what is organic cotton?

Organic cotton is cotton that is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards. Its production sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people by using natural processes rather than artificial inputs. Importantly organic cotton farming does not allow the use of toxic chemicals or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Instead, it combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote a good quality of life for all involved.

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Reduces environmental footprint

No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn't damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy. Conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides.

Environmental Benefits →

Promotes safe work & better livelihoods

Growing organic cotton keeps farmers and their families safe. They are not exposed to toxic chemicals in the field or through their food and water supply. It also means farmers grow more than one crop which supplements their food and income. 

Social & Economic Benefits → 

Model for the future

By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. But organic cotton is 80% rain-fed, which reduces pressure on local water sources. The absence of chemicals also means that water is cleaner and safer. Cotton is often grown in water-scarce areas using irrigation and it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a conventional cotton t-shirt.

Impacts our food system

Organic cotton is grown from organic cotton seeds. Cotton seed oil is used in a variety of food products such as cookies, chips and vegetable oil, and is also fed to livestock. So while cotton fiber is not something we put in our body, the by-product can make its way into our diets.


Fair price for sustainability

When you buy organic cotton you are investing in water conservation, cleaner air, better soil and farmer livelihoods. The price for organic cotton is therefore sometimes, but not always, higher.  However, with demand on the rise, more choices will become available.

You can make a difference

Caring for the world and the people we share it with is a life choice. Choosing organic cotton is part of this choice. In 2014, 26 million metric tonnes of cotton was produced globally, much of it for the apparel industry. Organic cotton makes up less than 1% of this. By choosing organic over conventional cotton you have the purchasing power to influence brands, manufacturers and even farmers. So let’s change this number.

Organic By Choice and I Choose Organic take the viewer on a visual journey through the benefits of organic cotton from farm to fashion. Many of the benefits will be easily recognizable, such as healthy lifestyles for all. Others may be more surprising such as the protection of wildlife, waterways, and forests.


Organic Cotton is used everywhere

Organic cotton can be found in everything, from clothing, footwear and home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding), to children's products (clothing, toys, diapers), personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs and ear swabs), and even stationery and note cards. 

brands supporting organic cotton

Many brands are now offering organic cotton. Top supporters of organic cotton are shown below.  

League Table →


When you choose organic cotton instead of conventional, for each piece of clothing you can potentially save water, energy and carbon emissions. It may not seem like much but start adding up the potential impact you could have made by converting the t-shirts and jeans in your entire wardrobe.

(The estimation above is a collaborative effort - derived from applying average garment weights from G-Star and LCA data from Textile Exchange)

If it is certified to an organic cotton standard you can be sure it's organic

Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable or eco-friendly does not make it organic.  Cotton clothing is only organic if it is certified to an organic cotton standard. 

OCS (Organic Content Standard) provides third party assurance that the organic content in your clothes can be traced back to source, while GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) traces the organic content in your clothes and ensures that it is processed socially and sustainably.

organic cotton: the fashion-forward fabric

Organic cotton is not hippie fashion. Many celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, Alicia Silverstone, Charlize Theron, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Slater and Emily Deschanel wear organic cotton - the list goes on. Many, like Stella McCartnery, Bono and Gypsy Rose have started their own organic cotton collection and others, like Neil Young, have gone as far as to publicly boycott conventional cotton in support for organic.

Today, I have taken the steps to remove sales of non-organic t-shirts and other products that damage the Earth from my concerts and my web stores… I vow to speak up & to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH... ORGANIC COTTON is the wiser option for both the health of people and the environment.
— Neil Young

From "Earth and Protect T-Shirt"

- Neil Young's personal blog, 1 August 2014

I don’t want to wear something on my body that hurts the environment or the people in it... It shocks me that even today only one per cent of cotton produced in the world is Fair Trade and organic.

It’s important to be conscious of what we’re buying and where it comes from. As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful in what we buy.
— Emma Watson

From "Emma Watson models her range for People Tree"

by Hilary Alexander, Telegraph, 1 February 2010