Why Does Wearing Organic Cotton Matter If We Don’t Eat It?

Lynda Fassa

Lynda Fassa, founder and designer of Green Babies

Fifteen years ago when I founded Green Babies, the term “green” was so disassociated from fashion (or anything else for that matter), that people would ask my husband and business partner: “Green Babies, what’s that?” And he’d answer, “It’s an adoption agency for Martian children.” “Oh”..they’d say, slowly nodding and backing away. Sometimes I’d tell them what it really was and they looked equally perplexed. Things have changed, for the much better and brighter, but the question still remains: Why does organic cotton matter?

Green Babies Give Peace a Chance/Orange You Sweet


Conventional cotton takes a much heavier toll than you might know. Consider this:

  • Conventional cotton occupies only 3 percent of the world’s farmland, but uses 25 percent of the world’s chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Cotton is the second most pesticide-laden crop in the world (after coffee) and number one in the United States.
  • Pesticides don’t just land on crops, but make their way into groundwater, which is drinking water for 60 percent of Americans.
  • Cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States—and the second cause of death after accidents.

There just simply is no magic garbage barge taking these neurotoxins off the planet, our planet. We all cringe when we see the wicked witch handing poor Snow White the poisoned apple and yet, if we’re not choosing organic, we are doing the same. Can we really just close our eyes as our land is being bombed with poisons, some developed as chemical weapons during wartime?

Green Babies Spring/Summer 2010 Collection


If you eat potato chips, corn chips, [insert favorite salty snack food here], you’re most likely ingesting conventional cotton. Check that label: Cottonseed oil is right near the top in the list of ingredients, and it’s chances are, it’s not organic cottonseed oil.

If you eat salty snack foods, you’re most likely ingesting conventional cotton.

Conventional cotton and its toxic legacy makes it into our food supply in other ways, too. Hulls from cottonseeds are a common feed for beef cattle, so if you’ve got a hankering for a burger, you’re probably getting more than you bargained for in your own personal ecosystem, as well.

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10 Responses to “Why Does Wearing Organic Cotton Matter If We Don’t Eat It?”

  1. […] Eat It by Jasmin Malik Chua, 01/25/10We all know about the benefits of eating an organic diet, but why wear organic cotton when we’re not stocking our pantries with it? Our sister publication, Ecouterre, asked Lynda […]

  2. cfowle says:

    Lynda rocks!

  3. NicolaL says:

    Hello. I liked your article on wearing organic cotton and agree with everything you say…but, organic cotton clothes don’t cost an ‘extra couple of bucks’ (or pounds, here in the UK); they tend to be extremely expensive and it would be prohibitive for me to clothe myself, my partner and our young son wholly in organic cotton (plus hemp and other natural fibres). Our little boy was in organic cotton for the first 6 months, has a natural mattress in his cot plus organic sheets, all natural body care products, eco nappies, etc – and we buy as much organic food as possible, but there’s no way we can afford a fully organic lifestyle when it comes to clothes, furniture and so on. It’s a shame but the reality is that ordinary families need to pay the bills each month and compromise. We simply don’t have the income to afford the expense, as much as we’d like to be far greener. I like to read articles like yours but I do wish they would recognise the difficulty ‘green’ families on modest incomes have when it comes to organic clothing and other organic choices that involve a huge outlay of cash. Nicola

  4. organicmom says:

    Hi Nicola
    Thank you for your thoughts. I agree it’s a balancing act, and sometimes the greenest options are just not feasible all of the time. I will say, however, that you clearly have made a huge commitment to organic cotton and a healthier world for all by the significant choices you have already made. One day, hopefully by the time your son and my daughters are grown, all cotton will be grown organically. In the meantime, any choices for certified organic anything fortify the organic movement, empower the organic farmer and literally make a cleaner planet. Thanks for all you are doing xoxox lynda

  5. baron_turvey says:

    Hello Lynda, great post. In my own opinion, I would prefer to let my kids wear organic cotton clothes because of the safety concerns. Dyes and resins present in conventional clothing can cause skin irritations or hypersensitivity especially to kids. My son had once experienced it and I don’t want that to happen again. So I decided to buy cotton apparels from this store- http://www.cottonique.com They’re products are comfortable and the price is cheaper compared to other stores. Try to check them out.

  6. psjefferson says:

    Great article. I also can’t afford to get everything organic. I buy a lot used clothing at secondhand stores because babies outgrow things so quickly. Does buying secondhand reduce the amount of chemicals my son would be exposed to if he were the first one to wear the clothes?

    Also, since we’re talking about toxins, I’m disappointed to see two two huge ads for Febreze on this page. That stuff is extremely toxic.

  7. Jasmin Malik Chua says:

    Hi @psjefferson, we have little control over the ads that appear on our site, but trust us, we don’t condone any kind of toxic nastiness in our lives—or our readers’!

  8. nimmity says:

    Loved the article. I wrote a blog piece around this idea a while back (http://www.nimmity.com/2010/02/whats-point-of-organic-cotton.html). What is most important about this conversation to me, is the impact that the conventional cotton industry has on indivuals working in developing nations. Direct impact on their health. We may not be able to always buy organic cotton, but if we do when we can, it still makes the world of difference.

    Thanks for a great article.

  9. bagsful (@bagsful) says:

    Great article – the implications of conventionally-grown cotton for our food chain are rarely mentioned, in comparison to the associated environmental issues.

  10. musama_heppell@hotmail.com says:

    Its a shame that we are now in 2013 and still not all cotton is grown organically. There is so many certified organic cotton clothing at reasonable prices and if you can’t afford it wait for the sales:) make sure they are properly certified for example the soil association, one cert, GOTS….keep the organic spirit:)

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