Billed as the “fabric of our lives,” cotton is one of the world’s largest crops — and a surprisingly complicated one, at that. Pro-slavery U.S. senator James Henry Hammond famously said, “Cotton is king” in 1858, but we’re not taking his word for it. Here’s why hemp is better.
The Case Against Non-Organic Cotton
Monoculture — Cotton is mostly grown in monoculture. That is bad for the land on which it is grown, speeding up the growth of pests and diseases.
Pesticides — Cotton grows on only 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land yet it consumes 16% (5x) of all the world’s insecticides and 7% (3x) of all the world’s herbicides.
Water Consumption — Intensive cotton farming requires massive amounts of water for irrigation. Water is diverted from other areas and uses, upsetting the ecosystem. The pesticides used to grow cotton wash into the water system, polluting lakes and rivers.
Climate Change — Large scale cotton farming degrades soil, an important carbon sink. Nitrates produce harmful gases.
Social Problems — Farmers who do not have training and skills around using pesticides can become sick.
Why Hemp is the Winner
Polyculture — Hemp is grown in rotation with other crops to increase nutrients in the soil and decrease development of pests and diseases.
No Pesticides — Hemp grows without the need for insecticides and herbicides. It’s naturally organic.
Water Consumption — Hemp uses far less water than cotton. No pesticides are used so they can’t end up into the water system, protecting our lakes and rivers.
Climate Change — Hemp is the only fabric that is actually carbon negative. As hemp grows it consumes a massive amount of carbon dioxide.
Social Solutions — Hemp farmers are not exposed to pesticides simply because hemp doesn’t require it to grow.
How do we minimize the role of cotton in our lives? By using fair trade, organic or recycled cotton where absolutely necessary and making a conscious shift to alternative plant-based fabrics like hemp.
Ready to clean up your closet? Shop sustainably-sourced hemp and organic cotton goods here.
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