Though organic cotton has a long way to go before it replaces conventional cotton, it’s been riding the organic wave that was started in the fruit and vegetable section of your local grocery store. While consumers mostly come into contact with organic cotton in their clothing, organic cotton is slowly moving into the consumer products market as well.
A Quick Reminder of the Organic Advantage
We recently discussed the advantages of organic cotton in this space. If we distilled why many consumers prefer the organic variety, it would be due to its lack of toxins that can come from standard farming methods that utilize pesticides and GMOs. With organic cotton, this is not a concern. Throw in the fact that most manufacturers are using a Totally Chlorine Free process to purify and whiten cotton—organic and conventional—and many health concerns are allayed. That’s why the three products we wanted to discuss today shouldn’t come as a surprise.
According to this article from the Huffington Post, “the average American woman uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime—or up to 24,360 if she’s on estrogen replacement therapy.” Obviously this creates a need to be as selective as possible in the materials that go into feminine care products. Much of the allure of organic cotton clothing is due to the fact that it’s in constant contact with our entirely permeable skin. With the vaginal wall also being very absorptive, this is a product segment where avoiding toxins should be a high priority.
This is another organic no-brainer, for many of the same reasons that apply to femcare. With products like diapers and wipes coming directly into contact with sensitive areas on babies—who already have highly sensitive skin as it is—an organic option makes sense so that little ones aren’t subjected to those potential toxins. Much like with the risks associated with other baby care products, avoiding or limiting products that have the potential to be harmful is a route many modern-day parents are taking.
Once again, we come to a category where products have a high likelihood of coming into contact with skin. Anyone can quickly think of instances when they’ve visited the doctor’s office and cotton products have been used, from swabs to cotton balls to gauze. Professional spas and salons also use a wide variety of cotton products, such as cleansing towels and cotton pads—many of which are used on facial treatments. In both applications, hopefully one day organic cotton will be the fiber of choice.
When Will Organic Cotton Be the Norm?
While the benefits of organic cotton are real, the reality is that less than 1% of cotton grown globally is organic. It will take time to create demand. However, there are signs that the organic tide is turning: according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey (via organicottonplus.com), in 2011, U.S. organic cotton sales climbed 17.1% higher than the previous year, hitting $708 million. These numbers are very encouraging for organic cotton, but it’s not surprising. The common thread between all three of the products discussed today is that they come into contact with skin. As the demand for organic rises, it makes sense that these are the types of applications where consumers will demand it most.