what comes to mind when we pull on our favorite cotton t-shirt. slip into cotton sheets or wrap baby in cotton diapers? Cleanliness? Comfort? Purity? Think again sunshine.
It's time to say good-bye to the cute, fluffy, innocent friendship you shared with cotton, and hello to the real costs that modern cotton farming inflicts on our lives.
COTTON, THE HARD WAY
FACTS: In 1995, California's cotton fields were blanketed by over 17 million pounds of pesticides, and use of these dangerous chemicals has only increased since then. Globally, conventional cotton uses 25% of all insecticides, and 10% of all pesticides.
In the U.S., it takes nearly a third of a pound of chemicals to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt. It is estimated that less than 10% of the chemicals applied to cotton are accomplishing their tasks, the rest are absorbed into the plant, air, soil, water and eventually, our bodies. Additionally, cotton seeds are used for cotton seed oil, a cornerstone of many processed foods.
Don't panic just yet. Let the following help you reclaim that warm fuzzy cotton friendship you once knew.
COTTON RUNS WILD!
FACTS: Brown, wild cotton, the root of all crossbred varieties has been used by Peruvians and their ancestors for over 4000 years, and still grows organically in it's natural colors today. In 1990, about 900 acres of organic cotton were grown in the U.S. - today that figure has grown to nearly 10,000 acres.
Thanks to a serious commitment by growers, manufacturers and retailers, chemical-free clothing, bedding and other products are now readily available to the honest consumer who would rather not be bothered with toxics on the farm, in the workplace or in the home.
If you care about what you put in your body, perhaps it's time to scrutinize what you put on your body.
SWEET OR SOUR DREAMS?
Before you rush out and buy an organic t-shirt, perhaps you should sleep on it first. Since one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, our bedrooms can be the cause of severe irritation rather then comforting rest. Research has shown that while sleeping, our body is many more times sensitive to environmental influences than while awake.
Plywood, foams, textiles and other basic ingredients used in beds and home furnishings actually emit gasses (VOC's) into the air of our homes. Formaldehyde, found in most foams, glues and fabric finishes has been identified by the U.S. EPA as a source of bronchitis, skin rashes, headaches, general fatigue, and as a suspected human carcinogen.
To make your bedroom a safe, relaxing place minimize furnishings that contain formaldehyde, synthetics, or that can collect dust, such as drapes, carpets, and rugs. Wash your bedding often in hot water to kill any dust mites which may take up residence there. Also, leave windows open to bring in fresh air as often as possible - this helps create a healthier sleeping environment.
Chemical-free, organic cotton, wool and hemp offer safe, sensible home furnishing alternatives. Wool is naturally resistant to odors, mildew and dust mites, which can be another source of allergies. Hemp fabric is generally more durable, and less environmentally taxing than conventional cotton or synthetics. Buy purchasing chemical-free clothing and furnishings, you honor our past and promote a sustainable future.
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