WHY WE CHOOSE ORGANIC...
Posted on July 16 2019
Last week we had our annual organic inspection. Every year the Soil Association – our certifiers – visit and look through our books, record keeping and warehousing. It’s a long and tiring day – they check our paperwork for every item of stock in and sales of stock out. They check the labelling inside our garments – each garment has an ID tag which can be traced back to specific organic certificates. And, something less well known, they also check staff employment contracts and interview our staff to ensure proper treatment and working conditions. Each of our suppliers, right the way back through our supply chain, undergoes the same process. It’s a lot of work, but it feels like an important and rigorous process.
I first found out about organic cotton when I worked for an environmental charity that was supporting a project in West Africa. I was surprised to learn that non-organic ‘natural’ cotton uses more insecticides than any other crop in the world - approximately 16 percent of the world's insecticides and almost 5% of global pesticides. Not surprisingly this has some really nasty environmental and health problems. In many developing countries, small farmers use these sprays next to their food crops increasing the risk of cross contamination and poisoning. It is widely estimated that there are around 11,000 deaths from pesticides each year (around 60% of which are in India), and millions of non-fatal poisonings.
The Soil Association spells out five clear reasons for choosing organic cotton, and better still, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified products provide assurance that environmental and social checks go right the way through the supply chain. GOTS is the globally accepted standard to which national certifying bodies sign up.
According to the Soil Association, “organic means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife.”
In our view, things in life are rarely black and white – organic cotton has huge advantages but will not be the only solution and will not be right for all farmers. However, when introduced responsibly, with the necessary support structure, it can have huge benefits for the farmers, their families and the environment.
According to the Soil Association, there are five reasons to choose organic cotton and we’re proud to be part of this movement:
Combats climate change
Organic farmers use natural methods to grow cotton, not fossil-fuel based fertilisers. By working with nature, farmers build healthy soils which store carbon and help to combat climate change. Organic cotton emits 46% less greenhouse gas than non-organic.
Saves precious water
Organic cotton uses less water than conventionally produced cotton. Hazardous synthetic pesticides and fertilisers are banned in organic farming, so rivers, lakes and drinking water are kept cleaner too. Organic farming creates healthy soils, which act like a sponge, soaking up water during floods and holding it for longer in times of drought.
Helps farmers feed their families
Organic farmers always grow other crops alongside their cotton. These crops can provide farming families and their communities with a more stable, accessible, abundant and diverse food supply and another source of income.
Gives control to farmers not GM companies
Genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned in organic farming, so farmers are not reliant on a handful of GM companies. Instead, they save their seeds year after year, and work with the environment in a long-term, sustainable way.
Eliminates hazardous synthetic pesticides
Organic farmers use natural methods like crop rotation to control pests and diseases, not chemical cocktails. Hazardous synthetic pesticides used in non-organic farming can damage ecosystems, poison waterways and endanger workers who can’t always afford safety equipment needed to protect them. Conventional cotton alone is responsible for 16% of all insecticides sold worldwide.