June 14, 2023 8 min read

Cotton is a heavily traded commodity that accounts for billions of dollars in the world’s economy. The term organic refers to any type of plant that is grown in a healthy, sustainable way without the use of toxic chemicals. When it comes to your bedding or clothing like your favorite t-shirt, it’s important to look for safe organic cotton products that are good for you and the environment. If you’re unsure about the difference between organic and non-organic cotton, this guide is chock-full of helpful information that will help you make an informed decision. From the actual seed itself to farming methods including weed and pest control, read on to learn more about organic cotton vs cotton that is grown in a more conventional way.

What is Organic Cotton?

Anything classified as organic cotton has very little to no environmental impact. The method that organic cotton farms use to grow, harvest, and produce organic cotton is completely free of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides that can be harmful to human health.

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Not only do these chemicals pose a threat to consumers, but they also cause serious harm to water sources, soil, and the local ecosystems where any form of non-organic cotton is grown. Anything that is officially labeled as organic must meet a variety of restrictions and guidelines throughout the entire process from planting the seeds and growing the cotton to the actual manufacturing process of cotton products.

What is Non-Organic Cotton?

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Conventional cotton, or non-organic cotton, is typically grown with a variety of harmful chemicals designed to keep weeds and pests at bay. The cotton may also be grown using genetically modified seeds. In some cases, cotton farmers may also use unethical practices like child labor and paying low wages to workers.

Normal cotton, which is not considered organic, uses many different harsh chemicals that are also commonly used in traditional farming, including synthetic fertilizers and chemicals sprayed on plants like dangerous pesticides. Let’s take a much closer look at the many differences between regular cotton and organic cotton.

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The Differences Between Organic Cotton and Non-Organic Cotton

You may wonder, does organic cotton make a difference? When it comes to things like higher quality and value for the money, the benefits of organic cotton are many. You might also ask, is 100% cotton the same as organic cotton? Not necessarily. Just because something is labeled as being made from 100 percent cotton, it doesn’t mean that the cotton is 100% organic. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the products you purchase are clearly labeled as being made of 100 percent organic cotton, and not just 100 percent cotton alone. Here are some of the differences between organic cotton products and synthetic materials.

The cotton seed

Cotton is a very soft, fluffy fiber that grows in a protective case around the seeds of cotton plants. Organic farming only uses seeds that are never genetically modified, which means that the seeds are always grown without using any form of synthetic chemicals like toxic pesticides or dangerous chemical-based fertilizers. The cotton seed is never heavily treated with anything unnatural, ensuring that the environment remains safe and chemical-free. When you buy organic cotton products, you’ll know that the process begins with safe, healthy seeds grown by certified organic farmers. From the seed to the plant, everything is pure and safe. Non-organic cotton farming often uses genetically engineered and modified seeds.

The soil and water

When organic cotton plants are grown, the same soil as the original soil from the farm is used, but it must have all traces of any toxic residues and hazardous pesticides completely removed. This process can take at least three years or longer to complete, and once it’s finished, only natural seeds that have not been genetically modified may be planted in the soil. Regular crop rotation also promotes stronger, healthier soil. And soil rotation also promotes healthier, more resilient soil that is naturally rich in nutrients, which eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Additionally, organic cotton relies on much less water than standard cotton, and most of the water used to irrigate the plants is recycled. These organic farms use approximately 91 percent less water than standard cotton farms. Organic cotton plants require less water to grow, which also means there’s less waste of valuable resources. These farmers also use smarter irrigation techniques that promote water conservation and reduce water waste and use.

The weed control

All farms need to be mindful when dealing with weeds, but organic cotton farming uses different methods than standard farms, which tend to use chemicals to kill unwanted weeds. Instead, organic farms control weeds through hand hoeing (or hand removing) and through cultivation.

Some organic farms also use natural weed control methods that include safe alternatives like neem oil, hydrogen peroxide, garlic, and vinegar which won’t damage the ecosystem. Regular use of herbicides is not only bad for the environment, but they also usually become less effective over time. This results in the need to use them even more and more often, which causes serious harm to the soil, air, and water supply.

The pest control

Pests are another common issue for farms, but there is a much safer, healthier way to control them than through using dangerous pesticides. Organic cotton fields use natural predators and healthy soil to keep pests under control. Using beneficial insects helps to control pests in a safe, natural way and doesn’t require the use of harmful insecticides.

A big difference between organic cotton and non-organic cotton is that traditional cotton farming uses pesticides that contain some of the most common highly toxic chemicals known to man. This means that the products you buy like sheets and other bedding could have seriously dangerous effects on your health over time if they’re not classified as organic.

How it’s grown

Some say that cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop. But growing organic cotton ensures that practices are in place to ensure a more sustainable environment not just for humans, but also for fish, birds, and wildlife. The absence of chemicals and toxins is key when it comes to growing organic plants.

