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Every woman will confirm that one of the best ways to improve her mood is to go shopping. Better yet, when the debit in her bank account does not grow with a growing number of her shopping bags. So miraculously healed mood, intensifies the calm conscience. Does it really…?

Every woman will confirm that one of the best ways to improve her mood is to go shopping. Better yet, when the debit in her bank account does not grow with a growing number of her shopping bags. So miraculously healed mood, intensifies the calm conscience. Does it really…?

To understand the problem, we must know its origin

I am a conscious buyer and have always thought that to buy well it is enough to enter the shop and read the labels. But when I had to choose between viscose or cotton, cotton always prevailed. It turned out, however, that the wonderful cotton is not that wonderful after all. At least it is not so obvious.

Over 300 million people live off it

Cotton is grown in about 80 countries. It is the third most important and widespread type of crops in the world, just after cereal and soy. More than 100 countries are involved in its exports and imports. Global cotton production amounts to over $30 billion a year. Over 100 million farmers live off cotton growing. If we add up their families, people hired for work, like clearing, transport, storage and processing of cotton, it proves that cotton production is a source of subsistence not for 100 but for more than 300 million people.

Fatal plant

When we look at this plant, we immediately feel a delicate and soft T-shirt on out body. But we are not aware what tragic impact cotton production has on the natural environment and what consequences it causes to our health. It is difficult to grow and very demanding a plant, which requires a huge amount of agricultural chemicals and water to bring the proper yield. To stimulate our imagination - to produce 1 kg of raw cotton, it needs using up to 29,000 liters of water, which returns to the natural environment along with on average 20 percent of the dyes used to color the cotton. This allows 40 to 50 thousand tons of different substances, mostly corrosive and carcinogenic, to enter the groundwater each year. In the case of chemicals, about 25% of insecticides and more than 10% of all pesticides applied in the world are used to produce cotton. The consequences of such behavior are terrifying, as the toxins inhaled by the plantation workers and long hours of work in intense sunlight cause poisoning that can lead to memory loss, confusion and even death. Every year, in the developing countries 20 000 people die in result of being affected by these substances. Another million of people are hospitalized with the symptoms of poisoning, pain and dizziness, including vomiting, breathing difficulties and coordination problems.

Money over education

A bigger problem that comes up when producing cotton is the cost reduction policy. One way to reduce the costs is to force children to work! Boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 10 are deprived of their choice and often in inhumane conditions, work for free to pay back their parent’s debts or to earn a symbolic dollar. They oftentimes work long 12 hours a day. In horrible heat, on their knees, they pick the cotton flowers by hands, or they check if the crops were attacked by pests. They are also involved in applying fertilizers and pesticides, which causes serious illnesses for their young organisms. My outrage becomes enormous when I hear that they are beaten or sexually abused by their supervisors.

A price for US subsidies

Currently, the largest exporter of cotton in the world is the United States. This is due to the agricultural policy adopted there in 1999. It provides the US farmers with high subsidies in form of guaranteed export contracts, preferential loans to farmers, subsidies to cotton producers when the US prices exceed the European ones, and even direct subsidies to farmlands, subject to crop areas. The support of the US government to the cotton producers equals up to $4 billion a year. The figures clearly show that US policy has taken over the source of income of most small farmers from West Africa. It also affected other countries where producing cotton stopped being profitable to such an extent that the substantial majority of the plantations became insolvent. To sum up, if the subsidies for US planters were abolished, the income of 10 million small African farmers and their families would increase by 8 to 10%. Generated profits would allow for meeting their basic needs, including reducing illiteracy or paying for medical care.

Cotton – to buy or not to buy?

Fortunately, our problem has a solution because instead of conventional cotton, we can buy organic cotton. It is manufactured strictly in compliance with the special regulations, prescribed by the ecological crops certification bodies. The regulations impose directives which prohibit the use of pesticides (they are replaced by chilli pepper, medicago, garlic, mint or lavender, whereas whey for example is used as the fertilizer). They also control the use of water (on building rooftops in special tanks is stored rainwater). In addition, profits from these crops reach the local communities and support the local markets. The absolute advantage of such cotton is its quality, which is not reduced by chemical processes with the use of harmful dyes. This makes it safe for our skin and definitely lasts longer.

We wear Fair Trade

We now know that organic cotton gives us not only comfort and convenience, but it also cares for our health and the natural environment. We need to keep in mind that growing the plant ecologically and manufacturing organic cotton products take place in conditions free from exploitation and slave labor, i.e.: under Fair Trade rules.

Edyta Psut

I`m happily married mother of two children. I`m always ensured a healthy lifestyle for my family. I enjoy being an active member of her community and works closely with local charities.


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