GOTS Organic Cotton vs. Conventional Cotton- is it really worth it?
Cotton is the most popular fiber for textile and garment construction. Consideration must be given to the process of garment making as we use clothing every day. Below we will outline the process of conventional cotton production and contrast with GOTS Organic cotton production, so you can decide what is best for you!
Cotton is resource intensive, requiring high inputs of water, insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Conventional treatments have been known to be carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors, and cause reproductive issues. GOTS allows only non-toxic insecticides and pesticides, and organic cotton requires 91% less water than conventional cotton. GOTS organic cotton must also be GMO free.
After the cotton is grown and processed with a gin into fibers, the fibers are woven into yarn. This stage of the process requires spinning oils to reduce the friction. Yarn is in turn woven into fabric, requiring sizing chemicals and lubricants to reduce yarn breakage.
Once the fabric is made, it must be treated with detergents and solvents to wash out any remaining residues from the previous steps. Enzymes must be used to wash out the sizing chemicals left in the fabric. Next, the fabric must be bleached to make the dyeing process easier and the fibers more absorbent. GOTS has specific requirements for natural enzymes and bleach vs. conventional synthetic products. Water to wash out these treatments must be properly treated and recycled according to GOTS standards, vs. turning into waste water runoff and contaminating local bodies of water.
To print the garment, plastisol printing is the most common method- using a PVC-based cast that contains phthalates, acrylate or polyurethane. GOTS prohibits these known endocrine disruptors. Dyes also commonly include heavy metals, which GOTS prohibits.
Fabric treatments include crease resistance, antistatic treatments, anti-pilling, and flame retardant treatments to name a few. These treatments commonly use formaldehyde based resins, cationic softeners, waxes, silicones, fluorocarbons, and halogenated, phosphor based materials. Many of these treatments are known to be toxic, carcinogenic, and harmful to human health. GOTS only allows non toxic treatments, which rule out most of the above treatments.
Aside from the chemical and treatment regulations, GOTS imposes social requirements to be registered with GOTS. As 99% of cotton farmers live in the developing world, it is an important consideration as many workers do not have access to protective safety equipment. Combined with a lack in pesticide labeling regulations, pesticide poisoning affects between 1-3% of farmers each year. GOTS employees must have access to occupational health and safety standards, and their employment must be freely chosen. GOTS employers must ensure their workplace is free of harassment and violence, pay a fair living wage, not employ child laborers, and provide equal treatment to migrant workers.
Our goal at Uni Organics is to help provide you with the resources you need to make the decision yourself!
This article was written by Macy, former NICU RN. All our swaddles are GOTS certified, and utilize all the education that NICU RN's get about proper development and getting babies to sleep- including arm pockets to help baby feel secure without breaking out of the swaddle and a zipper for easy midnight diaper changes. Say goodbye to sleepless nights and shop now.