Whether you are a new or an experienced parent, we’re likely all in the same boat of having to make at least one million decisions every single day.
Do I have time to go to the store before nap time?
Which laundry detergent won’t aggravate this rash?
Do I get out of bed before everyone wakes up or sleep just a little longer?
What on Earth will I make for dinner tonight that won’t get rejected by this tiny dictator?
Perhaps you’ve even contemplated the idea of what type of clothing your little creature should be wearing to keep them comfortable and their body safe.
Is organic cotton really better than conventional?
Making this decision is more than just an intentional, mindful purchasing choice that avoids feeding into fast fashion. It also impacts your wee one.
What is fast fashion, you ask?
Fast fashion is essentially the mass-production of trendy styles at the lowest prices possible. What’s wrong with that? I mean, it makes clothing more accessible in some ways, but there are ways to find fashionable clothing without breaking the bank if that’s your goal. Fast fashion is harmful because it is typically outsourced to countries where workers aren’t paid fairly, treated well, or kept safe. Fast fashion uses conventionally grown cotton or cheap synthetic fabrics that are not only harmful to the environment but can also be harmful to that sweet, sensitive baby skin that just so happens to be the largest organ in the body and sucking those chemicals into the bloodstream all day long.
We don’t want to ruin your breakfast with too many gnarly details about how detrimental fast fashion is to the environment, so just read these next few bullet points quickly to minimize the pain. “Just rip the bandaid off,” our parents once told us.
Why should you just say no to fast fashion? According to the UN Environment Programme:
- “Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.”
- “Washing clothes also releases half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year.”
- “Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water globally, and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.”
- “The fashion industry produces 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping.”
Fast fashion is built into our lives at this point. And it creates a vicious cycle of buying cheaply made products, wearing them a few times, and then tossing them out. It creates a cycle where workers are put in unsafe and unfair conditions to produce our clothing. It supports supply chains that are not transparent about their processes, which allows all of this to continue in perpetuity.
Whew! So, back to the topic at hand.
Organic cotton versus conventional.
Some fast fashion brands have felt the pressure of needing to be more on the up-and-up with their business practices, but many don’t have to change anything because people keep spending their money with them. When it comes to purchasing organic cotton versus conventional, the first thing people tend to notice is the price.
If you squawk at the price, that’s ok, but the good news is that organic cotton clothing becomes cheaper as more people demand it. No longer do you have to pay with your arms and your legs to clothe your baby (unless you really want to because, by golly, there are some cute, spendy, ethically-made baby clothes out there).
For today’s argument, we just want to fill you in on some truths about organic versus conventional cotton so that it can stay in your mind as you shop. You don’t have to be perfect because we all know that we carry enough of that perfectionist weight when it comes to being a parent. All you can do is educate yourself, make the best decisions possible within your capacity in any moment, and then be kind to yourself, knowing that you’re doing your best.
Organic Cotton Versus Conventional
So let’s take a look at some real-life stats to prove this argument that organic cotton truly is better than conventional (1).
It takes 48 gallons of water to create a conventional bodysuit versus the 4 gallons of water for its organic counterpart. For one bodysuit. That’s a lot of water!
It requires 1.3 megajoules of energy for conventionally grown cotton and less than 1 megajoule for organic to create one bodysuit. That's the difference between powering 1 home for an entire day vs. 2 whole days.
Now for greenhouse gas emissions (yikes!). A bodysuit that uses conventionally grown cotton creates 154 grams (!) of greenhouse gas emissions while its organic sibling 83 grams of emissions.
Both require energy to grow, to process, to manufacture, to ship, and so on. As one of the most chemically intense crops to grow, conventional cotton requires thousands of tons of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that harm the health of farmers and people within the area, as well as shedding those chemicals into fruits, veggies, and food that people eat, as well as creating runoff into water systems.
No, thank you!
While organic cotton isn’t as popular as conventionally grown cotton, it’s working its way up thanks to the education of people like you and me and other major organizations and businesses who are willing to take a stand against the harm that conventionally-grown cotton can cause. When you choose organic cotton, you’re not only choosing a safer working environment and fair living wages for the people growing and processing the cotton (not to mention a healthier water system, among other benefits), but you’re also choosing the safer clothing option for your tiny human.
We’re all doing the best that we can. Trust your instincts and go easy on yourself!