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Why Organic is Best: One Example

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I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!

Organic cotton plants

Organic cotton plants

Some people totally deny the concept and existence of "organic" plants and products, and often they label those who support organic farmers and products as "fools eager to pay more money for a mediocre product."

I'm not one of those people, and here's why: I'm a scientist, I've done my research, and what I've found is an undeniable connection between toxins, a debilitated ecosystem, and a decrease in human health.

Organic living is simple living without the use of carcinogenic toxins like pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, or man-made fertilizers, etc.

Believe it or not, but the organic method is the way crops and produce have been grown for tens of thousands of years--that is, until recently. All these crazy, carcinogenic chemicals leach into the fruits and vegetables you eat, are ingested in your body, and play a significant role in contributing to the development of diseases like cancer.

What you wear is also important, for it not only is in contact with your skin all day, but it also is directly affecting the ecosystem and Earth around you. Nature, and ecosystems, are interdependent, which is to say that when one species goes out of whack, everything around it is also disrupted (including us.) Using carcinogenic chemicals to produce cotton is unnecessary and harmful.

Once you realize the negative effects on health and the environment, you'll want to switch to organic foods and textiles.

In the U.S., one-third of a pound of chemicals is needed just to grow enough conventional cotton for a regular T-shirt.

— Catherine Potter, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Man spraying pesticides on crops

Man spraying pesticides on crops

 ORGANIC CottonNON-ORGANIC Cotton

Seeds

Non-GMO

GMO

Insects

Uses predators to deter insects

Uses carcinogenic insecticides to deter insects

Soil preparation

Crop rotation and organic matter leads to moist, healthy soil

Man-made fertilizers and monocropping leads to soil depletion and the need for intensive irrigation

Weed control

Healthy soil is balanced naturally and uses beneficial plants and insects to curb weed growth

Aerial spraying of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, known to be carcinogenic

Harvesting

Natural defoliation through the use of water management and/or temperature change

Defoliation induced by the use of toxic chemicals

Production

Loom warp fibers are stabilized using double plying or corn starch

Loom warp fibers are stabilized using toxic waxes

Whitening

Whitened using peroxide

Whitened using chlorine bleach, which releases toxic byproducts into the environment

Finishing

Soft scour in warm water using soda ash for a pH 7.5

Synthetic surfactants and hot water, sometimes using formaldehyde

Dyeing

Natural or fiber-reactive dyes with low metal and sulfur content

High temperature, with the use of heavy metals and high sulfur content

Printing

Natural or low-impact pigments with no heavy metals

Heavy metal pigments leach into water systems, causing environmental destruction

Price

Intitially about 20% more expensive in the short term

Initially about 20% cheaper in the short term

Sustainability

Sustainable

Not sustainable

Pure, organic cotton plants

Pure, organic cotton plants

Hazardous Chemicals Used In Commercial Cotton Production

The World Health Organisation classifies pesticides according to acute toxicity, using the LD50 (Lethal Dose 50%) benchmark. LD50 denotes the amount of a chemical required to kill 50% of an exposed population of laboratory rats.

WHO CategoryOral LD50 (Solids | Liquids)Dermal LD50 (Solids | Liquids)

1a Extremely Hazardous

5mg or below | 20mg or below

10mg or below | 40mg or below

1b Highly Hazardous

5-50mg | 20-200mg

10-100mg | 40-400mg

2 Moderately Hazardous

50-500mg | 200-2000mg

100-1000mg | 400-4000mg

3 Slightly Hazardous

Over 500mg | Over 2000mg

Over 1000mg | Over 4000mg

1a (Extremely Hazardous):

  • Aldicarb
  • Parathion

1b (Highly Hazardous):

  • Methamidophos

2 (Moderately Hazardous):

Scroll to Continue
  • Alpha-cypermethrin
  • Beta-cyfluthrin
  • Bromoxynil
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Deltamethrin
  • Dimethoate

3 (Slightly Hazardous):

  • Acephate
  • Etridiazole
  • Fluazifop-p-butyl
  • Malathion
  • Metalaxyl
  • Methylarsonic acid
  • Pendimethalin
  • Thiram
Pesticides are bad news

Pesticides are bad news

Acute Symptoms Of Pesticide Poisoning

Headaches, vomiting, tremors, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing or respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, seizures, and death.

