Not too long ago, people who bought organic food were considered to be on the fringes of mainstream society. Aside from small pockets of farmers and hippie bank-to-the-landers, most people just didn’t think too much about where their food came from or what might be sprayed on it.
These days, the general public is very aware that buying organic means you’re getting a healthier product and causing less harm to our environment. Almost every grocery store has fresh, organic produce and packaged organic foods in the aisle. There are entire stores and restaurants devoted to offering only the healthiest foods.
Chemical-free household cleaners are now becoming the norm as well, and most of the major traditional brands even have a “green” version. It only makes sense that we’re going to be healthier if we aren’t spraying chemicals directly on our counters or mopping our floors with them.
But what about organic clothes? Does buying organic cotton really make a difference?
The sad truth is, non-organic cotton crops use more insecticides than any other crop in the world. In most countries, cotton is still hand-picked, which puts all those exposed workers at risk of becoming ill. The water supply of the town or village can also become contaminated, which affects everyone who lives there.
According to the World Health Organization, up to 20,000 people die each year from pesticide poisoning in developing countries. And in the US, more than 10,000 farmers die each year from cancers related to these chemicals.
When we buy clothing made of conventional cotton, we are contributing to the problem. And shockingly, less than one percent of all cotton grown is organic.
Non-organic cotton can have negative effects on our own health as well. Some people can develop skin rashes and even headaches and dizziness from the toxic residue in the clothing.
As we become more and more aware of the negative impacts we are having on the environment, it’s important for us to think about these factors when it comes to our decisions as a consumer:
- Is this product good for my family?
- Is it good for the people who made the product?
- Is it good for the environment?
The high cost of cheap
It’s true that conventional cotton clothing is cheaper. Just like a fast-food cheeseburger is cheaper than one made of organic beef, or a plastic baby toy from the dollar store is cheaper than a hand-crafted wooden toy.
Many of us are struggling financially, and some people think that organic is fine for people who have the luxury of affording it. But there are different ways of thinking about this. We live in a society where people often have closets full of cheap clothes and shoes. What if, instead of having five cheap, non-organic sweaters that won’t last, we have one or two excellent-quality sweaters that were hand-knit with organic cotton and will last for years?
Better for the workers, better for the environment, and better for us.:)