I am an organic cotton bale, grown in the U.S. In real life, I am 500 times this size, weighing approximately 500 pounds.
My 500-pound size can typically be produced on less than 1 acre, depending on weather conditions. I can produce 1,217 T-shirts, 215 pairs of jeans, 249 bed sheets or 4,321 socks.
But, I wasn’t always organic. Twenty-five years ago, I was grown conventionally with the help of numerous synthetically produced toxic pesticides and fertilizers. I will tell you how I got here.
Organic is not just for eating anymore! Twenty-four cutting-edge and innovative organic fiber lifestyle brands and support businesses making up the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Fiber Council proved that point in an inspiring, educational and entertaining two-day organic fiber pop-up event in the heart of Manhattan.
OTA’s Fiber Council convened a task force of members in September to address the very heart of misleading organic claims and prepare comments on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Organic Program (NOP) joint consumer survey. The survey focused on consumers’ perception of false claims on non-food products, namely textiles and body care products.
An ongoing concern for the organic sector has been the lack of enforcement of organic claims on non-food items that are non-agricultural.
Fifty companies in the United States are now certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Meanwhile, Canada has seven companies certified to the program. GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing—including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing—of apparel and home textiles made with organic fiber. The standard includes both environmental and social criteria.
Growing Organic Cotton
In 1993, a group of farmers on the high plains of Texas planted thousands of acres of organic and transitional cotton. After finding a very underdeveloped market with only one or two potential customers, they formed the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC).
With no paid staff, the organization worked out of co-founder Jimmy Wedel’s home trying to develop a totally unknown market.
Twenty-three years later, the farmers who make up TOCMC are receiving OTA’s Farmer of the Year Organic Leadership Award.
Textile Exchange (TE) has released two reports that highlight leading companies in the use of organic cotton and sustainable fibers and materials, and detail what they are doing to improve sustainability in the textile value chain.