You’d think that buying cotton or 100% cotton flannel sheets would mean you’re putting a ‘natural’ product on your bed…well, yes and no!
Let’s start by looking at the way the cotton itself is grown.
How most cotton is grown
– Synthetic chemical fertilizers are used to encourage the plants to grow.
– Chemical pesticides are used to keep cotton-eating bugs at bay.
– Chemical growth regulators are used to get a crop of the same size for easy harvesting and
– Chemical defoliants are used for the same reason.
To produce one pound of cotton, it takes a third of a pound of chemicals.
While we’re really depressing you, let’s look at a few more facts about the production of cotton.
– 4% of all the arable soil in the entire world is used to grow cotton. That’s a huge area!
– Every year, 24% of all insecticides and 11% of all pesticides used in the entire world are used on just cotton crops!
– 3,000,000 people suffer with poisoning from pesticides every year. 20,000 of them die.
– Over 45% of all the cotton grown in the United States is genetically engineered.
– During the production of a regular cotton garment, over 8,000 synthetic chemicals are routinely used.
This may sound a lot of chemicals but chemical intrusion doesn’t end with the growing phase. Just a few of the treatments that fabric may receive are:
– Moth resistance
– Fire retardant
– ‘Easy care’
Dyes used on the cotton often contain heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.
As if that wasn’t bad enough…
Recent scientific studies have found that the cotton used in bedding may have a heavy dose of pesticides in the form of built-up residues from the cultivation stage. On continuous use, these residues may be absorbed into human skin and adversely affect health.
Babies may be more at risk from health problems due to their higher metabolism and lower body weight – so choosing organic baby bedding may help to lower that risk.
What makes flannel sheets ‘organic’?
Flannels that can call themselves organic are usually made from cotton which has been grown without the use of any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators or defoliants – synthetic or otherwise.
The resulting fabric isn’t treated in any way which is why it can be a little ‘stiff’ before it’s washed and dried.
It’s also not dyed. This gives rise to the characteristic ‘cream’ color’. This has traditionally put some people off organic bedding – but a very high price is paid for the pure white bedding that we’re used to!
How can I be sure the sheets really are organic?
Various certification bodies exist and they set down precise standards for productions, storage, processing, handling and marketing. If a product meets all of the criteria, it will be awarded a label from that body to say that the product is truly organic.
Just bear in mind that the label will only certify that the product has been made in an ecologically sound manner and is not a claim regarding its’ quality.
Another way to check is to see if the company who made the sheets is recognized by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).