What is the difference between cotton and organic cotton?

Cotton is the most commonly used fabric for producing clothing, but in general not very durable.

You can imagine that huge amounts of cotton are needed worldwide. Cotton is a natural fibre that comes from the seeds of the cotton plant. That’s why 40 percent of all clothing produced worldwide is made of cotton. It seems to be a good raw material for clothing. But a quarter of all pesticides in global agriculture are used to grow cotton. Making one pair of jeans produces about ten kilos of CO2 emissions. Chemical pesticides are used to prevent crop failure. These chemicals not only poison the environment, but also the farmers who come into contact with them.

In Texas you will find the world’s largest cotton plantation, where eighty percent of the cotton is genetically modified. The film The True Cost shows that more and more farmers in Texas are dying young from cancer. You can also see that dozens of children are born every year on the cotton plantations in India with serious handicaps, because the soil and their parents are so polluted by chemical pesticides.

Organic cotton

The difference between regular cotton and organic cotton is therefore that no artificial fertilizer and harmful chemical pesticides are used in the cultivation of organic cotton. As a result, farmers do not suffer any physical damage and there is no depletion of the soil. When growing organic cotton, the use of chemicals to facilitate the machine picking of the cotton is not allowed. That is why the cotton is picked manually. On the other hand, the productivity of organic cotton is 50% lower than that of regular cotton. This means that more land is needed to grow the same amount of fibres.


Garments made of organic cotton can often be recognized by a label found on the washing label on the inside of a garment or on the hangtag on the garment. It is difficult to trace where the regular cotton comes from in a garment, which is why it is nice to choose organic cotton garments with hallmarks such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Fairtrade cotton and BCI (Better Cotton Initiative).