is cotton bad for the environment

    Cotton is not bad for the environment. The production of polyester uses harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, and if emitted to water and air untreated, can cause significant environmental damage. Organiccotton.org (a consortium of European fair trade and textile industry groups) has a good quick read on the environmental and social impacts of cotton processing . Cotton is a natural fibre that when woven or knitted produces a soft, strong fabric that is breathable, absorbent and washable. All cotton is biodegradable. THE DANGERS OF SYNTHETIC FIBERS AND FABRICS ON THE ENVIRONMENT. However the way it is farmed may be. Other social and environmental issues with cotton. It can be coloured and woven. The production of organic cotton does not use machine cleaning. In developing countries, half of the pesticides used in all of agriculture are put toward cotton. When the United States researched a similar point, they defined a much lower number for the full lifetime of a cotton grocery bag. And other aspects of agriculture dwarf even these two stalwart crops–watering pasture to raise livestock triples the amount of consumption for cotton production. Dr. Frederic Beaudry is an associate professor of environmental science at Alfred University in New York. Genetically modified cotton can also help reduce pesticide application, but with many caveats. Organic cotton uses far less water too. Fact:  Cotton only accounts for three percent of water used for crop irrigation. There are many factors that contribute to the more efficient growth of cotton, including precision agriculture techniques and technologies tied to agronomy and genetically modified cotton that’s able to better withstand elements and pests. Cotton cultivation causes soil degradation and erosion as well as loss of forest area and other habitat. Generally, a combination of tilling practices and herbicides are used to knock back weeds. Cotton. Fact:  When it comes to cotton, the fact is that nothing goes to waste. The American/Australian venture will surely point the way forward for all cotton-producing markets that prioritize sustainability over multiple generations. Plants can no longer grow on these soils and agriculture has to be abandoned. Old cotton can also be recycled to make new yarn and garments. This involved collecting sediment from around 20 coastal sites in the United Kingdom. A big effort in the organic movement is to use growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. The alternative: Organic cotton Our process for purifying cotton is completely chlorine-free. As part of the same study, published in Science, researchers also took surface water samples and compared the microfiber contents from samples taken decades prior. At a time when the general population is moving toward greener practices, the bigger question asks about the environmental cost of growing cotton. Fiction:  Cotton uses a large amount of farmland. Data shows that the purification process removes these organisms. Here’s another way of looking at the efficiency of cotton production—the end-product yield of just one 480-pound bale is quite stunning: While the US market has emphasized working toward more sustainable cotton production practices over the last two decades, the rest of the world has lagged. These fibers include wool, cotton, silk, bamboo fiber, and banana fiber. Clothing made from organic cotton … Cotton is not bad for the environment. Fiction: Hygiene products made with Purified Cotton® contains glyphosate, one of the most widely-used herbicides in agriculture. Organic cotton is grown to preserve both the environment and human health. Where organic cotton may have an advantage is in using fewer chemicals. However, the largest producers of cotton are China, India, and the United States. It still uses chemicals, just naturally derived ones, which advocates say … A well-recognized organic certification program helps consumers make smart choices and protects them from greenwashing. Organic cotton is grown in a way that uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on our environment. According to the World Wildlife Fund, using IPM decreased pesticide use for some of India’s cotton farmers by 60–80%. Cotton is everywhere. “Cotton bags must be reused thousands of times before they meet the environmental performance of plastic bags,” concluded the Danish study. The production of the fertilizers necessary to grow cotton causes a major output of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. This can be achieved through different means. Another issue is the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Naturally, glyphosate ends up in the environment, and our knowledge of its effects on soil health, aquatic life, and wildlife is far from complete. a single conventional cotton plant produces more fibre than an organic one as it has been genetically engineered this way). Integrated Pest Management (IPM), for example, is an established, effective method of fighting pests which results in a net reduction of pesticides used. Cotton’s most prominent environmental impacts result from the use of agrochemicals (especially pesticides), the consumption of water, and the conversion of habitat to agricultural use. Fact:  Genetic modification has different goals in different crops. They observe… We use cotton fibers to make clothing, bed sheets, curtains, car seats, pillows, and much, much more. Fiction:  Purified Cotton®, used in a wide range of hygiene products for women and babies, contains genetically modified organisms. To