The more we demand organic cotton, the more producers will adapt to such demands, which are, unfortunately, not as widespread as they need to be. Traditional cotton consumption is so important because, in choosing materials derived from organic farming, we are helping to take action for the protection of the environment.
Indeed, the intensive exploitation of conventional cotton agriculture over the decades has been more than alarming. This practice represents 2.5% of the world’s agricultural lands and consumes 25% of all pesticides sold in the world (source: WHO). These pesticides are classified as dangerous and many contain substances prohibited by the WHO (World Health Organization). Each year, 1 million people are contaminated and 22 000 people die because of this pesticide culture (source: WHO). In addition, the use of pesticides and fertilisers account for almost half of the costs involved in the production of traditional cotton (Source: International Cotton Advisory Committee). These pesticides are used to control insect pests deemed likely to destroy plantations and the fertilisers are applied to improve the yields of soils. Farmers are pushed into debt by the need to buy pesticides, which are growing increasingly powerful as the pests they target develop resistance. Moreover, the artificial irrigation required by conventional cotton production reduces the global resources of drinking water. For example, it takes approximately 5,263 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton (source : CNRS). Around the Aral Sea (Central Asia), which has shrunk by close to 50% over the last fifty years, the cultivation of cotton has disrupted the ecosystems of vast regions, perhaps irreversibly. Now, the water of the Aral Sea is polluted by fertilisers and pesticides and is too salty for aquatic life. The surrounding cultivated areas are becoming contaminated, too (Source : UNESCO).
Today, most of our clothes are manufactured from cotton. What could be more natural? However, relatively few people understand the production conditions and their consequences on growers and the environment. In the 1950s, the use of about a dozen pesticide treatments per year has today increased to 30 or 40 in some areas. The consequences are serious for the producers, the environment and consumers. Fatal poisoning, malformations at birth, cancers, eczema, allergies, the pollution of groundwater and, indirectly, the livestock, the destruction of water resources, increased soil salinity and a decline in soil fertility constitute the terrible harvest reaped by intensive cultivation.
In addition, traditional cotton harvesting is accomplished by using cheap labour, including children. The threat of contamination continues after the harvest, in the treatment of plants which are loaded with chemicals and heavy metals harmful to the environment and those who handle them.
For all these reasons, it is clear that the use of organic cotton is essential for all our homes. Hemp and flax are also very beautiful alternatives.
For thousands of years, hemp has been used as material by man. It is an environmentally friendly material, since it requires no chemical additives to help the growth of the plant. Hemp defends itself from external aggressors such as insects and fungi. It is rot-proof. Producers do not need to use fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides or fungicides to protect the harvest, as it’s perfectly capable of taking care of itself! As a renewable raw material, hemp assists in countering the effects of pollution and improves the condition of the soil. After the crop is harvested, a clean field is left behind that is rich in mineral elements. It even makes our air more breathable for us because, during growth, it assimilates much CO2. The good quality of diffusion of air through hemp products provides an automatic adjustment of moisture without heat loss.
Ecological excellence ! A genuine carbon sink. A hectare of flax holds 3.7 tonnes of CO2 per year. It is a benefactor to soil quality, biodiversity and landscapes. It also ensures crop rotation by returning to the same plot every 6 years, benefitting the following crops. With sufficient rain, it requires little watering and very little fertiliser. Thus, ecosystems are respected. France cultivates nearly 200 ha organically and the GOTS label is a guarantee. Terre de lin, commited cooperative.