Is Organic Cotton Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie â€˘  Updated: 11/03/22 â€˘  8 min read

Is organic cotton vegan and sustainable? These are questions every ethical consumer asks. Here is how buying organic cotton will impact you, the environment, animals and laborers. 

is organic cotton vegan and sustainable

Fabric, materials and textiles are things we consume often. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on organic cotton.

You are going to learn all about organic cotton’s vegan and sustainability status. Additionally, the following info will include organic cotton advantages and disadvantages for your home, whether organic cotton is a natural fiber, biodegradable…or perhaps even destructive!

After learning if organic cotton is vegan and sustainable you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.

This post is all about learning if organic cotton is vegan and sustainable.

All About Organic Cotton + It’s Impact On Animals, People, Planet

HOME

Durability: pros organic cotton is strong, easier to clean than wool, machine washable | cons organic cotton may bleed, fade, shrink, wrinkle

Versatility: pros organic cotton is hypoallergenic, absorbent, breathable, wicks away sweat, can be good for sensitive skin, dries quickly, soft, versatile, used to make clothing, bedding, t-shirts, jeans, underwear, socks, bath towels, pillow cases, curtains, etc., safe and healthier than non-organic or synthetic bedding

Affordability: cons organic cotton is may be expensive, prices will vary

Organic cotton is…

ENVIRONMENT

Fiber source: natural, organic cotton is a natural fiber, it is a white fibrous substance that surrounds the seeds of a tropical and subtropical plant that grows soft, fluffy fibers

Biodegradable: yes, organic cotton is biodegradable, cotton is one of the most biodegradable fabrics there is, especially if it is 100% cotton, when composting cotton may biodegrade within as little as 1 week but average decomposition times are around 5 months

Destruction: low, organic cotton production is relatively sustainable, uses less water than non-organic cotton due to better quality soil, grown without harmful chemicals, pesticides or insecticides, does not contain any synthetic chemicals, metals or genetically engineered substances, organic cotton doesn’t destroy ecosystems and is known to improve soil quality

Organic cotton is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none

Harms: none

Indirectly kills or harms: none, organic cotton does not use harmful pesticides, which spares ecosystems and wildlife from exposure to toxic chemicals 

Organic cotton is…

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    12/05/2022 02:49 am GMT
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    11/30/2022 02:18 pm GMT
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    12/05/2022 12:04 am GMT

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, many workers die every year, unsanitary housing, lack of safe drinking water, women workers in India (the world’s second highest cotton producer) report sexually harassment and rape

Living conditions: poor, forced adult and child labor in Uzbekistan (one of the largest cotton exporters in the world), every year the government orders schools to close and enforces millions of adults and children to devote all efforts for the nation to meet their cotton field quotas, the government threatens, detains and tortures activists who want to help the situation, the government refuses to end forced labor, similar issues regarding child labor occur in India, several hundred thousand children must give up their education to work in the cotton industry

Wages: low, in Uzbekistan there is little or no pay, if adults refuse work, they may lose employment, pensions and child benefits

Organic cotton…

What are organic cotton uses?

Organic cotton uses include making a large variety of items, including but not limited to, woven fabrics, clothing, bed sheets, towels, underwear, home decor and much more.

What are some ethical vegan fashion brands that use organic cotton?

Ambiletics, Arsayo, Bhumi, CasaGIN, Caur, Dk Active, GARY MASH, Harvest + Mill and Jackalo are ethical vegan fashion brands that use organic cotton.

What is the material abbreviation for cotton?

CO is the material abbreviation for cotton (non organic or organic).

organic cotton is somewhat durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is organic cotton durable or delicate? Organic is somewhat durable and long lasting when cared for properly.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. 

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

organic cotton is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Is organic cotton eco friendly and sustainable? Yes, organic cotton is sustainable.

Materials from animals are natural fibers and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

Natural fibers like cotton are actually really harmful IF they are not organic. How? Cotton seeds are often GMOs that require pesticides, which are extremely toxic! In fact, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides go to non-organic, GMO cotton farming every year. The chemicals degrade soil and pollute water as well as poison cotton pickers.

Wow! â€¦So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.

Vegan and sustainable fashion near you is easier than ever with this: Vegan Clothing Brands Per Country List

organic cotton is vegan.

vegan-material

Is organic cotton vegan? Yes, organic cotton is vegan.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. If the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming.

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

organic cotton is a material that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is organic cotton a material that has known labor issues? At this time, there are reports of worker mistreatment regarding non organic cotton farming.

Many workers die every year from exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsanitary housing and lack of safe drinking water. There are reports from women workers in India (the world’s second highest cotton producer) regarding sexual harassment and rape.

There is adult and child labor in Uzbekistan (one of the largest cotton exporters in the world). Every year the government orders schools to close and enforces millions of adults and children to devote all efforts for the nation to meet their cotton field quotas. The government threatens, detains and tortures activists who want to help the situation. The government refuses to end forced labor. Similar issues regarding child labor occur in India, several hundred thousand children must give up their education to work in the cotton industry. In Uzbekistan there is little or no pay, if laborers refuse work, they will lose their employment, pensions and child benefits.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Sleeping organic: organic cotton
PETA: Vegan Fabrics: Organic Cotton
slow fashion: sustainable vs. unsustainable fabrics
Fabric of the world: What are biodegradable fabrics?

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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