control the numerous pests feeding on the cotton plant, farmers have long relied on the heavy application of insecticides, which leads to the pollution of surface and groundwater… In addition, synthetic fertilizers contribute an important quantity of greenhouse gases during their production and use. Is Microfiber or Cotton More Eco-Friendly? © 2020 Barnhardt Natural Fibers. Organic cotton crop does not use harmful chemicals like synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Other environmentally sound wool replacements include Tencel, organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, soyabean fabric, linen, and recycled fibres. Every part of cotton, whether you’re talking about the plant itself, seed, oil, and of course the fiber, is used in one way or another. The epiphany occurred in 2004, when a team of researchers led by Richard Thompson from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom set out to document and quantify the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment. To grow cotton in a more environmentally friendly way, the first step must be to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides. Originally posted here on UD Journal: FIBER by Gail Baugh Cotton is t he “green” fiber! Cotton accounts for 2.4% of the world's crop land, but 24% of global sales of insecticides. COTTON. Fact: Not at Barnhardt. Researchers have found that the fertilizers used on cotton are the most detrimental to the environment, running off into freshwater habitats and groundwater … Fact: Testing at Barnhardt Purified Cotton® shows that our purified cotton product, used in a wide variety of wipes, feminine care, and baby products, is free of glyphosate down to the testing limit of 10 parts per billion. Our choices are not so simple anymore. When fields are repeatedly flooded with irrigation water, salt becomes concentrated near the surface. At Barnhardt, we take the business of producing purified cotton, and doing so as sustainably as possible, as central to our mission. Fact:  Actually, Purified Cotton® contains no genetically modified genes even if grown from seeds that were genetically modified. Cotton production is responsible for the emission of 220 million tons of CO2 annually. Fact: This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you’re trying to live a more eco-friendly life, switching … Whether we wear cotton shirts or sleep in cotton sheets, chances are that on any given day, we utilize cotton in some way. These two cotton-rich markets have joined forces, as producers and industry organizations pursue new standards for sustainability with pioneering investments in infrastructure and practices. For cotton, one of the main purposes of genetic modification is to lessen the amount of pesticides needed throughout the growing season, which results in less pesticide runoff. Cotton plants require significant pesticide use, making up 16% of all insecticide and almost 7% of all herbicide use worldwide. Both Asian countries produce the highest quantities, mostly for their domestic markets, and the U.S. is the largest exporter of cotton with about 10 million bales each year. It is an agricultural product and completely biodegradable if nothing is added to it. Natural fibres have their problems, too. We call it the Enhanced Visual Opening Cleaning System (EVOC), which produces the cleanest cotton on the market today, virtually free of all impurities. The production of cotton-textiles uses up large amounts of resources, such as water and energy, as well as releasing byproducts of starch, paraffin, dyes, pesticides and other harmful pollutants into the air and soil — under regular conditions. In the Texas Panhandle, cotton fields are irrigated by pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer. Pollinators such as bees play a critical role in pollinating the crops humans rely on for food. They are spun from their natural base fibers, often, by hand with no factories or fuels needed. If glyphosate resistance doesn't work for controlling weeds, soil-damaging tilling practices may need to resume. If you have questions about the environmental impact of our products, please contact us to learn the facts about cotton and the safety of our environment. Another negative consequence of heavy irrigation is soil salination. It also takes up a large proportion of agricultural land, much of which is needed by local people to grow their own food. Two-thirds of India’s cotton production is irrigated with groundwater, so you can imagine the damaging ramifications. In the United States, western cotton farmers rely on irrigation as well. The goal for the next 10 years for U.S. Cotton is to increase land use efficiency by 13%. Learn more ». The former cotton fields of Uzbekistan have seen this issue on a large scale. of global use of herbicides and pesticides, 45% less irrigation water to grow a pound of cotton, lessen the amount of pesticides needed throughout the growing season, Data shows that the purification process removes these organisms, down to the testing limit of 10 parts per billion, Enhanced Visual Opening Cleaning System (EVOC), plant itself, seed, oil, and of course the fiber, Protect Yourself and the Planet With Natural Hygiene Products, Debunking Myths About Cotton Sustainability, Purified Cotton Fiber Is GMO-Free After Scouring And Purification, Processing Cotton: Growing Quality Cotton, Sustainably, Learn how Barnhardt Manufacturing Company, Inc. is communicating internally and externally, regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic. In fact, we recently updated our purification