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Clothing made with conventionally grown cotton is contaminated with a wide array of pesticides and dyes, which can be absorbed through the skin, especially when you perspire. Read more

Cotton Jeans with Pesticides

Clothing made with conventionally grown cotton is contaminated with a wide array of pesticides and dyes, which can be absorbed through the skin, especially when you perspire.

The good news is that major cotton growers throughout the nation, especially in California, have recently decided to grow their crops organically, despite increased costs. They are making this transition because of growing consumer concerns about the use of pesticides and its consequences on water quality, worker safety, and their health. Interestingly, organic cotton farmers are achieving virtually the same yields as their chemically dependent neighbors. And they are finding a huge demand for their cotton among some of the nation’s leading clothing companies.

Organic, natural clothing is made from unsprayed, undyed cotton. Instead of using solvents at the factories that process the cotton, organic cotton manufacturers use water or beeswax. And instead of using formaldehyde for shrink-proofing garments, they now use a mechanical process. Furthermore, cotton can be grown in colors such as green and brown. For additional colors, natural dyes, derived from renewable plant and insect sources, are used and processed with water only. the availability of organic cotton clothing is increasing dramatically, and you can now find it through mail-order suppliers or in stores in major cities.

Designers are producing increasingly hip wear that you can feel good in and good about wearing.

Chronic Health Advisory


One of the most heavily sprayed crops in agriculture is cotton; in the United States alone, approximately thirty-five million tons of pesticides are applied to the cotton crop, and the textile industry is the sixth most polluting industry in the world. Many of the pesticides used to grow cotton are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and teratogenic.


Industrial Chemicals

Sizing, which is any of various gelatinous or glutinous preparations made from glue or starch for filling the pores of cotton materials, can contain formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic. The ginning process, which removes seeds from cotton, also uses petroleum-based solvents. Synthetic dye processes use heavy metals, alkalies, and salt. Some heavy metals such as arsenic and lead are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, or teratogenic.


Safe Shopping Tips

  • You might be wearing organic clothing right now and not even know. A wide range of organic clothing is available, ranging from pants, jumpsuits, sweatshirts, parkas, baby’s and children’s clothing, skirts, shirts and blouses, and undergarments.
  • Levi’s Naturals brown denim jeans and jackets are made with naturally colored cotton called Fox Fibre, which grows in brown, cream, and green, needing no bleaching and fewer, if any, pesticides, because of its natural pest resistance.
  • Environmentally friendly clothing is now offered by firms as large as Levi Strauss & Co., VF Corp (owner of Lee and Wrangler), Esprit, and Nike, and is also readily available on the web.
  • An excellent brand is Esprit, which uses not only organic cotton, but also environmentally friendly zippers, snaps, and buttons. The usual way of making standard zippers and other metal fasteners for clothing involves electroplating, which creates millions of tons of hazardous waste.