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Australia’s Cotton Industry

We all want the very best for our little ones and I believe organic to be the gold-star option. So when it came to sourcing fabric for our small mum-and-dad label Rowdy Roo, naturally I turned to organic cotton. Breathable natural fibres, free of pesticides, heavy metals and chlorine bleaching - it’s what I want for my babies and I know it’s what many parents want for their own. So you can imagine my shock when I discovered not one of the 1500 cotton farms in Australia was certified to produce an organic crop.

According to Cotton Australia, the industry’s peak body, local growers believe it’s not economically viable to produce pesticide free cotton in Australia. “A small number of Australian cotton growers have experimented with organic cotton in the past, but it proved to be uneconomical to grow and has therefore inhibited it from entering long-term commercial production in Australia,” according to Cotton Australia. 

“Organic production typically requires more human labour, land and cost input than conventional cotton production (source: European Union, 2014 and ICAC, 2006).” Only about one per cent of cotton produced globally is certified organic.

The worlds largest producer of organic cotton is India which is where we source our cotton for Rowdy Roo. While I understand and emphasise with the challenges experienced by Australian cotton growers, sourcing cotton was important to us. 

Textile Exchange is a non-profit devoted to textile sustainability. They have created the resource aboutorganiccotton.org to inform consumers of the benefits of choosing organic cotton. According to them, choosing organic cotton doesn’t just benefit you by reducing your family’s exposure to pesticides but it also has flow on effects for the environment and the people involved in its farming and manufacturing processes.

“It doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 88% less water and 62% less energy. Conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides,” says the Textile Exchange.
“In 2015 alone, by growing organic instead of conventional cotton, farmers potentially saved 218 billion litres of water, 288.7 kilowatts of energy and 92.5 million kilograms of carbon monoxide.”

“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.”

The Global Organic Textile Standard is the world leading certification for materials made from organic fibres. This strict standard is applied from the moment the cotton is harvested until the garment is completed. Our garments also meet the OKEO-TEX Standard 100 which applies to labelling and accessories on the clothing. A lot of thought and research went into our decision on where to source our cotton. Consumers are more aware than ever about the origins of their purchases and our Australian owned and designed label is committed to transparency.

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