In recent years, sustainability has been a significant focus of those who are trying to do their part for the environment. More and more people are reducing their plastic usage, recycling, and saying goodbye to single-use plastic bags.
Then there are those who start looking at the materials they are using, such as cotton. How sustainable is cotton? Is it better to use than human-made fibres such as polyester? Read on to find out.
There is a significant demand for textiles in the world, and cotton is the most in-demand for many reasons. It’s sustainable, biodegradable, renewable, and environmentally-friendly. What’s more, it keeps this status throughout its lifecycle, unlike petrol-based fibres which often come from non-renewable sources.
Contrary to popular belief, cotton also doesn’t require a considerable amount of pesticides to grow. In each acre of cotton, around half a kilo of insecticides is used, and about one kilo of herbicides. As technology improves, the volume of herbicides and insecticides may drop.
Some people are fearful that cotton contains toxin residue both in its raw fibre stage and as clothing, but that’s not the case. Cotton is regulated as a food crop, which means there are tight restrictions around its raw and finished form. Global studies consistently show that there is no pesticide residue to worry about on this fabric. You couldn’t say the same about other human-made fibres, however.
When it comes to sustainability, there is a general concern that crops such as cotton require a considerable volume of our precious water supply. However, cotton is a drought and heat-tolerant plant. It uses and needs less water than most other purposeful crops. Cotton crops today also use far less water than they did even 25 years ago thanks to advanced irrigation systems.
If you are passionate about sustainability and eco-friendly products, then you may try and source as much organic clothing as possible. Fortunately, some cotton fits into this category. Some cotton producers abide by strict organic standards to produce organic, USDA-certified cotton that can offer peace of mind to the wearer. Look out for the label to know if your new cotton garment is organic or not.
Cotton is a desirable product for many reasons relating to the environment, and it’s only getting more so. Innovative technology has seen cotton grow in leaps and bounds with insect resistance, drought resistance, and improved yield to grow more cotton in a smaller area. In the future, this may bring its price down.
Some farmers even focus on conservative tillage practices to ensure they plough less and create limited soil disturbance. With such advancements, CO2 emissions have also improved by as much as the removal of nearly 30,000 cars off the road.
If you are trying to make changes in your life, that amount to sustainability, then cotton products are an excellent place to start. Say goodbye to polyester and other human-made materials, and hello to an entirely biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable resource that can be transformed into some beautiful and affordable garments.