By far organic cotton is one of the most popular and important organic fiber known to mankind. With growing concern for the environment, there is a much greater push towards the greener lifestyle, which has led to an increase in the consumer demand for naturally grown cotton products. The production in the US increased by about 29 percent in 2010, while global production increased by 23 percent over previous years. The United States only trails Syria, India, Turkey, China and Tanzania in the production of organic cotton. Green cotton is in everything from personal care items, clothes, toys and home décor. Aside from the increased use of organic fibers, there has also been increase in the use of cotton seeds in animal feed and human food products.
Conventional and organic growing methods are quite different. In conventional methods, more chemicals are used per unit area than other crops. Most of these chemicals not only pollute soil, ground water and air, but its residues on cotton fibers also cause various skin irritations and diseases. Green cotton growing methods actually replenish the soil and also maintain a healthy ecological balance. Genetically enhanced seeds are not used to grow green cotton, and as pesticides and toxic fertilizers are also not used, groundwater and soil contamination is also eliminated. Farmers who use organic methods to grow cotton offer purer product to the consumers that also benefits the environment by eliminating all contaminants to the ground water and soil.
* Consumer understanding
The biggest hurdle that most of the growers face is the consumer understanding about various value added costs of purchasing natural cotton products. Additional cost of establishing organic environment in the fields, challenges due to the crop lost to weeds and insects, high labor costs, and growing competition from global markets make US natural cotton products somewhat expensive than non-organic products. However, buyers must realize that long term benefits of using organically grown cotton products far outweigh its high price.
The biggest benefit is to human health. Continuous exposure to toxic fertilizers and pesticides can cause physical ailments such as nauseas, and headaches, with prolonged exposure leading to more serious health issues such as nervous system or hormonal problems, immune or reproductive system issues, and even cancer. Organic cotton is beneficial for our environment as well. The absence of harsh pesticides and chemicals during the production stage can avoid water and soil contamination and can also promote ecological balance. Just for a few extra dollars, organically grown cotton products offer a much better alternative for our heath and the environment.