Sunday, August 26, 2012

About cotton, friends and a knotty mind

Does it happen to you that sometimes you keep on thinking something so much that you feel like your whole head is full of tight knots which need opening? Happens to me, and yesterday it caused a migraine, which is why this promised post is coming out later than promised. Sorry about that.

Well, usually those knots loosen when you talk to one of those dear old friends, who know everything about you, cry with you, even when they think you are overreacting, and still love you. I am extremely blessed to have such friends, and don't know, how I could manage without them. Poorly or not at all, is my guess.

Now that got that migraine story out ;), should I say why about cotton? Like Ville Tolvanen wrote last winter (in Finnish) 'You rarely meet a person who is as spaced out about different cotton qualities or materials that are sustainable ....'. I LIKE materials, they interest me, like the terms

1. organic cotton
2. fair-trade cotton and
3. recycled cotton

We are planning to increase the selection of Cottonhut, our own brand, and the discussions with the producers are on-going. You would think it is easy to pick which cotton, but noooo, more knots that you can think of! I would love to have OEKO-TEX certified (no harmful substances used in the production), organic fair-trade cotton, while not compromising on the quality, of course.

Well, you may very well guess the price then for the end-customer (you!) - the organic OEKO-TEX certified cotton is not an issue, but having it fair-trade is. WHY, oh why... We'll find some compromise eventually, perhaps wait 'til we have large enough market for these 100% feel-good products meaning enough people to pay the premium, or find a partner to work with, or something. But it is no wonder there aren't too many products like this available in the market, and if there are, they are crazy expensive.

If you are interested in reading more about organic cotton, fair-trade cotton and recycled cotton, you find some very condensed information below. I've added some of those 'knots' ;), would be very happy to hear your thoughts, as well!

Organic cotton - without going too much into detail, you can read more @, producing organic cotton doesn't mean only replacing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides with organic ones.You need a 2-year conversion program going from conventional to organic production, and you'll need to find a cotton variety which is adapted to the local environment - climate, soil, pests and diseases and so forth. An alarming fact is that the production of organic cotton has DROPPED 35%, and Textile Exchange is expecting at least a further 5% decrease in the production. What?? Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, accounting for 25% of all pesticide use worldwide, so you would think there would be some strong subsidies addressed to to the farmers who move to organic cotton, but apparently not.

As 70% of the world's organic cotton is produced in India, it is not hard to think what is happening to the farmers and their workers there - the price difference between organic and conventional cotton end-products is not that large, but I would think that the produced quantities for a single farmer must be very different. Why else all the pesticides? When the consumer isn't paying for the difference, who is?

Fair-trade cotton - The world cotton market is influenced by the subsidies OECD members - and in particular by the US and EU countries - provide to their producers. These subsidies led to overproduction and the worldwide collapse in prices. Producers in the North (125,000 farmers) receive support while the weakest in the South are confronted with crippling problems (10 million farmers). The consequences of these policies include debt, unemployment and extreme poverty. Fairtrade helps to break this cycle and to protect farmers through a combination of minimum prices and Fairtrade and organic premiums.

In this changing world of ours which emphasizes human-rights and the right to dignified life, it is hard to understand why there is cotton production which is not fair-trade AND organic, why do we need the term 'fair-trade', but I guess those wheels are slow to turn. Someone very close to me works in the international corporate world, and he is really seeing this trend - the shareholders are still, of course, keen on increasing the profit, but more and more not at the cost of human beings and the environment. Times HAVE changed!

Recycled cotton - a cotton fabric which has been made from recovered cotton that would otherwise be cast off during the spinning, weaving and cutting process. (the above wash cloth I crocheted the other night is made of Novita's Hanko yarn, 50% recycled cotton.)

Like said above, as well, I would love to hear your view on this topic.

puuvilla, ökotex standardi, orgaaninen puuvilla, reilun kaupan puuvilla, reilu kauppa, kestävä kehitys

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