Why you should wear organic cotton and fair trade.
Whether it is your favourite pair of M&S cotton granny pants or a pair of jeans you can't live without we all have vast amount of the product in our wardrobes - 40% of our clothing is made from it. This is big business on a massive scale - cotton is often referred to as "white gold" and once you start looking at the statistics the case for choosing organic is clear.
22% of the worlds insecticides and 10% of the worlds pesticides are used for cotton production each year - that is a massive amount when you think that this is just one crop! Within these pesticides are a huge number of chemicals which are harmful to the environment, to the farmers and garment workers and even to the end consumer - you. According to the WHO 1,000,000 agricultural workers are admitted to hospital every year with pesticide poisoning and as you would expect developing countries are worst hit with an estimated 99% of pesticide-induced deaths. The inconsistently policed waste process means that these chemicals do find their way into water systems and as a result pesticide residues in have been found in livestock and wild birds in cotton producing countries. Not only this but scientists have also discovered that carcinogen containing chemical residues from pesticides can be detected on ready for sale clothes - and with our skin being our biggest organ that has to be a worry.
Children in cotton producing areas are particularly vulnerable to pesticide poisoning both due to their participation in production or even just from playing in fields and rivers in proximity to cotton production. This brings us to the next startling fact that yes, children may well have picked the cotton that has been used to make your t-shirt and they may have been forced to do it. According to the EJF 7 of the top 8 cotton producers in the world have been documented as having widespread child labour in their production. In Uzbekistan up to 200,000 children are estimated to work in the cotton fields - the majority of the cotton they pick ends up in Bangladesh where it is turned into cheap cotton fast fashion items available on any high street. They are forced to work and if they don't meet their daily quota are punished through beating. Anyone who watched 12 Years A Slave will have watched this very practise on the screens and no doubt been shocked at what happened all those years ago - yet it still happens to this day in certain regions of the world. Maybe we haven't come as far as we think.
Water of Life
Cotton production uses a terrifyingly large amount of water. EJF has stated that making just one cotton T-shirt takes about 2,720 litres of water which is the equivalent of what one person might drink over three years! When you consider that in the developing world 1.1billion people don't have access to save drinking water there seems to be a massive inconsistency here. Organic cotton uses less than non organic, so has to be a preference.
Buying fair trade and organic cotton means that the farmers and workers are not using the harmful chemicals but also that they are setting a fair price for the cotton, and are therefore paid better which can alleviate the need for child labour in the first place.
There are many brands that produce beautiful organic cotton pieces - it is a bit like choosing organic food or beauty products - they genuinely feel better for you - Kowtow's jersey separates are so soft and kind to your skin, not to mention the way they are cut makes them flow and hang elegantly. Bhalo's sugary sweet summer pieces are handloomed in Bangladesh in a fair trade set up that provides schooling for the workers children - their pieces have been some of our most popular thanks to their eye- catching colours and feminine shapes. And Anne Gorke's amazing organic pieces add a luxe option that look as good as they feel.
So join the Organic revolution and try some of our Kotow pieces at great sale prices this week. Basic every-day vests that will become wardrobe staples at £17 or my personal favourite swing T that looks chic with just about anything for just £25 - honestly finding it hard to take off recently! There really has never been a better time to detox your wardrobe.