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Organic Cotton vs Conventional Cotton

Why Does it Matter?

Cotton accounts for almost a half of the world's fiber needs. Unfortunately, much of the world’s cotton is grown using toxic chemicals. And, suboptimal farming and manufacturing practices are employed when producing conventional cotton which are not environmentally friendly or socially responsible. The use of organic cotton over conventional cotton chips away at these practices, and in addition to having a social and environmental impact, using organic cotton ensures that the fabric touching your skin (or your baby’s skin) is not imparting any chemicals in the process. The following characteristics define how organic cotton compares to conventional cotton: environmental impact, production methods, cost, and quality of the finished product.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or other toxic chemicals and is not exposed to chemicals after the growth process. Instead, organic cotton growers emphasize natural, biological methods, which have far less impact on the environment. These organic farming methods include crop rotation, cover crops, organic fertilizers, beneficial insects, and human labor for weed control. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton is grown in many countries, with the leading producers being China, India, and Turkey, and other countries producing on a smaller scale, such as Egypt, Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States. In the U.S., Texas is the largest organic cotton producing state.

Conventional Cotton

Conventional cotton production accounts for nearly 1/4 of the world's insecticide use while comprising only about 3% of farmland. In the U.S. alone, it takes about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt. Conventional cotton requires intensive water irrigation and synthetic fertilizers and its growing practices cause soil loss due to predominantly mono-crop culture. Conventional cotton seeds are also treated with fungicides and insecticides. Many of the seeds are of the genetically modified organism (GMO) variety. Organic cotton, however, uses untreated, non-GMO seeds. Conventional cotton production employs herbicides to defoliate the plants and make picking easier. Harvesting machinery compacts the ground and impacts soil productivity. In contrast, organic cotton production often involves handpicking - no chemicals, defoliation, or machinery. Conventional cotton relies on a number of potentially harmful chemicals for scouring, washing, and leaching. These chemicals include chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, alkylphenoloxylate (APEO), and ethylenediamine tetra-acetate (EDTA). In contrast, organic cotton processing uses natural spinning oils, potato starch, and other natural compounds. No chlorine is used.

 Fabric Quality

The quality of organically grown cotton is better than conventionally grown cotton because the organic cotton fibers are not treated with harsh chemicals, such as chlorine bleach and formaldehyde that can wear down the fibers, making organic cotton more durable and softer than conventional cotton. Organic cotton fabric is free of allergens and chemicals contained in chemically grown and processed textiles, and do not therefore cause any allergy or irritation when it comes into contact with sensitive skin, such as a baby’s skin.


Organic cotton is more expensive than conventional cotton because its production takes more time, skill, and hands-on labor.

BROOKLYN BORN's Commitment

We commit to continuing to support organic farming practices, using certified organic farms and factories, and producing certified organic product. To ensure we are using certified organic cotton defined by the USDA's National Organic Program, we require certificates issued by an accredited third party certification body. Certificates are issued to farms that follow organic farming practices and to factories that process organic cotton fibers separately from conventionally grown cotton. Our organic cotton sheets and blankets are compliant with the global organic textile standard, and we will continue to hold the same standard as we expand into other cotton product lines.​