At Hyde, we often get asked about how significant a difference there is between organic cotton yoga clothing and non-organic. Many people know the immediate difference is in the feel of the garment; organic cotton is famously softer than it’s conventional counterpart. But the differences at the level of environmental impact are staggering: non-organic or conventional cotton is one of the most chemically treated and pesticide-ridden crops grown on the planet today. We’ve always known that organic yoga clothing is more eco-friendly than pieces made from non-organic materials, but we didn’t know all of the facts. So we did some research on Gaiam Life.
Conventional Cotton: Chemical, Insecticide, and GMO Ridden
Over 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of all insecticides used worldwide are consumed in the production of one crop: conventional cotton. In the United States alone it takes one third of a pound of chemicals in order to grow enough cotton for one regular sized T-shirt. The need for chemicals and insecticides in conventional cotton growing is largely due to the fact that conventional cotton crops are typically grown by farming operations with fields so large that they are nearly impossible to maintain without the use of chemical agents.
Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown using sustainable methods that farmers have relied upon for centuries to keep plants healthy and productive. Methods for tending organic cotton include both mechanical and hand weeding, the practice of crop rotation (growing different crops in a given field each year in order to diversify the mineral composition of the soil), growing several different crops at the same time in the same field and introducing beneficial insects to reduce pests.
In addition to the chemicals required to produce conventional cotton, most of it also is grown from genetically modified organism (GMO) seed. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without any sort of genetic modification. Believe it or not, cotton grown from non-GMO seeds actually yields larger harvests than than GMO cotton. A recent study of 100 cotton farms in India found that organic cotton out-produced genetically modified cotton by 16%.
Organic cotton is primarily grown overseas in countries including India, Peru, China and Turkey (Hyde’s organic cotton is Turkish), so there is the carbon footprint associated with shipping to consider when evaluating organic cotton’s eco-friendliness. It is encouraging to note, however, that the agriculture industry in Texas, California, New Mexico and other states is expanding organic cotton production. As the benefits of organic cotton, both environmental and economic, become more well known, we expect to see more domestic production. And regardless of where it’s grown, we will continue sourcing the highest quality organic cotton we can find in order to provide you with a wide range of organic yoga apparel so that your active wardrobe not only feels great to the touch but is also good for the environment. What could be better than that?