The world's dirtiest crop
Knowledge is key, and once we learn, we cannot say that we don’t know. We learned how cotton is grown, and that its nick name is “the dirtiest crop in the world”.
Cotton is not only the dirtiest crop. It is also, by far, the most used material in the making of textiles (also in ours). But during the learning process we started wondering when cotton grown with a massive use of chemicals became the conventional version. Conventional in the sense that it is the norm, the standard and what we all seem to accept.
How did the unsustainable way become the one we all turned to? Prior to World War II, all cotton was organically grown – as well as +3000 years back in history. But the development and use of chemicals gave higher yield and financial gain. The incentive was and is unfortunately still clear and one-sided. But by using chemicals, the challenges stand in a very long line…
Today, more than 95% of the world’s cotton is grown with such use of chemicals that the soil is excavated from continuous, intensified chemical use and single crop growth on the land. Not to mention that the environmental and human impact is devastating and unsustainable in all aspects. Genetically modified seeds are commonly used but can only be used once.
Being a desert plant, cotton is very thirsty
Being a desert plant, cotton is very thirsty. And grown in places where, when it rains, it pours, the excavated soil cannot absorb the excess water, which means that water filled with chemicals travels in nearby waterways. Excavated soil used for single crop growth lacks micro-organisms and challenges biodiversity severely.
At the social level, the cotton farmer’s income is challenged by the rising chemical prices, but in order to keep the yield level, the farmer is forced to buy more of the needed chemicals each year. Not to mention that the workers in the fields are exposed to and get sick from the intensive use of chemicals.
Meanwhile no harmful chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. Therefore, organic cotton is in every sustainable sense the only right choice. The soil is much less excavated and can be grown alongside other crops, enabling crop rotation to the benefit of biodiversity. Water pollution, also in the nearby waterways, is minimized, and the soil is able to absorb the water. The farmer is not financially trapped in the rising costs of chemicals, and the workers are not exposed to hazardous chemicals. Additionally, organic cotton is grown without any use of GMO seeds.
Choosing organic cotton is the most sustainable and from a triple bottom line perspective (people, profit, planet) the only right choice as opposed to the chemically grown version. Therefore, our first goal was to only use organic cotton. We achieved this goal in the spring of 2022.
To be continued…