| || |
Not All Equal, Not All Dangerous
Have you been confused why some cotton apparel labels boast of being “organic cotton”? Wasn’t “100 percent cotton” supposed to be the ultimate in cotton standards? How can you can any better than 100 percent? Well, once you know what these labels mean, you’ll get why you should choose organic cotton over 100 percent cotton any day.
So, what do they mean? One hundred percent (100% ) cotton really is 100 percent cotton. But, it also contains pesticides and insecticides and is processed with chemical softeners, as well as bleached or dyed and likely treated with formaldehyde finishes. So, you’ve probably gotten the drift already. It doesn’t sound so good any more! If you are wondering what the heck a “finish” is for cotton, most cotton textile goods receive a chemical treatment. Formaldehyde finishes are great for protecting against wrinkles and stains. But, formaldehyde is very toxic and is absorbed by the skin. Even scarier, it is suspected as a carcinogen and mutagen and may possibly damage the kidneys and cause heritable genetic damage. Eek! The other popular finishing method involves using flame-retardant chemicals for fire resistance…not good and probably not even effective against fire (don’t try to figure it out). Suddenly your favorite t-shirt isn’t so appealing, right? If you are not ready to forgo purchasing conventional cotton goods,remember to wash them at least once before wearing or using them to wash off some of the chemical finish.
Now on to less toxic options. Organic cotton is cotton that was grown on land farmed in accordance with organic standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for more than three years. No chemical pesticides, defoliants, or insecticides were used. Only natural fertilizers, beneficial insects, and crop rotation were used. The cotton was also processed without chemical treatments. That sounds so much better!
There are two other names you may see on your t-shirt label. Transitional cotton is cotton that was grown organically on land farm in accordance with USDA standards for less than three years. Green cotton is cotton that was processed without bleaches, dyes, or chemicals, but it was not necessarily organically grown.