A few years ago I was taking this intense eco-science class at CUNY Graduate Center and ended up writing a mini-thesis on the cotton industry and the struggle of farmers to switch to organic due to competition, technical issues and US subsidies. Cotton is one of those crops that farmers use a ton of pesticides to grow (25% of the world’s pesticides), not to mention that in the US dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed in order to better compete with other country’s cotton productions. Not only are these harsh toxins in cotton products, but the process of growing them endangers the lives of cotton farmers and surrounding communities because the chemicals seep into their bodies, water and food supplies.
Even though at times it is unclear whether organic is always really the best option, when it comes to cotton it’s safe to say it’s the best option ethically and at the very least it’s environmentally safer. Additionally, organic cotton tends to be softer and more durable due to longer fibers.
As you can probably tell, I’m pretty gung ho about sticking to organic cotton products as much as possible, especially for babies, who have very delicate skin and like to suck on everything! Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way as well as some great organic cotton products.
•Bedding: Organic crib mattresses are pretty expensive at $250+, but babies spend most of their early lives sleeping. Another option would be to pair a more affordable mattress with an organic cotton mattress pad & sheeting. Before the baby comes, air out the mattress for a few weeks to release any toxins and then add the pad and bedding.
•Clothing: Stores like H&M, American Apparel and Target carry affordable organic baby clothes, but for anything that is not organic you can wash your child’s clothes in a non-toxic detergent before they wear them to release some of the toxins and soften them up. The same goes for inorganic bedding & gear. (Used versions are a great option as they have probably released any toxins already.) Beware of brand name detergent companies making “Green” products as many times these are still filled with chemicals. Opt instead for products like Method, Dr. Bronner’s and Meyer’s. It may be more expensive, but it’s probably much more concentrated and longer lasting.
Under the Nile Organic Cotton Monkey, $13 at Under the Nile.
Halo Sleepsack Blanket, $25 at Halo Innovations.
ErgoBaby Organic Cotton Sport Infant & Toddler Carrier, $118 at Amazon.
Serena & Lily Organic Maggie Crib Set, $275 at Serena & Lily. (They’re having a sale! 20% off sheeting.)