When Organic Cotton Isn’t That Organic

Go Green. Eco-Friendly. Organic. These are all major buzzwords in society’s current vernacular. Today, more and more t-shirt companies are offering organic cotton t-shirts to their customers. Selling organic cotton t-shirts capitalize on the popular eco-friendly trend as well as giving the company the impression that they are environmentally conscious.

Are You Being Duped?

In 2015, 14,025 bales of organic cotton were produced in the United States. 19.2 million total bales of cotton were produced in the United States in the same time period. This means that organic cotton production makes up less than 1% of total cotton production in the USA. The bottom line is there isn’t a whole lot of organic cotton to go around. Even though production of organic cotton is steadily rising, it still nowhere near becoming the main source of cotton production.

100% organic cotton t-shirts are available, but they can be rare. Organic cotton costs more than regular cotton; therefore it isn’t in demand as much. More and more companies are adding organic cotton to their production process, but it is done differently than you might think.

Often time organic cotton is blended into regular cotton when producing t-shirts. This is the start of a growing trend and it will lead to more organic cotton production, but it also means the shirt could be marketed to you wrong. We have found cases where a t-shirt will be marketed as an organic cotton t-shirt, even though the shirt contains only 3% organic cotton. When you see a company advertising 100% organic cotton t-shirts, remember that they may be advertising that the t-shirt is 100% cotton, not exactly 100% organic cotton.

Organic Cotton Scam?

Is this practice just one, big organic cotton scam? Not necessarily, many of these blended shirts are popular in production. They are somewhat organic; they just are marketed to make the consumer think they are 100% organic.

The Department of Agriculture doesn’t regulate textile production once cotton has been harvested, which means that fabric may be chemically treated in the production process and still be labeled as organic. A lot of companies use dyes that are not organic. When used on organic t-shirts they make that shirt a little less organic.

What to Do?

If you are looking for a truly organic shirt make sure you know the company you are buying from. Make sure their process is totally organic, that their shirts are 100% organic and their dyes are 100% organic. We have found that the 3 Clothing Company and the Öko Box are both reputable organic clothing companies that offer you a truly organic cotton t-shirt. Both these companies use only organic cotton and their treatment process is totally organic as well. Their prices are reasonable for the industry.

Organic cotton t-shirts that are mixed with traditional cotton are not bad in anyway and are still more eco-friendly than t-shirts without any organic cotton at all. We are not trying to dissuade you from buying them, we are just telling you that if you want a truly organic cotton t-shirt than these are factors you need to be aware of. Don’t be duped, just make sure you know who you are ordering from.