When you think of ethical fashion brands you might think of a high standard of working conditions for seamstresses, good wages and other conditions involving the factories and workers.
But one of the key parts of an ethical and sustainable clothing brand’s supply chain is the fabric the garments are made of.
Here we want to breakdown exactly why organic cotton and organic cotton farming is so important to us here at OMM.
So what is the difference between organic and non-organic cotton?
Cotton comes from the fluffy casing that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant.
Organic cotton is generally defined as cotton grown from non-genetically modified plants, without the use of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers.
Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles.
Non-organic cotton or the ‘traditional’ way of growing cotton is a very pesticide-intensive crop. Although it is only grown on 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, it consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 6.8% of all herbicides used worldwide.
Non-organic cotton from the seeds to the harvesting of the cotton - uses chemicals like insecticides, pesticides and "defoliants", that are heavily relied upon.
These chemicals are of course not good for the farmer’s health but seriously affect the land.
The run-off and over-spray of these pesticides and insecticides effects are farther-reaching and leave the surrounding land barren. Causing a vicious cycle of no possibility of growing crops for consumption without the expensive fertilisers and GMO seeds.
Why is non-organic cotton unethical?
If you have the time we highly recommend watching the film True Cost. It sheds light on human rights issues surrounding ‘traditional’ cotton farming in India.
According to the film, the high demand for cotton has led to the planting of genetically modified cotton, the seeds for which are higher cost due to monopolies by the seed companies. Farmers often go into debt to buy the seeds, leading to terrible outcomes like land loss and even suicide.
Beyond that, the chemicals involved in cotton farming leave marginalised farmers experiencing illnesses, birth defects, and a rapidly escalating cycle of mental and physical disabilities from the toxicity.
Is organic cotton important to ethical fashion consumers?
Simply put - yes. After reading the above, we hope you agree!
A lot of ethical brands and consumers have put emphasis on the final stages of manufacturing, and the conditions in the clothes making factories.
However, the use of organic fibres should be considered when striving for a sustainable and ethical brand.
Does 100% Organic mean fair?
It’s always hard to 100% guarantee anything, including ‘ethical and ‘sustainable’ brands. What we have seen a change in the fashion industry is an increasing demand for transparency and accountability.
Certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (commonly referred to as ‘GOTS’ cotton or fibre) allow consumers to better understand that the fabric they are buying was not only produced using 95% organic materials but also met specific and high standards for limiting chemical processing, and providing fair working conditions and wages.
At OMM our manufacturer Anika in Bangladesh has Fair Trade and GOTS certification, meaning OMM products are organic and support small local farmers in India.
Read more about our ethical & sustainable practices and certifications on our Sustainability Page.