process on a number of fronts. Because these yarns contain no synthetic materials, manufacturing them has no negative impact on the environment. As an interesting side note, 95 percent of human clothing derives from genetically modified cotton. As defined by a Danish study in 2018, any cotton grocery bag should be used 7,100 times for it to truly be positive for the environment. Simple, right? Fiction:  Disposable, single-use products are not biodegradable. Spanning eight states from South Dakota to Texas, this vast underground sea of ancient water is being drained for agriculture far faster than it can recharge. Fiction: Purified Cotton® contains chlorine, which can be harmful to human health as a respiratory irritant. That way, the fields can be sprayed with the herbicide when the plant is young, easily eliminating competition from weeds. Recent advancements in technology, including the ability to modify the cotton plant’s genetic material, have made cotton toxic to some of its common pests. ». Learn more », Barnhardt has a strong history of innovation. Obviously, one could question the appropriateness of growing a non-food crop in arid portions of California and Arizona during the current multi-year drought. Fiction: Cotton uses a large amount of water for irrigation. The Cotton LEADS program was jointly initiated by the Australian and United States cotton industries. One such third-party certification organization is the Global Organic Textile Standards. With the unending discussion about renewable energy and fossil fuel, and the harm it is causing to our environment, the unhealthy carbon emission, depleting the ozone layer and ultimately bringing about the impending catastrophic global warming environmental scientists warn us about, it is important we decide if we … Fiction:  The production of cotton is inefficient, creating a lot of waste products along the production chain. Irrigation allows additional acreage in the Texas Panhandle, southern Arizona, and California’s San Joaquin Valley. All Rights Reserved. More than 50% of the world’s cotton comes from the United States. In northwest Texas, Ogallala groundwater levels have dropped over 8 feet between 2004 and 2014. So, was my decision to ditch plastic bags bad for the environment… Wherever it comes from, the water withdrawals can be so massive that they diminish river flows significantly and deplete groundwater. Cotton has a strong record in sustainability. To control the numerous pests feeding on the cotton plant, farmers have long relied on the heavy application of insecticides, which leads to the pollution of surface and groundwater. Farmworkers, particularly where the labor is less mechanized, continue to be exposed to harmful chemicals. Cotton yarn production is, unfortunately, quite harmful for the environment. This phenomenon has had a positive effect on both the environment human health through the reduction in water contamination. The Domestication History of Cotton (Gossypium), An Overview of Biotechnology and the Biotech Industry, Environmental Consequences of the California Drought, Cleaner, Greener Cotton: Impacts and Better Management Practices. In many regions, rainfall is insufficient to grow cotton. Needing sunshine, abundant water, and relatively frost-free winters, cotton is grown in a surprising variety of locations with diverse climates, including Australia, Argentina, West Africa, and Uzbekistan. It is a versatile part of many fabrics. Livelihoods, wildlife habitats, and fish populations have been decimated. Lately, global members of the supply chain have worked in collaborative frameworks like Cotton LEADS, a joint venture of the American and Australian cotton industries. Corn, to use another quite versatile crop as an example, uses more than twice as much water to produce. If you’ve heard something on the street about the production of cotton, chances are, it’s likely wrong. One of the most versatile crops grown all over the world, the cotton story is one that’s commonly told with misconceptions and some outright falsehoods, especially with regard to the environmental impact of a product so crucial to the success of multiple industries, including apparel, non-wovens, upholstery, and many more. While organic cotton is less toxic to the environment, it takes over twice as much water to produce than conventional cotton. This is an especially important concern for those farmers interested in following no-till practices, which normally help preserve the soil structure and reduce erosion. Fact:  Global cotton production actually accounts for a little more than 5 percent of global use of herbicides and pesticides. Growing cotton in a sustainable manner also means planting it where rainfall is sufficient, avoiding irrigation altogether. Receive product updates and industry news straight to your inbox. Fiction:  Genetically modified cotton (aka biotechnology) is bad for the environment and harmful to humans. Fiction: Cotton uses a large percent of all the herbicides and pesticides in agriculture. Unfortunately, such concentrated application means that much of the fertilizers end up in waterways, creating one of the worst nutrient-pollution problems globally, upending aquatic communities and leading to dead zones starved of oxygen and devoid of aquatic life. A new life cycle assessment said that plastic bags are better for the environment than organic cotton tote bags. The use of child labor and slavery is common in the industry. This is pretty bad news for fish and animals as well as people. Cotton as such is not bad for environment. Yet few of us know how it is