From the very beginning, our commitment to organic cotton has been a cornerstone of Nau’s sustainable fabric sourcing strategy. Because we believe that business should be a force for positive change, we’re rigorous in selecting materials that minimize the environmental and social impacts of our products. That’s why, in ten years of business, the cotton we’ve used has always been 100% organic.
What makes organic cotton a better choice? In this FAQ, we explore how organic cotton benefits farmers, the environment, and ultimately you.
History’s most popular textile fiber, cotton is a natural fiber renowned for its softness, breathability and comfort next to skin. At Nau, we blend cotton into technical, high performance fabrics with casual comfort.
Organic cotton is cotton that is produced and certified according to organic agricultural standards. These include prohibiting the use of synthetic agrichemicals, like pesticides and fertilizers, as well as genetically modified seeds.
Organic practices sustain the health of soils, ecosystems, and people by relying on ecological processes, biodiversity, and locally adapted techniques instead of synthetic chemicals.
Conventional cotton farming is one of the most intensive uses of agrichemicals (e.g. pesticides and insecticides) in modern agriculture. Although conventional cotton is grown on only 2.4% of all farmland, today it accounts for 24% of global insecticide sales and 11% of global pesticide sales. The use of these synthetic chemicals can have severe negative impacts on the health of workers in the field, as well as long-term damage to the surrounding ecosystem. Additionally organic cotton does not use GMO seeds and supporting a more balanced and natural farming approach.
To certify that our organic cotton is free of pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s, we work with accredited third-party certification bodies that verify producers against international standards like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Organic Cotton Standard (OCS).
Most organic cotton is grown in India, and the vast majority (92%) of global organic cotton is produced in just five countries: India (66.9%), China (11.69%), Turkey (6.49%), Kyrgyzstan (4.93%), and the USA (2.16%).
All cotton farming requires lots of water, and organic cotton farming is no exception. However, since organic cotton crops rely predominantly on natural rainfall instead of irrigation, they use much less than conventional crops—as much as 91% less, according to studies. This is in part due to organic farming promoting healthier soils which can absorb up to 30% more water.
In 2014/15, organic cotton represented 0.43% of global cotton production.
Often, yes. Because many of the true health and environmental costs of conventional cotton production are borne by the community, not the producer, conventional cotton’s price is artificially low. A small difference in price reflects a dramatic difference in impact. By choosing organic cotton, consumers help to grow demand for the organic supply, improving the quality of soil, of water, and of the lives of farmers.
Because organic cotton restricts chemical inputs and utilizes smaller-scale farming production, it’s estimated that the equivalence of 46% less CO2 is generated during the cultivation of organic cotton vs. conventional cotton production.
Organic cotton is healthier, more secure and often more profitable for farmers. It eliminates exposure to toxic chemicals, allows for the rotation of organic food crops onto fields used for farming, and provides an alternative to expensive contracts for chemicals and genetically modified seed.
While there is no evidence of a direct health benefit from wearing organic cotton, the long term benefits of healthy soils, streams and ecosystems are shared by everyone. The biggest impacts are on the health of our farmland, watersheds, and the farmers who grow the cotton.
Caring for organic cotton is no different than caring for conventional cotton. Some garments may require ironing, because we don’t use wrinkle-resistant finishes that contain formaldehyde resins. For specific guidance in caring for your Nau garment, follow the care instructions on the label.