Cotton impacts global eco systems
-and the food in your supermarket.
  The good news: 70% of EILEEN FISHER's
cotton is organic.
  • Worldwide, 9.4 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow conventional cotton each year. Cotton accounts for 40 percent of world fiber, but only a small fraction -0.5 percent- is organic.

  • Ground up as meal, cotton seeds (and their pesticides) enter our food supply as a common feed for cattle and poultry. Cotton seed oil-cheap, neutral tasting and cholesterol free- is used in many foods. Including chips, mayonnaise, bread, cereal and frozen desserts.
  • Organic Cotton comes to you as part of a balanced ecosystem. Soil is enriched with compost and organic ingredients, creating healthy plants that attract fewer pests.

  • Farmers are not exposed to chemical sprays. Instead of using herbicides and pesticides, they pull weeds, trap bugs, rotate crops and use companion plantings such as corn to attract beneficial bugs and lure away pests.
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Go Deeper:    

Why does organic
cotton cost more and other
excellent questions.

Field to Factory:
Conventional vs. organic,
step by step.

Our Eco Collection
The Peru Chronicles: Our Fair Trade Journey
  The Trailer (2:00 min)   Why Organic Cotton?
Episode 1 (3:54 min)
  The Alternative Supply Chain
Episode 2 (2:48 min)
  The Fair Trade Difference
Episode 3 (3:22 min)
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Is wearing organic cotton clothing better for my health?

Your skin won't notice the difference between conventional and organic cotton but your dinner plate might, since cotton seed meal is commonly fed to cattle and poultry. Cotton seed oil is found in everything from bread to frozen desserts.

Why does organic cotton cost more?

It is labor intensive to grow and requires skilled management-observing where bugs are attacking, learning how to work with the ecosystem. When you buy organic cotton, you are investing in healthy soil, healthy workers, clean water and a healthy food supply chain.


How can I tell if an organic cotton garment has been dyed and manufactured in a responsible way?

Fabric dying and finishing can involve heavy metals and toxins such as formaldehyde. Look for certifications such as these:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard certifies organic fiber as well as finished fabric, vouching for responsible chemical and water use as well as waste processing.

  • Bluesign Technologies certifies energy, water, chemistry and emissions at processing facilities.

  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certifies that finished fabrics are free from more than one hundred harmful substances.
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SEEDS   Typically treated with fungicides or insecticides.
Genetically modified (GM) seeds used for 87%
of US cotton. Patent laws require farmers to buy new GM seeds every year, increasing their costs.
  Natural, untreated. Not genetically modified,
which means there are no patent laws
prohibiting farmers from collecting, saving, and
replanting seeds.
SOIL MANAGEMENT   Monoculture (consistent planting of one crop)
depletes nutrients in soil, synthetic fertilizers necessary.
  Crop rotation and composting promote soil health. Organic matter retains moisture.
WEED AND INSECT MANAGEMENT   Spraying of pesticides. The five most commonly used pesticides are either suspected
carcinogens or neurotoxins.
  Healthy soil creates stronger plants that are more
resistant to pests and disease. Companion crops
lure harmful insects or attract beneficial bugs.
HARVESTING   Defoliation with toxic chemicals.   Natural defoliation from freezing temperatures or water management.
WELL-BEING   High risk of worker health issues. Fertilizers
and pesticides pollute water, soil and food supply.
  Healthier environment for farm workers. Cotton
byproducts—plant waste, ground seeds for
livestock feed, oil for processed food—are not
contaminated with chemicals.
WHITENING   May use chlorine bleach, which releases toxic
byproducts into the environment.
  Nontoxic oxygen bleaches such as hydrogen
DYEING AND FINISHING   May contain toxic compounds. Chemical
processes meet government regulations but
may or may not meet an eco standard (see
  No toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic
solvents. Chemicals meet basic requirements on
toxicity and biodegradability.
PRICE   Initial cost cheaper because doesn�t include
impact on planet and people.
  Initial cost is more expensive. Consumers make a
long-term investment in the environment and
human health.
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