How and why you need to be more conscious when buying cotton products

How to be more conscious when buying cotton products

{ I recently came across Know The Origin and this cotton tee and dress had to come live with me – made from fairtrade and organic cotton }

I’ve come to realise that I actually really like cotton. Not because of its sustainability attributes or because it’s particularly durable. But because it’s a natural fibre, because of the way it feels and looks and because of its accessibility (even organic cotton seems to have become more widely available). The reason cotton has such a bad rep in the eco fashion community though is because it takes a lot of water to grow (and for conventional cotton it also takes a heavy amount of chemicals – but that’s for another discussion) and it takes water during the production to make the actual tee.

In fact, it takes 2700 litres of water to make a single t-shirt. That’s equivalent to the amount of water you need to drink in 3 years. 3 years’ worth of drinking water to make one of the cotton t-shirts you have in your closet. How many do you have?

One of the reasons why cotton requires so much water is simply that it’s a thirsty crop. Some of it can also be contributed to lack of knowledge on the farmer’s part – they might irrigate it more than it needs to be. Furthermore, the production process requires water and then there’s the washing you do at home.

How to be more conscious when buying cotton products

{ I always look for tees in the menswear department – I prefer the clean cut and the thicker quality they tend to }

Through the years, I’ve come to rely on a few things when buying cotton products that make it a more conscious process and which helps me to only buy things I really love:

  1. I ask myself if I really need this new item? Can I find it second hand instead – or even better, do I already own something similar? – I know this is boring and won’t help get you your shopping fix, but it’s better for the planet and thus better for yourself in the long run.
  2. I look for alternative materials such as Tencel®, hemp or linen – they all require way less water to grow and produce
  3. I choose organic cotton, since most of the organic cotton is rain fed.
  4. And I always look for certifications such as GOTS or Fairtrade or in the very least, that it’s been sourced as BCI
  5. I choose quality over quantity and will rather pay more for one tee that’ll last me several years, than buy five that will go out of shape after the first wash.

And remember to take good care of your cotton product. How often do you really need to wash it? Fill up the washing machine when you do decide it’s time and cut out the drying and ironing unless absolutely, crucially necessary. This might help you save 1/3 of your t-shirts carbon footprint.




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Hella Lynggaard

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