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Conventional cotton and it’s environmental impact

So, as I’m writing this I’m perched on a glorious peak at the height of the most breath-taking views. Taking in the glistening Ocean in the distant horizon, I think to myself ‘What a truly beautiful and impressive planet we live on.’

It’s important to take time to stop, think and appreciate our surroundings. It makes me realise how blessed we are. And how we should all make a conscious effort to respect and preserve our natural world. If you think about the direction we’re heading with climate change, and deforestation it’s a very sad thought. Soon, there will be fewer views like this to appreciate.

We all make mistakes

Before joining TOTM (5 years ago) I was guilty of overlooking the environmental factor of the products I used. The more I learned about the importance of being eco-friendly, the more it became a passion of mine. When I started at TOTM, I was alarmed to hear how conventional period care products were damaging the environment. It led me to discover more about the conventional cotton industry as a whole – and I was shocked!

Conventional cotton is not eco-friendly

Without going into much detail of conventional period care and the list of ingredients they contain, I just want to focus on the use of conventional cotton. It’s just cotton, there’s no harm in that, right?

Well, unfortunately, conventional cotton is not good for our planet, or for mankind as a whole. For a start, it’s estimated that 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow conventional cotton. This explains why cotton is often labeled a ‘dirty crop.’ These chemicals can cause health complications for cotton farmers. The World Health Organisation estimated that 20,000 of deaths a year are caused by pesticide poisoning in developing countries.  In addition to these farmer deaths, conventional cotton can also have serious health implications for humans and animals who have no direct contact with crops. Pesticides residue drains off crops and runs into rivers. This goes on to pollute lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Local developments and animals who depend on these water sources can suffer the effects of pesticide poisoning.

The chemicals seep into the water system poisoning the waterways for fish and other water-dwelling creatures. But it’s not only these living beings who suffer. Pesticides used on conventional cotton also impacts organisms in the soil, and migratory species such as insects, birds, and mammals.

Water and waste

In addition to being harmful to both people and wildlife, conventional cotton is extremely wasteful. Especially with the excessive use of water required to produce conventional cotton. It takes 7,000 to 29,000 litres of water for each kilogram of cotton produced. A shocking example of this water wastage is the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan. What used to be the world’s 4th largest lake has now dramatically decreased over the years. Leading to the extinction of 20 specifies of fish.

When you read statistics such as these, you can see the shocking and sinister side of the conventional cotton industry.

Organic is the way forward

Organic cotton is a safer, and more sustainable material than conventional cotton. Organically farmed cotton uses different methods than conventional cotton. It’s farmed with fewer pesticides, which helps maintain the fertility of the soil, and doesn’t poison or deplete water supplies. In fact, it uses less water and builds biologically diverse agriculture and improves soil quality.

This means that when you use organic cotton it is not only kinder to YOU but also kinder to our PLANET.

Let’s all make a conscious effort

If we all make the effort to be conscious, informed consumers then we can have a positive impact on our planet, for a change! I’m sorry if I sound preachy, but I’m passionate about sustainability and protecting the well-being of our planet. We must respect it or we risk losing everything. There are times when everyone can be guilty of thinking ‘it won’t affect me.’  Truth is, it will and even a slight change can have a significant difference.

Has this blog made you think? Don’t feel bad if you have not considered this before, this information is not broadcast often enough or widely enough. If you think it’s time for a change, then now’s a perfect time. The Soil Association’s Organic September initiative is happening right now! It gives you a chance to learn more about ‘going organic’.  As an organic brand, we’re passionate about all things organic too! Find out more here.

Written by TOTM Head of Customer Relations, Brooke Allan

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