Monday, May 19, 2008

Organic Cotton - what qualifies?

As one who continues to strive to make personal changes on a daily basis that are more in-synch with "green living",
I have begun to investigate organic cotton.
What truly qualifies as organic cotton?

To get to the facts on certified organic cotton, I went to both the USDA website and Cotton Incorporated.
Cotton Inc. offers the most concise explanation:

" 'Organic' means the cotton is produced to a set of strict USDA standards, enforced by USDA-certifying agents who must annually inspect fields and the operation for adherence to National Organic Program (NOP) standards. NOP standards require a 3-year conversion for land before organic crops can be harvested, so becoming an organic cotton producer is a long-term decision. "

And for those of you concerned with production of organic cotton in other countries as well, the USDA adheres to the following legal standards:

"If cotton is marketed in the United States as organic, regardless of the country of origin, it still must meet the same strict U.S. standards as if it was produced here in the United States. Organic cotton cannot be legally sold, represented, or marketed in the United States unless it meets the rigorous U.S. organic standards that were implemented in October, 2002. And only a USDA-certifying agent can verify that the cotton – wherever it was produced – meets the U.S. standards."

The biggest dilema regarding organic cotton is that many of the mass-market companies such as Walmart who are priding themselves as using organic cotton are utilizing dye methods that are chemical and metal-based dying and finishing techniques. Therefore, the fiber is organic, yet these chemical dyes are running off into water systems, polluting water and lands that they are produced in. Printing methods on organic cotton may also be from toxic chemicals. Finishes used to make home furnishing textiles stain-resistant or flame-retardant contain harsh toxins.

So keep your eye out for:
Certified USDA organic cotton
Vegetable and non-toxic dyes
Soy, water-based, and non-toxic printing
Chemical-free finishing alternatives

Given this information,
I am inspired to showcase some certified organic cotton products for that utitlize chemical-free dyes and printing processes so that your product is truly keeping the Earth happy and green...more soon!

If you have any more information regarding organic cotton, or products that you have found please feel free to share here on Glass House Living.

Also featured this week will be fun and practical CLOTH items...of a recycled nature

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