The movement toward organic products has gained significant traction in the food market, and it’s now gaining traction in additional markets, too; just look at apparel, as well as everyday items like wipes and hygiene products. So why is there a renewed interest in organic products now?
Organic Cotton, Defined
First, a refresher on organic products: while there are many differing definitions of what is required to be considered as an organic product around the world, all global certifying bodies would agree that the products should be grown with the use of organically approved pesticides or herbicides. Additionally, the seed used to grow the product should be from a non-GMO seed (non-genetically modified seed).
A Slow Shift Toward Organic
Today, most grocery stores in the U.S. have integrated special sections for their organic produce and dairy selections. In fact, some stores only have organic produce. This movement to everyday products has accelerated due to consumer demand for organic products that are being ingested.
In the past several years, we have seen many new products on the shelves in pharmacies and grocery stores that contain organic cotton going into all forms of hygiene, particularly feminine care products. Tampons, panty liners, and pads made from organic cotton can now be found in most stores, with several brands to choose from. Additionally, organic feminine care products can be bought online.
The Organic Cotton Advantages
As noted earlier, organic products are grown with GMO-free seed with only approved pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides used during their growth cycle. Organic farming practices lead to less fuel and energy use, which creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. Most approved pesticides and herbicides also provide safer working conditions for the farmers and their employees. Additionally, most farmers growing organic cotton use far less water.
The Consumer, As Always, Will Decide
Currently, less than 1% of the cotton grown in the U.S. receives an organic rating. It costs more to grow cotton organically than it does to grow nonorganic cotton. The consumer will ultimately determine if the incremental cost difference is worth it to them—but the continued growth of organic cotton would appear to say yes. If consumers continue to demand organic cotton products, the U.S. farmers will continue to convert more acreage toward organic cotton.
In the end, consumers should read the label to determine where and how the organic cotton is being used in a particular product. Certainly, women and babies with sensitive skin should consider organic cotton as a great option for consideration. As long as consumers are willing to pay a premium, organic cotton products will see steady growth in the marketplace.
It is important to note that at Barnhardt Natural Fibers Group, we produce both organic and traditional cotton (nonorganic cotton). The nonorganic cotton that we purify is free of any residual pesticides or herbicides, as well as any remaining DNA markers from the GMO seed. That means it’s considered safe for any and all nonwoven applications, including hygiene products. To learn more, check out our previous “Non-Purified and Purified Genetically Modified Cotton (GMO)” post.