Ode Magazine has a beautifully photographed story this month on cotton in India — on conventional, pesticide-laden cotton in India. The farmer suicides continued at a rate of one every eight hours as the photographer was visiting. Expensive pesticides and genetically modified seeds (which mean they can’t save seed for planting next year) have meant soaring costs, leaving the farmers in debt they can’t overcome.
Add to this the rising cost of water, decreasing soil quality, health problems caused by chemical exposure and the absense of other jobs in the rural areas, and it’s easy to see why India’s farmers are desperate.
They don’t see any other way out. The situation is not better in other cotton growing countries.
At London Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago, Kathrine Hamnett (known for many slogan T-shirts in the 1980s) did not show a new collection. She showed a film on the impact of the global cotton industry’s pesticide use. The film is part of the Environmental Justice Foundation’s Pick Your Cotton Carefully campaign. Why whitewash cotton? The true of child labor, slavery, and health and environmental degradation is nasty.
- White Gold: The True Cost of Cotton – short film with Uzbekistan focus. (The You Tube link works better for me.)
- Pick Your Cotton Carefully PSA. Quick wake-up call to middle class.
- The Deadly Chemicals in Cotton. Report.
Cotton is a serious choice, not a pleasant way to make yourself feel good about your environmental choices. When you choose cotton, organic cotton is essential to the well being of other humans. Pick your cotton carefully.
Ode could only manage to list a couple of high-profile celebrity designers using clean cotton. You can find many more organic sources than that.
Ask for organic cotton. DEMAND organic cotton.
As Kathrine Hamnet said, “It’s not about choosing something else, it’s about choosing the right cotton.”