It may not come as any surprise that there are harmful substances used in the textile industry and the most publicized example of these substances is Azo Dyes. Azo Dyes have been linked to cancer, although cases are quite rare, scientifically this link exists and regulators in countries like the US and Australia are not so swift to respond, leaving products containing Azo Dyes unrestricted for sale.
Azo Dyes are only one example of a gap between regulators and consumer safety highlighting a need for higher quality control that sets clear standards and enforces them. When it comes to children’s bedding, Oeko-Tex and the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) are examples of such organizations whose aim is to set clear criteria so that products may carry their accreditation.
The Oeko-Tex standard 100 applies to any textile and places safe limits on how much of a specific chemical is permissible to reside on the final product, however, GOTS considers cotton textiles exclusively, and additionally considers ecological and social factors that apply throughout the entire textile supply chain. Here are four key reasons why parents should insist on GOTS.
GOTS is more Stringent OEKO TEX Certification
While choosing OEKO TEX-certified bedding for your kids can definitely go a long way in helping them avoid exposure to harmful chemical dyes, cotton processing chemicals, and residues in bedding materials, these protections don’t go far enough. Even though OEKO TEX certification ensures full compliance with current US and EU chemical hygienic standards, GOTS goes further. Much further.
GOTS addresses the issue of herbicides and pesticides used in growing cotton which is then processed into kids’ bedding fibers.
“More chemical pesticides are used for cotton than for any other crop. Cotton accounts for 16 percent of global insecticide releases. 60 percent of the world’s cotton is used for clothing and another 35 percent for home furnishing.”
GOTS certification ensures that any bedding for children that carries the GOTS seal does not use cotton grown with the aid of chemical pesticides and non-natural weedkillers.
Since cotton plants need a tremendous amount of pest control and weed management, the switch to more natural, less harsh methods carries a heavy impact not only to kids’chemical exposure levels but also to the workers directly exposed to them.
Buying GOTS Certified Kids’ Bedding Helps the Environment
Large swaths of the developing world suffer from environmental degradation because of cash crop or monoculture agricultural practices. From slash and burn land clearing to felling old growth rain forest tracts, there are many farm practices that put the world’s ecological balance on edge. One of these is the diversion of rivers for cash crop agricultural purposes.
Diverting rivers causes massive disruptions to local wildlife and creates ecological imbalances as cash crops displace plant diversity. When water is diverted from rivers for cash crop cultivation (also called “blue water”), a higher percentage of this water is left to evaporate. Much of the water is also lost due to inefficient irrigation. This ever increasing need for more and more water for agricultural uses leads to even more rivers and streams being diverted-and more water loss and waste.
The Aral Sea resides in land locked Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Once upon a time, it was the 4th largest saline lake in the world, which has now totally evaporated due to irrigation to feed thirsty cotton crops.
When you buy GOTS certified bedding for your children, you help push cotton producers to use more ‘green water’ or rain water. Certified organic cotton products use up to 91% less water from environmentally-damaging sources like river diversion irrigation. As more consumers buy rainwater-fed organic cotton,this acts as a powerful market incentive for cotton producers to change the irrigation methods.
Buying Truly Organic Cotton Products Helps Reduce Carbon Emissions
Non-organic cotton produced using heavily mechanized intensive mass farming techniques are very dependent on fossil fuels which release tons of carbon into the air. Worse yet, modern large scale cotton farming leads to deforestation and crop monocultures. These spell bad news for the environment because there’s less vegetation to trap carbon. Plus, the massive and deep tilling done by heavy tractors doesn’t lock carbon into the soil.
Truly organic cotton growing practices, like those endorsed by GOTS standards, ensure mixed-crop culture. Farmers grow different types of crops which leads to more carbon capture. Also, these cultivators use methods that end up locking a lot more carbon into the soil. The overall carbon footprint of fully-certified GOTS organic producers is much smaller than that of modern heavily mechanized large scale growers.
Buying Truly Organic Cotton Protects Growers’ Health
Even if kids’ bedding made from ‘regularly produced’ cotton is stripped clean of pesticide and herbicide residues, growing this type of cotton places growers’ health in jeopardy. When you buy truly organic bedding made only from purely organic fibers, growers don’t have to use harsh herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. They suffer less from skin burns and other exposure. These chemicals are very toxic and pose long-term health issues. By buying organic, you not only protect the health of your children but also the health and well-being of cotton growers and farm workers.
“The UN estimates that the health costs of pesticides across sub-Saharan Africa amount to an enormous $4.4 billion a year.”
Wriggly Toes is a brand committed to creating fun and colorful bedding designs and focuses on creating products that are safe for children and their full ecological footprint. The entire range of Organic Kids’ Bedding meets both GOTS and Oeko-Tex standards and comes with a bed time story to read to your little ones. Your product choices as a consumer have along term impact not only on the health of your loved ones but also on the health and well-being of the planet. Choose organic and go GOTS!
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Sources: Cotton Pesticides Statistics, Pesticide Concerns in Cotton