Chronic effects of long-term pesticide exposure include impaired memory and concentration, disorientation, severe depression, and confusion.

Commercial Cotton Factoids

Source: Environmental Justice Foundation

  • Commercial cotton is responsible for the release of US$2 billion of chemical pesticides each year, within which at least US$819 million are considered toxic enough to be classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation.
  • Between 1% and 3% of agricultural workers worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning with at least 1 million requiring hospitalization each year, according to a report prepared jointly for the FAO, UNEP, and WHO. These figures equate to between 25 million and 77 million agricultural workers worldwide.
  • A single drop of the pesticide aldicarb, absorbed through the skin can kill an adult. Aldicarb is commonly used in cotton production and in 2003 almost 1 million kilos was applied to cotton grown in the USA. Aldicarb is also applied to cotton in 25 other countries worldwide.
  • Despite being particularly vulnerable to poisoning, child laborers throughout the world risk exposure to hazardous pesticides through participation in cotton production.
  • A 2004 study conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Lódz, in Poland, has shown that hazardous pesticides applied during cotton production can also be detected in cotton clothing.
Beautiful cotton

Beautiful cotton

More Information & Where To Buy Organic Cotton Products


Organic cotton products:


Further reading:

© 2012 Kate P

Comments

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on August 28, 2012:

As a biology major, I can totally understand the formaldehyde thing. After working with it off and on for a couple years, I found my sensitivity to it was crazy. I've also noticed that new houses, new buildings, new cars, and large warehouse-type stores make me feel odd.

Luckily organic clothing (etc.) is becoming pretty mainstream now, so it must be catching on. It's amazing what we ignore (or are unaware of) out there, and that includes non-organic foods as well.

Thanks for the great comment. I'm glad you've found a solution!

Kris Heeter from Indiana on August 28, 2012:

Thanks for putting the facts out there and for suggesting some sources for organic cotton clothing! I've been on a mission to buy organic cotton as much as possible. After years of working in a research lab, I've developed formaldehyde and other chemical sensitivities and just walking in a store with new non-organic clothing can cause breathing problems - all those chemicals off-gasing!

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on May 10, 2012:

Thanks for the comments. And yes, all organic products are equally important; not just cotton!

girltalksshop on February 12, 2012:

I never knew these facts about cotton. Great hub and very useful, plus full of information. Good to know stuff. I love cotton clothes...they are the best! : )

Trsmd from India on February 07, 2012:

Not only cotton, whatever product grown in organic way is healthier to the individual also to the land/nation. Nice awareness you have created here.Thanks for SHARING:)

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 24, 2012:

That sounds like a good idea, thanks. :)

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on January 24, 2012:

I see, please do tell us more about processed organic foods. You might want to write a hub on this so we can be educated.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 24, 2012:

I can't help but think about those multi-billionaires who seemingly have everything, and yet they don't have their health, so it's all meaningless. Health really is the most important thing we have, and to me and many others, it's worth paying an extra dollar or two to help ensure longevity.

I understand the argument, but really, organic veggies aren't that much more expensive when you weigh the pros and cons and doctor's visits. What starts getting expensive is Processed organic foods, which you shouldn't be buying anyway lol.

Thanks for the great comments!

Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on January 24, 2012:

Hello, nice hub, very interesting and with a lot of really valuable info. It is really a must to change to organic foods and textiles, but as jpcmc mentioned, the big problem is the cost, which is the reason a lot of people don't buy them.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on January 23, 2012:

Wow, this hub is full of interesting and useful information. I try to buy organic produce whenever I can. However, organic produce is more expensive. That's why I try to grow my own vegetables in the backyard. Of course with as little chemicals as possible.

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