If you pull on an article of clothing, let’s say a 100% cotton, blue T-shirt with some kind of print on it, are there chemicals lurking in the fabric? Unfortunately, yes, although they might not be what you’d think. Rather than coming from the cotton itself, most of the toxins in the T-shirt come from what happens long after the pesticides have been sprayed on the crops. Ever wonder what the “new” smell is on clothing, a smell that sometimes even sticks around after a washing?
Cotton and the Environment
About 25 percent of the world’s insecticide use and more than 10 percent of the world’s pesticide goes to cotton crops. In 2003, that amounted to about 55 million pounds of pesticides being sprayed on 12.8 million acres of cotton, according to the Organic Trade Association. Some of these chemicals are considered to be the most toxic chemicals in the world. The health risks of pesticide exposure include birth defects, reproductive disorders and weaker immune systems.
Authentic organic fabrics and clothing can help the environment in a number of ways, such as: Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop. It can take almost a 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton in the US, and it takes just under one pound of raw cotton to make one t-shirt