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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Does Organic Cotton Cost More

Good question. With today's economy going into the dumpster, everyone is trying to find as many bargains when and where we can. The more I read about organic, the more convinced I am that, in the long run, we are paying a much higher price when it comes to our environment, our health, and our future. So here are some reasons I found why organic cotton costs more:

• Organic uses untreated seeds, contends with weeds and insects in a non traditional manner that costs more than the conventional use of petroleum based fertilizers, toxic herbicides and pesticides that threaten to destroy our environment. My daddy was an organic farmer, rotating crops and using cow manure for fertilizer. My brother continues this practice today. Organic farming is going back in time utilizing these same principles.
• Organic cotton is more expensive to harvest. My mom grew up on a cotton farm in Arkansas. In 1915 cotton was harvested by hand - painful and labor intensive to say the least. Today all sorts of chemicals with names no one can pronounce (thidiazuron, carfentrazon, phraflufen on and on are used to defoliate and kill off the rest of the cotton plant after harvest. Organic cotton uses none of these methods.
• Organic cotton is more expensive to manufacture. One reason is that it's still a small market. And, the same manufacturing facilities are used for both conventional cotton and organic cotton processing. But before organic cotton can be processed, the cotton gin and machines have to be cleaned and sanitized upping the processing costs.
• Fair trade and fair wage plays an important role in this scenario as well. Companies who manufacture clothing made in the USA pay fair wages and benefits to their workers. No sweat shops paying pennies for a days work.
• It's the Big Guy vs the Little Guy. It costs the little organic cotton guy big dollars to ship, advertise and market their wares - more so than huge discount store operations with unlimited budgets.

The unfortunate truth is that organic cotton may always cost more. The good news is that we will see the price gap shrink as the organic cotton movement grows and people become more aware of the benefits organic has to offer. Whether it's hemp, cotton or bamboo - it's new thinking. It's forward thinking.

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