Cotton is one of the most important raw materials in the Indian textile industry and at the same time, it is the most chemical-intensive crop. In India, cotton is grown approximately on 3% of the cultivated land but it uses around 25% of the insecticides consumed in agriculture. The tendency of cotton getting infected by the pests is so high that it is impossible to have economic yields without pesticides and insecticides. Not only during cultivation and harvesting, cotton textile is also treated with certain chemicals during the processing phase to improve its performance.

Owing to much use of chemical fertilisers, chemical dyes, pesticides, growth regulators and other toxic chemicals, textile industries and manufacturers have opted for an alternative way to grow cotton without synthetic fertilisers and other chemicals and the process is popularly known as organic production. The cotton produced through this process is called organic cotton. This is the best way to manufacture sustainable textiles in the industry.

The organic production process maintains the soil fertility, reduces the use of toxic chemicals & pesticides and creates a biologically diverse agriculture. In this procedure, non-chemical means of insect control are used to have desired yields of cotton.

How is organic cotton different?

·Untreated seeds are used. There is no use of GMO or BT.
·Bio fertilisers such as cow dung are used.
·Weeds and bio pesticides are physically removed.
·Natural predators are used to kill insects.
·Trap crop is used to control pests.
·Natural defoliation process is adopted.
·Mainly mechanical and hand methods are used.

Why should organic cotton be used?

·Environmental concerns: Fertilisers and pesticides used in production get released in the environment or leach in the soil, thus cause environmental degradation.

·Health concerns: It is found that 12 of the chemicals used in the conventional cotton production are persistent organic pollutants or POPs. These are known to cause deaths, birth defects and diseases among humans and animals. The user’s skin can absorb the pesticides and chemicals used during production that leads to varied diseases. However, with organic cotton, humans and animals remain safe.

·Allergy issues: Some people can get skin allergies with the insecticides used in cotton apparels. Opting for insecticide-free cotton, reduction in skin allergies can be obtained.

·Cost: The use of different pesticides and chemical fertilisers leads to an increased cost of production for conventional cotton.

Cotton is widely used as a natural fibre in the textile industry today. It accounts for almost 50% of the textile market worldwide. Organic cotton has already gained momentum and has rich market potential. This is because leading fashion brands have started offering apparels and fashion with 100% organic cotton and consumers are also getting aware of the environment and the quality of the cloth they use. The need for an eco-friendly culture in industries and agriculture, the increasing awareness about the depletion of resources and concern for a life without any harmful chemicals have increased the relevance of the organic cotton.

Author's Bio: 

Mayank Mohindra is an author on apparel, fashion, and textile industry.His articles are based on latest apparel industry news, textile news and/or analysis of the dynamics of global apparel trade, and fashion industry.