less to manufacture and buy conventional cotton, but it’s better for the land, the farm workers and your well-being to choose organic whenever possible.
What is Organic Cotton?
According to the Organic Trade Association, organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Methods such as beneficial insect releases, strip cutting of alfalfa and new weeding machinery help reduce the environmental impact of cotton crops. Third-party organizations certify that organic cotton farms use only these approved methods and do not spray toxic chemicals on their crops. In 2004, 6,814 bales of organic cotton were harvested in the United States, which is about 3.2 million pounds. That is compared to this year’s estimate of total U.S. cotton production of 19.2 million bales — over 9 trillion pounds. Globally, it is estimated that 120.5 million bales of cotton will be harvested.
Cotton and the Environment
About 25 percent of the world’s insecticide use and more than 10 percent of the world’s pesticide goes to cotton crops. In 2003, that amounted to about 55 million pounds of pesticides being sprayed on 12.8 million acres of cotton, according to the Organic Trade Association. Some of these chemicals are considered to be the most toxic chemicals in the world. The health risks of pesticide exposure include birth defects, reproductive disorders and weaker immune systems.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/Organic-Cotton-Benefits.aspx#ixzz1I15Js1RI
How ECO is organic cotton?
Before bamboo, soy and coconut fibers, there was organic cotton. Arguably the most popular sustainable fabric available, organic cotton is grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, all of which are used on conventional cotton crops. Organic cotton is used in T-shirts, diapers, sheets and more. But is it truly the better choice? The following can be found at http://life.gaiam.com/article/how-eco-organic-cotton-facts-7-questions
Critics of organic cotton rant about water resources needed to grow it, chemical dyes and the significant carbon footprint created to ship it. Proponents of organic cotton remind us of its reduced or nonexistent chemical usage and the smaller farms where it’s typically grown, and of the GMO (genetically modified organisms) seeds used to grow conventional cotton. We delve into the fact and fiction about organic cotton to give you an honest look at how sustainable this fiber really is.
Considered one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world, conventional cotton uses 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of the world’s insecticides—in the U.S., one-third of a pound of chemicals are needed just to grow enough conventional cotton for a regular T-shirt. “Organic cotton is a solution to the problem of chemical use in conventional cotton,” says Lynda Grose of the Sustainable Cotton Project. Additionally, Grose says growing organic cotton is a great transition crop to convert chemical-intensive fields to a future organic farm, whether it’s for growing food or fabrics. “The ecological goal is to convert fields from chemical controls to biological controls.”
Organic cotton crops are kept healthy with a number of natural methods that help control weeds and pests. According to the Organic Consumers Association’s Clothes for a Change program, these methods include mechanical or hand-weeding, crop rotation, planting several crops together (intercropping), use of mulches, adjusting planting dates and densities of crops, and introducing beneficial predator insects.
By using the sustainable methods farmers have embraced for centuries, modern-day organic cotton farmers are saving money on production and reducing the high health care costs associated with chemical exposure, because those involved in the production of organic cotton, from the farmer and weaver to the seller and consumer, are not exposed to the chemicals used in conventional cotton farming.
2. Water Resources
Many believe that conventional cotton uses much less water than organic cotton, but in fact the opposite may be true. By beginning with healthy soil, organic cotton farmers need not supply intense irrigation for their crops—the plants themselves use water much more efficiently due to the inherent health of their surrounding environment. No matter the crop, water usage varies from field to field and country to country. While organic cotton crops in California may use the same amount of water as conventional cotton, crops in Turkey and India may be an entirely different story. During the transitional phase from a conventional to an organic cotton field, it is commonly reported that organic cotton will require more water, but once the land is certified organic (after two or three years of growing transitional crops), water usage often returns to previously normal levels—sometimes even less!
Pesticides used on conventional cotton crops are well known for seeping into local streams, rivers and even public water supplies. “In 1995, pesticide-contaminated runoff from cotton fields in Alabama killed 240,000 fish,” according to the Organic Consumers Association. “[Fourteen] million people in the U.S. are routinely drinking water contaminated with carcinogenic herbicides and 90 percent of municipal water treatment facilities lack equipment to remove these chemicals.” With these dangerous agricultural by-products in our water, it will take cotton plants more time and effort to absorb the tainted water, in turn requiring more water to speed up the growing process.
Genetically modified cotton crops are more common than most people realize. USDA organic certification prohibits the use of GMO seeds, but conventional cotton grown in the United States, Australia and other countries is often planted with GMO seeds that are scientifically designed to yield more fiber and resist pests. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
There’s a reason that the Department of Agriculture does not allow the use of GMO seeds for organic cotton—they aren’t as successful as they sound on paper. Monsanto, a manufacturer of GMO seeds and pesticides, claims that a study showed its Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium) cotton yields 30 percent more fiber than non-GMO seeds. A little digging quickly proved that Monsanto was a sponsor of this “scientific” study.
“In a recent [independent] study of 100 cotton farms in India, yields of the non-Bt cotton outproduced the genetically modified Bt cotton crop by around 16 percent,” says Michael Lackman, co-founder of Lotus Organics.
