Organic Cotton FAQs

  1. What is cotton?
  2. What is organic cotton?
  3. How is organic cotton made?
  4. Organic cotton production
  5. Is organic cotton worth the extra?
  6. Why is organic cotton better than normal cotton?
  7. Does organic cotton feel different?
  8. Does organic cotton matter?
  9. How is organic cotton sustainable?
  10. Why is organic cotton better for the environment?
  11. Is organic cotton breathable?
  12. How to wash organic cotton?
  13. Does organic cotton shrink in the wash?

What is cotton?

Cotton is a natural fibre and comes from a shrub plant (Gossypium), native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Today it is cultivated mostly in the Americas (particularly Mexico), Africa, Egypt and India. The cotton is the soft, fluffy, hairy staple fibre from the cotton ball, which protects the seed as it is growing and emerges once the seeds have matured. The fibre produced is almost pure cellulose.

What is organic cotton?

Organic cotton is grown and processed using methods that have a low impact on the environment. It is a crop farmed without the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and no harsh chemicals or finishes are used during its production into a fabric or end product.

Growing conventional cotton is highly chemical-intense. These chemicals are among the most toxic chemicals as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

We tend to forget that what we wear started in the soil. If you want to make sure what you buy is grown in a truly sustainable way, certified organic cotton is the best option. Third party certifications verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production.

How is organic cotton made?

Organic cotton comes from non GM (Genetically Modified)seeds and is grown without use of pesticides or other harmful chemicals, preserving the soil health with its nutrients.

Regular cotton comes from GM seeds and grown with heavy use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers and with little rotation of crops, thus slowly removing nutrients and needing more water.

The Textile Exchange research showed that organic cotton creates 46% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cotton, simply by not using nitrous dioxide-releasing fertilisers and pesticides, and using fewer mechanised farming practices.

Organic cotton production

 

Foxology founder, Dawn Foxall: Searching for the best organic and fair trade cotton, led me back to SEKEM in Egypt where I visited several times 6 years ago, when developing cotton products for an organic skincare company.

 

Foxology founder, Dawn Foxall: "Searching for the best organic and fair trade cotton, led me back to SEKEM in Egypt where I visited several times 6 years ago, when developing cotton products for an organic skincare company."

1. Planting and growing

To keep the soil healthy and productive, natural compost, crop rotations and cover crops are some methods used to replace synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

2. Harvesting

Organic cotton is usually hand-picked, so no use of machinery or chemicals, or production of waste.

3. Manufacturing

Ginning, cleaning, spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, cutting and assembly, finishing processes.

When Organic cotton enters a ginner, spinner or manufacturer, it will be kept separate from regular cotton and all machinery cleaned down prior to processing. This keeps the integrity of the organic status and enables the end producer to certify the cotton as organic under international standards such as GOTS(Global Organic Textile Standard).

At each stage of production, organic clothing manufacturers use only natural alternatives, following international standards(GOTS), to reduce and eliminate the toxic consequences found in conventional cotton fabric manufacturing.

Is organic cotton worth the extra?

Your cotton item is absolutely worth being organic!

The harvesting of organic cotton is done by handpicking, preserving the length and stretch of the fibre and producing a more durable garment. Non-organic cotton is machine picked, damaging cotton fibres in the process.

The processing of organic cotton is chemical free, this alone is kinder to the skin, preventing allergic reactions. The skin is known to absorb what is put directly onto it. Medicines can be absorbed through the skin (think nicotine patches!). It therefore means that the chemicals used in manufacturing fabrics that you wear next to your skin, can be absorbed into your body.

The fibre and fabric have not gone through extensive chemical processing or fixing, which means it has not been damaged and will last longer.

Organic cotton has not been stripped from its natural wax content, the final cloth is softer and drapes well.

The drawbacks are minimal, and are mostly for the manufacturer rather than the final user of a garment. It is more expensive than regular cotton, but it will certainly not break the bank!

Why is organic cotton better than normal cotton?

There are many impactful reasons to buy organic cotton:

Human welfare: Organic cotton is produced without chemicals, which is kinder to the skin and does not harm the farmers health.

Environmental: Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse ecosystems. Choosing organic cotton encourages organic farmers and motivates conventional farmers to switch to organic agriculture.

This leads to a healthier planet overall.

Higher quality products: Organic cotton growers hand-pick the cotton, so it remains pure.

The whole process of growing and producing organic cotton retains the strength of the cotton fibre, where conventional harvesting and processing weakens it with chemical cleansers and dyes.

Does organic cotton feel different?

Organic cotton is super soft and gets softer with every wash. As there has been no chemicals used throughout the processing. It is hypoallergenic and is stronger and more durable than regular cotton, so will have your favourite garment for longer!

Does organic cotton matter?

YES! Is the answer!

The most important benefit of organic cotton agriculture and production is that it protects the ecosystem, reducing water wastage and energy and ensuring a safer working environment for the farmers and manufacturers. Organic cotton is a sustainable and eco-friendly option to regular cotton.

GOTS (global organic textile standard) certifications ensure sustainable and ethical textile production.

100% organic cotton is biodegradable and recyclable.

How is organic cotton sustainable?

Organic cotton is made from non-genetically modified (GM) seeds that are grown without the use of any agricultural chemicals, such as fertilisers and pesticides. This makes it better for the environment, the climate and the health of the people involved.

Without the use of pesticides, beneficial insects remain in the ecosystem, biodiversity is conserved, soil is healthy and water is safe from chemicals.

Why is organic cotton better for the environment?

The main benefit of organic materials is that the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. These toxins are harmful for farmers and workers, consumers, and entire wildlife ecosystems.

Without the use of pesticides, beneficial insects remain in the ecosystem, biodiversity is conserved and soil is healthy, as well as any water is safe from chemicals.

Is organic cotton breathable?

Organic cotton is pesticide free and feels softer and is more breathable and luxurious against the skin. It is a highly durable fabric and does not cause static electricity, nor will it pill over time.

How to wash organic cotton?

  • It is advised to use cold/gentle wash or maximum 30 degrees water temperature.
  • Always wash as per label instructions.
  • Wash inside out and with similar colours, reshape while damp and preferable air dry or tumble dry at low heat.
  • Regular washing detergent will have chemical whiteners/bleaches, which will whiten your organic cotton item.
  • You should try to switch to eco-friendly washing detergent to not only lessen the integrity of the organic status of your item, but also protect the environment.

For more info on caring for your Foxology organic cotton products,

Go to: PRODUCT CARE https://www.foxologyclothing.com/pages/product-care

Does organic cotton shrink in the wash?

100% organic cotton may shrink slightly with washing, because it is not chemically treated to reduce the shrinkage effects of heat. This shrinkage is built into the size of the product, so can sometimes be noticeable after washing.
If you wash and tumble dry on a high heat, it is possible for up to 10% shrinkage. You can notice it more in the length of the garment and less for widths.

As with any fabric, always wash as per label instructions, but organic cotton, in general, should be washed in cold or warm water with a delicate/eco-friendly detergent and line dried.


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