Organic Cotton Facts Overview

Of all organic fibers, organic cotton is one of the most popular. Here are some facts about the growing organic cotton industry.

What is "organic cotton?"
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and it should also be free of GMO (Genetically modified organism).
How much organic cotton is grown globally?
According to the fourth annual Organic Exchange Farm and Fiber Report 2009, organic cotton production grew an impressive 20 percent over 2007/08 to 175,113 metric tons (802,599 bales) grown on 625,000 acres (253,000 hectares). Organic cotton now represents 0.76 percent of global cotton production.

Organic cotton is grown in 22 countries worldwide with the Top Ten producer countries led by India and including (in order of rank) Turkey, Syria, Tanzania, China, United States, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso. Approximately 220,000 farmers grow the fiber.
What is the value of the global organic cotton market?
According to a report by Textile Exchange (formerly Organic Exchange), neither the recession nor unstable economies have put a damper on the fast-growing organic textiles industry, which grew 20% to an estimated $5.16 billion in 2010. Textile Exchange projects that the global organic cotton market will increase another 20% in 2011 to result in an estimated $6.2 billion market by the end of 2011 and a $7.4 billion market in 2012.

In fact, companies are increasingly becoming certified to traceability standards such as the Organic Exchange (OE) Blended or OE 100 standard tracing the organic fiber from the field to finished product. Many manufacturers also became certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which addresses textile's processing stages and includes strong labor provisions.
How is the apparel industry involved with organic cotton?
Apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100 percent organically grown cotton, or blend small percentages of organic cotton with conventional cotton in their products. There are a number of companies driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton.
What kinds of products are made using organic cotton?
As a result of consumer interest, organic cotton fiber is used in everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs and ear swabs), to home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding), children's products (toys, diapers), clothes of all kinds and styles (whether for lounging, sports or the workplace), and even stationery and note cards.

In addition, organic cottonseed is used for animal feed, and organic cottonseed oil is used in a variety of food products, including cookies and chips.
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