Just as people have become more aware of the chemicals in the foods they eat and the products they wear, they’re also paying more attention to what’s in the bedding they sleep on. Increasingly, organic cotton is the material of choice for sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers.
But what is organic cotton, exactly?
Traditionally, cotton has been produced in one of two ways: grown dryland or irrigated. Dryland cotton relies on rainfall during the summer to grow, whereas irrigated cotton, which is grown in regions where water is in short supply, is fed from rivers or underground sources.
That presents an environmental problem, because cotton requires a lot of water. Extensive irrigation of this thirsty plant contributes to groundwater depletion, and when drainage isn’t managed carefully, it leads to buildup of salts and synthetic fertilizers in important freshwater sources.
Cotton also accounts for as much as 25% of global pesticide use, according to the Organic Trade Association. Conventionally manufactured cotton fabric can come into contact with a range of chemicals and potentially dangerous materials including petroleum-based products, flame retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde. These chemicals can lead to skin irritation and even exacerbate other health issues.
How organic cotton is different
While whether organic cotton uses more or less water is a matter of some debate, what’s not in question is that organic cotton is not genetically modified and contains fewer chemicals than its conventional counterpart. Organic cotton is grown without any chemical insecticides or synthetic fertilizers, meaning it’s better for your health, and the runoff won’t have a negative impact on the environment.
It’s also better for the people who grow and harvest it. Organic cotton often goes hand-in-hand with Fair Trade practices. When you buy Fair Trade goods, you can be sure that they were produced in factories where equipment and working conditions are strictly monitored to ensure workers’ safety, and where manufacturers commit to providing sustainable livelihoods for workers and their communities. Raw materials are also traced from their origins to their destination so that these standards are upheld during every step of the production process.
See Saatva’s Innerspring Mattress with Organic Cotton Cover
Saatva Classic Innerspring
Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.
Organic cotton performs better
Because organic cotton hasn’t been exposed to chemicals, you may notice that it feels softer and is more breathable than conventional cotton. It’s also hypoallergenic and much less likely to cause irritation. The Organic Cotton Initiative, a joint campaign between the Soil Association and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), states that organic cotton fibers typically produce better quality yarns than conventional ones, which may result in more durable, longer-lasting goods.
To be sure you are purchasing organic cotton, look for the GOTS badge on the packaging. Products that have the GOTS symbol must be made with at least 95% certified organic fibers.