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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

The Processing of Organic vs. Conventional Cotton Textiles

Mar 31, 2021 12:19PM ● By Shae Marcus
Many may not fully understand the differences between buying organic or buying conventional textiles. While conventional cotton is less expensive, it also doesn’t abide by most, if not any, environmental criteria. And though this can save money, it doesn’t protect us or our pets from many harmful chemicals that are used before conventional cotton is ever grown, let alone processed.

In order to be declared organic, textile products are held to a written standard. The common ones, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), lay out minimum processing guidelines that outline ecological and social criteria. The purpose is to monitor the organic supply chain of textiles and provide consumers with a credible assurance that an organic product is, in fact, organic. From how crops are grown and harvested to textile processing, they address environmental and social responsibilities that must be followed, including its labeling. This provides consumers with a credible assurance that when they buy organic, that’s what they are getting.

Since there is no question regarding organic products, there is even more reason to avoid conventional cotton products. By learning of the differences between organic and conventional textile processing, as furnished by Harmony Art in the following descriptions, one is able to clearly see why conventional cotton should be avoided.

             Seed Preparation:

o   Organic: Natural, untreated, GMO-free seeds

o   Conventional: Seeds treated with fungicides, insecticides or possibly GMOs

·       Soil Preparation:

o   Organic: Crop rotation that retains more moisture

o   Conventional: Monocrop culture that uses synthetic fertilizers and intensive irrigation, causing loss of soil

·       Pest Control:

o   Organic: Treated with beneficial insects and trap crops

o   Conventional: Treated with fungicides, insecticides or possibly GMOs

·       Harvesting:

o   Organic: Natural defoliation from freezing temperatures or water management

o   Conventional: Defoliation induced with toxic chemicals

·       Production:

o   Organic: Warp fibers stabilized with double plying or non-toxic cornstarch

o   Conventional: Warp fibers stabilized with toxic waxes

·       Whitening:

o   Organic: Via safe Peroxide

o   Conventional: Via chlorine bleaching, which creates toxic byproducts which are released into the environment

·       Finishing:

o   Organic: Soft scour in warm water with soda ash for a PH of 7.5-8

o   Conventional: Hot water with synthetic surfactants and additional chemicals (sometimes formaldehyde)

·       Dyeing:

o   Organic: Low-impact, fiber-reactive or natural dyes with low metal and sulfur content

o   Conventional: High temperatures with heavy metals and sulfur content

·       Printing:

o   Organic: Low-impact or natural pigments with no heavy metals

o   Conventional: Pigments with heavy metals that run off into and pollute waterways

All Natural Dog Beds is concerned about what people bring into their homes; not just for their benefit, but also for their pets. They hand make, in the USA, their own solution to conventional textile processing by using organic cotton for their organic dog beds, blankets and mats. The company wants pets to reap the benefits of having an all-natural place to sleep, free of the chemicals that conventional cotton entails. 

For more information or to consider ordering products, visit