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What’s Wrong with Cotton?
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What’s Wrong with Cotton?

by Heather Hackett

by Rebekka Atz

And why it’s SO important to us to provide you with organic cotton baby products

From its very inception, KoalaBubs has been focused squarely on ethical trade and sustainable production when sourcing our baby products. This has meant a great deal of time and energy has gone into researching and finding suppliers that follow World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) guidelines.

The WFTO is the global watchdog and advocate for the ten guiding principles of fair trade. These not only cover the concepts of poverty reduction, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability, but also support fair prices, good working conditions and respect for the environment1.

Cotton farming is one of the worst offenders when it comes to environmental degradation. The crop is highly dependent on herbicides and pesticides, and even though it’s grown on only 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, it consumes roughly 23% of these contaminants combined2. It also requires huge amounts of water to be successful.

Did you know that it can take up to 20,000 litres of water

to produce enough cotton to make a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans3.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Cotton production is also one of the most chemically-dependent and highly-mechanised processes in the manufacturing industry. And for those reasons, it’s also expensive to produce. Many of the major cotton-producing countries are third-world countries, where labour is cheap, often provided by young children, and regulation is inadequate.

In Uzbekistan, the government closes schools down every year

and sends children to pick cotton in the pesticide-contaminated fields4.

Those who work in the cotton fields are exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals and poor conditions. Formaldehyde, chlorine, benzidine, azo dyes (colouring agents) – heavy metals and chemicals used in the processing of cotton are washed into the environment and can leave harmful residues in the finished product.

But the cotton products offered by KoalaBubs are sourced from organic crops, free of these harmful chemicals and safe for both your family and the environment. We want to feel good about the products we share so that you can feel confident that our products minimise harm and promote healthy babies and a healthy planet.

Finding suppliers capable of meeting these strict guidelines has meant months and months of research and a lot of trial and error. We have found potential suppliers in Peru who grow, spin, colour and knit organic cotton yarn into baby blankets and beanies. We’ve also found a producer in India following all fair trade principles as per the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and they will produce muslin items and woven blankets for us.

Growing cotton organically is hard work. There is a lengthy transition period before certification is confirmed. It involves re-education of farmers, and it can take years to return crop yields to the volumes achieved using chemicals5.

It’s vital that we support the ongoing movement towards organic cotton farming by creating the demand for organic cotton products. KoalaBubs is proud to be part of the change we want to see in the world. And we hope you will be, too.

 

References:

  1. World Fair Trade Organisation, 2013 The 10 Principles of Fair Trade
  2. Organic Cotton, 2016, The Risks of Cotton Farming
  3. WWF, 2016 Overview: Cotton Industry
  4. Organic Cotton, 2016 The Risks of Cotton Processing

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