The Benefits of Organic Cotton Bedding for your Baby (and the Planet)
Want the best choice for your baby and the planet? Choose organic.
Read on to get all your burning questions about organic cotton answered, and learn about Kindred’s commitment to always offer Moms bedding made with organic cotton that’s certified by the most stringent global standard. We got you, Mama.
Why is organic cotton better for the environment?
Organic cotton crops use an estimated 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventionally grown cotton. The ethical fashion movement has helped increase awareness of the sheer tonnage of cotton grown and processed for clothes, and it’s time that we apply that consciousness to the home textile industry too, which uses about 35% of the world’s cotton. The massive amount of cotton we use for apparel and home textiles requires significant resources. By choosing organic, we can reduce the climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy used in production— and save water. Organic crops are able to achieve these benefits from strong and healthy soil. By using crop rotation, organic farmers utilize the natural organic compounds in the soil, resulting in less fertilizer and less irrigation.
But there’s more. Conventionally grown cotton uses harmful chemicals that have a severe impact on both human health and the environment. Many insecticides and pesticides used to grow cotton are known carcinogens. Each year, farmers, cotton pickers, and manufacturing plant workers get sick and even die from harvesting and processing chemical-laden crops, including, tragically, infant illnesses from breast milk contamination. Symptoms among cotton harvesters that demonstrate impairment of the nervous system include delayed puberty, blood abnormalities, and acute symptoms such as respiratory problems, dizziness, nausea, and convulsions. What’s more is that neurological impairment is not just affecting a select few. A recent study found that a staggering 42% of non-organic cotton crop farmers reported symptoms of pesticide poisoning in 2017.
Beyond the overwhelmingly dangerous human health impacts, chemicals sprayed on crops affect entire ecosystems and poison lakes, rivers, and waterways by way of dangerous run-off. Conservationists estimate that pesticides were responsible for 67 million bird deaths by the year 2012, which has since grown – the recent New York Time’s article on the harrowing decline of bird populations (scientists say there are an estimated 3 billion fewer birds in North America now compared to 50 years ago), attributed pesticides as a significant culprit.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of poisonous chemicals.
(By the way, if you’re concerned about the bird emergency, which you should be, consider cutting pesticides and weed killer out of your lawn care routine and start incorporating more organic food. Even small steps can help. But for now, back to textiles).
What does GOTS-certified mean?
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the leading international standard for processing organic textiles. It includes strict ecological and social criteria, and in order to receive the GOTS label, producers require independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. Below is some more information about why the GOTS standard is the “gold standard” for textile manufacturing, and why it’s important to consider this label when shopping for organic products. (Not all textiles labeled “organic” mean that they are GOTS-certified!)
The lifecycle lens that GOTS-certification uses is critically important because it covers all steps of the process from harvest to manufacturing. It works like this: in order for any product to earn GOTS-certification, cotton famers who harvested the fiber must be certified according to their own recognized, national organic label (i.e., USDA Organic). Next, organizations and facilities involved in post-harvest all the way up to manufacturing must undergo annual site inspections for quality assurance. The production process must adhere to strict standards surrounding chemical usage, as well as sustainability and social benchmarks. For example, in order for a cotton textile to be GOTS-certified, it can’t just be organically grown. It must also be produced without any chlorine bleach, Azo dyes (which contain carcinogenic compounds), harmful solvents, toxic heavy metals, or formaldehyde, among other restrictions. Further, processing facilities are required to have policies and targets surrounding wastewater discharge levels and responsible methods of discharge. On top of these strict environmental requirements, there are social criteria that must be adhered to as well. Learn more.
Quite simply, GOTS is currently the best standard there is, and if a product is claiming it’s made with organic cotton but doesn’t specify the GOTS-certification, you may want to consider asking the maker a bit more about the certification process.
Is organic cotton better for baby’s skin?
Yes. Many studies have shown that chemical residue from non-organically processed cotton can become trapped in the processed fibers and woven threads.
Some babies with very sensitive skin can experience rashes, but there are other health impacts from using non-organic bedding and clothes too, such as headaches or dizziness. Given that new babies can sleep upwards of 18 hours a day, it’s crucial that they are sleeping on organic mattresses, organic crib sheets, and other bedding that does not contain chemical residue that might irritate the skin, or worse, be absorbed into the nervous system through the skin over time.
Moms should feel good about what they're buying.
It’s for all of these reasons that I made the decision to always use GOTS-certified organic cotton for all of Kindred’s crib sheets and bedding, without exception. This decision goes beyond just making sustainable choices for today. Choosing organic means we’re doing our part to create a healthy and abundant planet for our children, because, after all, they will inherit what we leave behind. I’m a Mom too. And I know how important it is to feel confident that I am giving my babies the best start I can, and feel good about making responsible choices for the planet.