grown or its environmental impact. In addition, you need to consider the annual, dramatic increases in yield per acre in cotton production over the last decade. Knowing where cotton comes from is only half the story. Barnhardt Purified Cotton® has proven to completely decompose in a managed landfill in 30 days. Competing weeds are another threat to cotton production. Though this has reduced the use of insecticides, it hasn't eliminated the need. Conventional cotton has a higher yield than organic cotton (i.e. A large number of farmers have adopted genetically modified cotton seeds that include a gene protecting it from the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup). Organic cotton can actually use up more resources than conventionally grown cotton and it could have a greater impact on the environment. Cotton workers on organic cotton farms are spared from health problems caused by chemicals in cotton farming. Cotton is a natural plant-based fiber used in clothing, furniture, and other textile blends, … Still widely traded as a global commodity, cotton however no longer dominates the market for use in apparel. Crops like corn and soybeans require exponentially greater use of these chemical aids. To make matters worse the now-dry salt and pesticide residues are blown away from the former fields and lake bed, negatively impacting the health of the 4 million people who live downwind through an increase in miscarriages and malformations. This is because it is an organism that is a part of the environment and it produces oxygen. If a product has non-poly lactic acid synthetic components in conjunction with cotton components, the cotton will biodegrade, while the synthetic components will not. Cotton require a lot of water. In some areas the amount of pesticides used at cotton farming damaging to the environment, but cotton is not worse at that than other crops. Polyester is bad for the environment! Finally, organic farming takes into consideration all aspects of cotton production, leading to reduced environmental impacts and better health outcomes for both farmworkers and the surrounding community. As a result, it doesn't poison the water, soil or air, and is even beneficial to the environment. Let’s take a look at some of the more common misperceptions that the public has as a result of misinformation on the world of cotton production, especially here in the United States, where scrutiny of many industries is more intense than in other markets. Compared to 25 years ago, U.S. farmers are now using 45% less irrigation water to grow a pound of cotton and they have a goal to further decrease water usage by 18% in the next 10 years. While cotton is a natural fibre that can biodegrade at the end of its life, it is also one of the most environmentally demanding crops. The production of cotton is incredibly water intensive, and the methods used to process natural fibres often introduce a myriad of harmful chemicals into waters used for bathing and drinking. However, the largest environmental impact is due to the pesticides used to grow the cotton in the first place. If large scale farmed in dry areas, such as south central Russia, may cause water deposits to dry up. Fiction: Genetically modified cotton (aka biotechnology) is bad for the environment and harmful to humans. EVOC contributes to our vision for a more sustainable, high-performance Purified Cotton® that sets a new standard for excellence in nonwovens, particularly in the areas of feminine and baby hygiene products. Fact: Genetic modification has different goals in different crops. The class of pesticides used on cotton is one of the main suspects in the worldwide bee die-off. And an additional 85 countries grow the crop as well, with 55 of those exporting. Cotton production is also the most pesticide intensive crop in the world, which causes serious repercussions to the soil, surrounding biodiversity and the run off of pesticide from the fields often ends up polluting nearby waterways. Cotton is a fiber grown on a plant of the Gossypium genus, which, once harvested, can be cleaned and spun into the fabric we know and love. However, the deficit can be made up by irrigating the fields with water from wells or nearby rivers. Are There Environmentally Friendly Alternatives for Cotton Growth? In the United States, cotton production is mostly concentrated in an area called the Cotton Belt, stretching from the lower Mississippi River through an arc spanning the lowlands of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Treehugger uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience and for our. Diversion of water and its pollution by cotton growing has had severe impacts on major ecosystems such as the Aral Sea in Central Asia, the Indus Delta in Pakistan and the Murray Darling River in Australia. Conventionally grown cotton requires the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers. Cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world: these pesticides injure and kill many people every year. Perhaps the most dramatic overuse of irrigation water is visible in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where the Aral Sea declined in surface area by 85%. And, it turns out, organic cotton is even worse — needing to have 20,000 uses versus 7,000 (this is due … It is one of the United States’ largest exports, as it ships between 40% and 60% of its crop annually. Although it is less energy intensive than nylon to produce, it still requires more than double the energy of conventional cotton to produce. 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