Organic Cotton: It’s cropping up everywhere, from H&M to the Gap. This is a good thing: conventionally grown cotton packs a huge pesticide punch and is one of the most chemical-laden crops in the world. “Supporting the organic cotton industry is a big green step,” says Rob Grand, owner of Grassroots Environmental Products. “It’s not just your own health you’re supporting when you buy organic cotton but also an economy and a method of agriculture that’s good for the planet.”
But if the organic cotton you purchase isn’t also assured to be fair trade, or is processed using conventional dyes, or treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde to keep it from wrinkling on its trip overseas, that cute T-shirt is still leaving a sizeable footprint on the earth. So be forewarned that labels won’t tell you everything and that you have to dig deeper to get the whole story. Whenever possible, try to buy organic cotton in the shades it’s naturally grown in: cream, pale green, and light brown. Also look for garments that are coloured using natural or vegetable-based dyes or bear credible labels (such as Eco-Cert) indicating the product is certified organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly.