Organic Cotton vs. Conventional Cotton
Cotton is obtained from a natural source, but based on the ways of manufacturing it, there are two types of cotton – organic and conventional. If we are asked to differentiate between them the first thing (and possibly the only thing) that comes to our mind is the price. Organic cotton is costlier than conventional ones, which is why we tend to choose the latter. If you want to know how the two are different from each other, this post will help.
The Key Differences Between Organic and Conventional Cotton
Organic and conventional cotton isn’t the same. Keep reading to discover their differences.
1. Cotton Seeds
The process of growing and harvesting both types of cotton starts with the seeds. Organic cotton is grown from seeds that don’t undergo any genetic modification and remain untreated in any way. Conventional cotton seeds are treated with insecticides and fungicides and are nearly always genetically modified. This is done to ensure these crops yield more cotton, as they are immune to various plant diseases. But this creates a dependency on those chemicals for the crops to grow faster and in larger volumes.
In conventional cotton production, farmers use synthetic fertilizers as the crop is grown on the same soil. This often results in an immense loss of natural nutrients present in the soil and increases the need for intensive irrigation. A kilogram of conventional cotton requires anywhere between 2,600 to 5,500 gallons of water. Organic cotton, by contrast, requires 71% less water and doesn’t harm the soil since no harmful chemicals are used to produce it. This is possible as crop rotation allows the soil to retain more water.
3. Pest Control
By not using unhealthy pesticides, organic farmers can maintain a balance between natural predators and pests on their soil. This allows them to use biological culture practices and beneficial insects to control pests on their crops. Conventional cotton farming on the other hand involves heavy usage of insecticides to ensure pests are destroyed and the crops yield more cotton. These pesticides contain toxic chemicals. Additionally, they are often sprayed aerially, which increases the likelihood of the spray drifting into neighbouring communities.
4. Effects on Land and Farmers
Conventional cotton growth on the same soil deteriorates its quality. It can take away many of the natural nutrients present in the soil which leads to the harvesting of unhealthy crops. Because of this, the cotton is sprayed with pesticides to increase crop yield. In the process, farmers are often exposed to harmful chemicals, with many needing to be hospitalized due to constant exposure.
However, organic cotton crops are rotated between different soils so there is no nutrient loss. This also reduces the need for harmful chemicals.
5. Effect on Skin
Since there are no harmful chemicals or pesticides used in the farming of organic cotton, it’s safer and gentler on the skin. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about inhaling any toxic fumes. This means that when you invest in organic cotton products, you don’t need to worry about them causing skin conditions or respiratory issues. This is unlike conventional cotton which can contain hazardous chemicals that can cause said respiratory issues along with allergies and infections.
Conventional cotton causes irreversible and massive damage to the environment in which it’s grown, including water and soil. This is why it’s becoming increasingly necessary for us to ethically reorient our ways of growing the crop. You may think going organic isn’t as profitable or productive as growing conventional cotton, but it eventually helps farmers make a better and bigger impact on their profits and environment.