“Organic and biological farmers and proponents predict that insects will also become resistant to Bt cotton over time. The best methods work with nature rather than against it, understanding the natural systems and predators that keep problem pests and pathogens in balance,” says Grose. This is just one of the many truly scientific examples of the weakness of GMOs, along with pest and weed adaptations, plus the tainting of organic seeds.
Organic cotton has undoubtedly sounded like the overwhelming choice thus far, but nothing is perfect. India, Turkey, Peru, China and Africa currently grow more organic cotton than the United States does. What does this mean? It means that the next organic cotton T-shirt you buy was likely grown hundreds of thousands of miles away, shipped around the world to be processed, then shipped to a retailer and finally to you. That’s a big carbon footprint for one T-shirt!
All hope is not lost for organic-cotton fans who appreciate local production. States such as Texas, California and New Mexico are continually expanding their organic cotton production. Still, the United States is one of the world’s top conventional cotton producers, making it a vital force in the cotton market and one we should continually influence to embrace organic growth and production.
5. Chemical Dyes
Even if the cotton fibers were grown organically, they can still be unsustainably influenced during production, most notably by chemical dyes. These dyes are often made from “iron, tin, potassium, VOCs [volatile organic compounds] and solvent-based inks containing heavy metals, benzene and organochlorides that require large quantities of water to wash out the dye residues,” according to Lackman.
Certified organic manufacturing facilities will often use low-impact dyes that use clays, vegetables or minerals to create varying shades. Gaiam is one of the many organic cotton brands that are openly committed to using low-impact dyes. Unfortunately, not all organic cotton is dyed using sustainable means—and it is hard to track. There is currently no labeling system for products that are made with low-impact dyes; you simply have to ask each company and retailer individually about their production practices.
There is no way to get around the fact that organic cotton items are anywhere from 10 to 45 percent more expensive than conventional cotton products. But before you put back those stylish organic cotton jeans or absorbent organic cotton bath towels, remember what you are paying for: clean water, fresh air, healthy farmers, fair wages, global economic progression, sweatshop-free production and more.
Conventional cotton prices don’t take into account the impact that its production has on the planet and the many people involved in its manufacture, including sweatshops and global poverty. With organic cotton, you are paying more initially, but that cost is passed not only to the retailer, but to the weavers, seamstresses, pickers and growers who made that item’s production possible. In turn, you are also investing in your own health with a garment that will not off-gas (yup, just like toxic paints) chemicals or dyes that can impact all of your body’s basic systems.
7. Organic Cotton vs. Conventional Cotton: The Bottom Line
The gloves are off, no holds barred. Who is the winner? Neither conventional nor organic cotton is perfect. However, the world of sustainable production is growing more each day, and we are finding newer and simpler ways to create quality goods. The next time you have the choice between conventional or organic cotton, you can choose wisely.
Why Bamboo-Consider bamboo alternatives when purchasing items – despite some ongoing debate about the exploitation of bamboo and associated production processes of bamboo goods, it’s readily renewable, sustainable and still seems to have a lot less environmental impact than chemical-ridden crops, destruction of old growth forests and petroleum-derived materials.
Why use products made with bamboo?
There are so many great reasons to choose bamboo. First, it’s beautiful. The delicate grain of bamboo, whether natural or amber-toned, makes it distinctive, refined, and enjoyable to eat with. Bamboo is extremely durable and can withstand a great deal of use without damage. It’s stronger even than oak, and when laminated, bamboo is nearly as strong as soft steel. Bamboo doesn’t swell or shrink as hardwoods do, and won’t impart food flavors or staining.
Bamboo is not a tree-it’s a grass, and it grows like one. Many species of bamboo can grow two feet or more a day. When it’s harvested, it need not be replanted, because it will grow a new shoot from its extensive root system. So bamboo renews itself readily, unlike hardwood trees, which, once cut, are gone forever. Bamboo is an endlessly renewable resource.
It enhances the environment. Farmed bamboo stabilizes the earth with its roots, preventing erosion. It takes in greenhouse gasses and produces oxygen. In fact 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. It can also provide habitat for birds and animals.
It is extremely versatile. Used in everything from housing, to fiber, to food, bamboo is an extraordinary resource. It provides a long-lasting, non-petroleum based material that has endless applications for use.
Why Soybean Fiber: Soybean protein fiber is a sustainable and botanical textile fiber made from renewable and biodegradable natural resources – the leftover soybean pulp from tofu and soymilk production. Its 16 amino acids are healthy and nutritional for our skin. It is a green textile fiber that possesses the superiorities of many natural and synthesized fibers.
From Soy to Fiber: 1. Proteins are extracted from the leftover materials of tofu or soymilk production. 2. Protein liquids are forced through a device resembling a showerhead, called a spinneret, to make liquid soy. This is called wet-spinning. 3. Liquid soy is solidified to make soybean protein fiber. After protein is extracted from the leftover soybean pulp, it can be used as fertilizer. All substances used in the production of soybean protein fiber are of a harmless nature (thus can be used as fertilizer).
