ORGANIC COTTON

LOW WATER FOOTPRINT

Selection between organic or convetional cotton is not a crucial factor in the total environmental impact of a cotton garment. Water footprint  varies  between regions .  Although most of the organic cotton is rain-fed,  it is not enough to say that  is organic. We need to be sure is not deplaiting water resources. 

Our color grown organic cotton fabric is produced in Brazil, which is rainfed, so no artificial irrigation is used (only rainwater). It is woven and spun in Europe under strict quality controls. Our supplier fully controls the processes of cultivation, spinning and weaving. It does not apply wet processes, only the washing.  We also use cotton produced in Turkey, one of the countries with the least transgenic seed contamination. It is GOTS-certified both spinning and weaving. It does not apply wet processes, only the washing. We are in progress to know demand water from our Turkish organic cotton.

We have decided not to use any cotton that comes from countries or regions where the water scarcity is exacerbated by the cotton industry as happen in India.  India’s extensive groundwater resources are rapidly being depleted, The government subsidizes the costs of farmers’ electric pumps, placing no limits on the volumes of groundwater extracted at little cost. We have used only when we have no options as it happens with zippers. We made our part explaining our suplier why we prefer other origin or other material.

NOT ALL ORGANIC IS THE SAME

Organic cotton benefits us by protecting the environment. Our  GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)  cotton causes less water footprint and less carbon footprint. The cotton has been grown on fields without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or defoliants. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and locally adapted inputs in place of chemical inputs which can have an adverse effect on the farmer and the environment genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are prohibited in organic products. Cotton fibers represent 26% of total fibers in the world and Organic cotton counts for less than 1% of the total cotton production.

We rely on Global Organic Textile Standard  because it contains at least 95% certified organic fibers. But another kind of standards is often used in fast fashion that allows that fabric with only 5% of organic is certified as organic mistaking to customers. We have raw cotton and fabric certification. There are no manufacturing certified companies in Spain where we can produce our garments.

ENVIROMENTAL BENEFITS

Results indicate that organically grown cotton has the following average potential impact savings over conventional:

  • Reducing agricultural inputs Co2 as no pesticide, it is 62% reduced global warming potential, less irrigation and tractor operation. [1]
  • Reduce impact on wildlife: 70 % reduced acidification potential and 65 % percent reduced eutrophication potential.[2]
  • Our rain fed Organic cotton lint from Brazil cotton 96% reduced blue water footprint. [3]
  • Without fertilizer or irrigation needed our organic cotton uses: 70 % less primary energy demand (non-renewable). [1]

DIG DEEPER TO WATER FOOTPRINT

As explained sometimes fiber selection is not a crucial factor in the total environmental impact of a garment, variations between regions and sites could be larger than the use of one or another fiber. It happens with cotton and organic cotton. It is necessary to know that the origin of this percentage could vary from one region to another in the same country. But to find out how these numbers are calculated, some concepts have to be considered. The water footprint is defined as the total volume of water used to produce a product or service, and this includes:

Blue water“: the amount of water supplied directly to manufacture the product, from regulated water sources. This water is considered the most important.

Green water” means rainwater naturally provided for the cultivation.

Gray water” the volume of water required to dilute to acceptable values the polluted water discharged after an industrial process. It rounds about 13% of the total impact.

ORIGIN MATTERS

To be able to reduce the water footprint associated with the virtual water consumption of cotton lint it is necessary to take into account many variables. For example, there are significant differences in virtual water needed for cotton cultivation in different countries. The supplier of our  rainfed cotton certified it is not using irrigated water  so  there is no water blue footprint, anyway  we can base on average cotton in Brasil  not taking into account the organic origin.

The Dutchman Arjen Hoekstra, the father of the concept of water footprint, estimates from the average that to make a pair of jeans weighting 1kg requires about 10.850 liters of water of which 4900 liter comes from irrigation from blue water and 4400 from green water.

Average conventional cotton fabric water footprint in Brazil is 608 liters blue virtual water and 6263 liters of rain fed (green) per kg, green water is about 90% of these liters so the cotton blue water footprint is one of the lowest in the world [3]: by selecting cotton from Brazil we are reducing our blue water footprint fabric in 88% compared to the average. The organic cotton of our Simone jeans is from Brazil and rainfed certified by our supplier.

Organic cotton doesn’t use pesticides, but it uses more water in the first harvests. But you still have to consider the water that is lost through water pollution due to pesticide use and toxic chemicals in the production process. But once fields are transitioning to organic after 1 or 2 rotation cycles the soil quality rises, the need for water is lowered and allows for the same or even less water usage.  Organic cotton is a rotation crop. The soil is healthy and maintains its nutrients and is better able to hold water in, 50% better than conventional soil. Crop rotation is also an effective measure to break many insect pests and plant disease cycles. Another plus is that organic cotton farms keep lots of people employed fairly.

WHY DOES IT COST MORE?

Organic cotton is more expensive to grow than conventional because organically grown crops still must contend with weeds and fight devouring insects.It is more expensive to harvest because it is done without the use of conventional chemical harvest-aids and is more labor intensive resulting in higher harvest costs. Organic fabrics are more expensive to manufacture. Because of the relatively small quantities of cotton involved, it is more expensive to gin, clean and manufacture organic cotton fabric, all the cotton gins and weaving and knitting machines must be cleaned of all residues from the processing of the conventional cotton. This all contributes to increasing the costs for producing organic cotton fabrics.

HIGHER QUALITY

The cotton fibre is much stronger than conventional cotton because the fibre is not weakened by the chemical cleansers or dyes. We recommend you wash cold for best results and the least shrinkage. Conventional cotton apparel is generally treated with chemicals during finishing reducing the shrinkage effects of heat. Organic cotton is not treated, so in high heat it is possible for the cotton to shrink more. We have sanforized our denim twill cotton, reducing to a minimum.

WORK IN PROGRESS

We are in progress to know demand water from our Turkish organic cotton, if it was not possible to know we will change this quality as soon as we find an alternative from a water saving perspective,  we have started to look for recycled cotton and hemp qualities.