By using natural seeds, harvesting from the same plant each year, reducing water use, and practicing all-natural methods for weed and pest control, most organic cotton is grown in a safe and healthy manner. So, why is organic cotton not used more often? Unfortunately, it takes much more land and more plants to grow cotton that is organic than it does to grow non-organic cotton, which means that it requires more money and available land to produce.

How It’s Harvested

Harvesting is the process of removing cotton fibers from the plant so it can be sold and processed. With organic cotton farming, the farmers typically rely on seasonal freezes to remove the cotton. This all-natural method prevents the need for heavy machinery which uses fuel and contributes to harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Even the harvesting process is much better for the environment, ensuring that this part of the supply chain is also done in a responsible way. Non-organic cotton relies on a variety of harmful substances and toxic chemicals for defoliation and harvesting. And, it accounts for just over 10 percent of the world’s insecticides, which is another reason why it’s called the dirtiest crop in the world.

Why organic cotton is better than normal cotton?

So, why is organic cotton better for you? Let’s take a closer look at some more reasons why organic cotton is much better than “normal cotton.” First, you may ask, is organic cotton bleached? Unlike other synthetic materials, organic cotton is never bleached, so you won’t need to worry about this chemical irritating your skin or your respiratory tract.

Is Organic Cotton Better for the Environment?

  • Organic cotton is much more sustainable than normal cotton thanks to the avoidance of harsh toxic chemicals, water conservation, and natural harvesting methods.
  • Much of the world’s cotton requires a lot of energy to produce, which means that more CO2 is released into the atmosphere, but organic cotton uses much less. Some studies show that normal cotton growing may account for as much as 46 percent of global warming potential.
  • It requires much less water to grow and harvest organic cotton than it does to grow normal cotton.
  • There is no use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides when growing organic cotton.
  • Organic cotton production promotes healthier soil quality.
  • Growing cotton via traditional means is detrimental to the environment and has even turned massive lakes into deserts over time.

Is Organic Cotton Better for your health?

  • Those with sensitive skin will appreciate using organic textiles like clothing and bedding since there are no chemicals added that may cause skin irritation like hives, rashes, or other types of allergy issues.
  • Natural materials like organic cotton are hypoallergenic so they won’t create allergy problems, promoting a more restful, deeper sleep without interruptions.
  • Traditional cotton can be toxic and may affect those with chemical sensitivities. Common chemicals found in regular cotton include things like ammonia, chlorine, and formaldehyde.
  • People who deal with various skin allergies benefit from using organic bedding and other organic products since they are devoid of toxins that may cause flare-ups.
  • Some research from the World Health Organization shows that the chemicals used to make non-organic products may cause health issues including cancer, miscarriage, and birth defects.
  • Organic cotton is vegan which means that no animals or animal byproducts are used to plant, grow, harvest, or make organic cotton products whatsoever.

Organic Cotton helps protect the health of farmers

  • Organic cotton farming does not expose farmers and farm workers to chemicals, resulting in a healthier experience and environment for all. Conventional cotton farms are not held to the same standards, so there is more room for unethical practices like using child labour and paying unfair wages.
  • Most organic farms pay fair wages, which allows workers to better provide for themselves and their families.
  • The production process is also safer and does not use equipment that produces CO2 emissions which could endanger the health of farm workers.
  • Look for products that meet GOTS or the Global Organic Textile Standard, since this organization oversees the entire supply chain throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that all workers and farmers involved in production are properly protected.

Organic cotton is better quality than normal cotton

  • Organic cotton is better in terms of durability since it features longer fibers that are much more durable and longer lasting than regular cotton bedding.
  • Aside from its durability, organic cotton is also much softer than regular cotton, making it an extremely more luxurious material that makes organic cotton feel a lot gentler on the skin.
  • Another thing that makes organic cotton a better option is that it doesn’t pill, so you won’t need to worry about removing lint every time you wash your bedding.
  • If you tend to get hot during the night, organic cotton is more breathable than non-organic cotton to help you stay cool and comfortable during the summer, and cozy during the winter.
  • When you wash organic cotton, it won’t shrink, so you can feel confident that your sheets and other bedding will always fit your bed size.
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Final thoughts on the difference between organic and non-organic cotton

When it comes to your bedding, investing in more sustainable alternatives is a smart choice not only for your personal health but also for the health of the environment as a whole. Knowing the difference between organic and non-organic cotton can make a huge difference in the products you purchase so that you’re supporting safe, healthy, and sustainable alternatives for yourself, the earth, and your home. At Or & Zon, we offer a plethora of beautiful, luxurious, and sustainable organic products that will enhance your life. Explore our collections today to discover the perfect bedding for a great night of healthy, restful sleep every night.