Benefits of Soy: Soybean fiber is a soft, light, and smooth protein fiber. It is smoother than cashmere and has the same moisture absorption as cotton but with a better moisture transmission, making it more comfortable on the skin. It is hydroscopic, air pervious, soft, smooth, dry and has superior warmth retention that’s comparable to wool.
Non-GMO Beans: All soybeans are non-GMO (genetically modified organism) beans. Non-GMO soybeans cannot be treated or exposed to chemical pesticides during storage.
Soy Fiber + Cotton: Combine the benefits of soybean protein fiber to cotton such as luster, moisture-permeability, quick-dry ability and drape while keeping our cost and your price reasonable and affordable. This is so that more parents can join in on the green movement and more babies can benefit from the healthy botanical textile fiber. In addition, soybean fiber is so soft that it needs a longer length fiber to build a structure for the super soft textile.
Reasons to Stop Using Plastic Sandwich/Snack Bags, Disposable Lunch Bags and Shopping Bags
Food for thought: We each spend about $2,350 a year on takeout lunches. That’s a lot of cash, and a lot of trash. Packing your lunch puts the dough back in your pocket and keeps 1.8 million tons of packaging out of landfills. Plus, you’re more likely to make healthier food choices!
Lunch Statistic for One Person – On average, 1 person will use 120 baggies every three months. That number includes packing a sandwich and a snack 5 days a week. If you pack a lunch with two snacks, you use up to 180 bags.
According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the average American makes 2.3 trips to the grocery store each week. Walk away with five to 10 bags each time (not hard to do if you’re feeding a family of four) and that’s between 600 and 1,200 bags per shopper each year. Or 40 billion grocery bags each year!
View a study done by ECO-Lunchbox
Why Organic Cotton is Best
Facts About Plastic Bottles
It’s a hot summer day, and you’re enjoying a nice, cool bottle of water. As you walk through your local park, you reach out and throw your empty bottle into the trash can. So, what are the repercussions of these actions?
Americans buy an estimated 29.8 billion plastic water bottles every year.
Nearly eight out of every 10 bottles will end up in a landfill.
It is estimated that the production of plastics accounts for 4 percent of the energy consumption in the U.S.
HDPE and PET bottles showed the highest recycling rates of any plastic bottles types, at 27.1 and 23.1 percent, respectively.
Less than 1 percent of all plastics is recycled. Therefore, almost all plastics are incinerated or end up in a landfill.
Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for up to six hours.
Recycled plastic bottles can be made into products such as clothing, carpeting, detergent bottles and lumber for outdoor decking.
More than 80 percent of U.S. households have access to a plastics recycling program through curbside or community drop-off centers.
Producing new plastic products from recycled materials uses two-thirds less energy than required to make products from raw (virgin) materials. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is stainless steel better than plastic?
Although the process to make stainless steel requires extractive practices, which overall is not best for the environment, it should be noted that the intensive extractive process is offset by the fact that stainless steel, by its very nature, is 100% recyclable. Therefore, given the lifecycle of s/s products as compared to plastics and compostables (both of which are extremely resource intensive to manufacture in relation to the amount of time they are actually used before being thrown away), it is felt that the intensiveness at the manufacturing stage was far outweighed by the extensive lifecycle and reduced overall environmental impact of our products. Additionally, because of its hygienic quality, stainless steel does not require harsh cleaners or a seal or finish applied to make it safe – adding additional health and environmental benefits to using stainless for food storage and transport.
Why We Should Stop Using Plastic Bottles (PET)
Getting 64 oz of water a day is good for you, but using four disposable bottles to do it? Not so much. Grab a reusable water bottle, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy body and a healthy planet. Not to mention the money you’ll save!
In the United States, 50 billion disposable water bottles are consumed per year. 137 thousand per day. 1585 per second.
Why Wooden Toys
Many educational wooden toys help children to build critical lateral thinking and problem solving skills and improve fine motor skills.
Research also shows that the children appreciate the environment they are in more as a result; instead of using loader, noisier and noise making toys to create an environment of action, of war, emergency and other such play scenarios, the children were found to create the atmosphere and sound effects in their head, and keep the calm and relaxation in the room still. In other words, traditional wooden toys help to keep the child relaxed and quiet, while enjoying themselves and playing in the true child spirit that we all love to see.
Benefits are not just limited to the enjoyment of the toys, the health and safety benefits cannot be ignored. Wooden toys are much safer than plastic toys, with fewer smaller parts, and the parts are more durable, less likely to break or be chewed. Children will always favor putting their favorite things in their mouth, and traditional toys made from natural materials are less toxic than the chemical rich painted plastics and metals that many modern toys are made of. They have no electric parts, and are made tougher, they need no batteries, they do not leak, they do not require electricity, and so are kinder to our planet as well. Well made traditional toys use natural woods and traditional methods to shape and colour the toys, with non toxic paints, and shaped wood that does not splinter easily, or break. High quality woods are hard to damage, but still softer contact than hard metals and tough plastics, making for the ultimate material for toys; low impact bumps and accident, but the durability to last for generations. The lastability of traditional wooden toys is perhaps the biggest and often most misunderstood selling point; whereas the more modern, trend related toys come and go with the trends, and their lifetime as toys is shorter, traditional toys can be passed down to siblings and from generation to generation.