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Woman picking cotton in a field

How Cotton Is Destroying Our Planet And It's People

Cotton might be the most harmful crop to our planet and people. 

If you'd like to learn more, I broke this blog into 3 easily digestible parts, but let's start with it's impact on water.

Cotton's Impact on Water

To grow one pair of jeans it requires about 1,900 gallons of water, that's the same amount of water an individual might drink in 5-6 years.

If you want a real world example of what unsustainable cotton cultivation looks like in regards to water demand. Presenting to you: the Aral sea (the worlds 4th largest lake in the world) in 1970 vs now. 

Yes, this water was used for cotton and clothes. Even though today, we have enough clothes on planet Earth to clothe the next 6 generations of humans.

And I'm not going to get into the other environmental impacts of this "sea" not being here anymore.

"The water consumed to grow India’s cotton exports in 2013 would be enough to supply 85% of the country’s 1.24 billion people with 100 litres of water every day for a year. Meanwhile, more than 100 million people in India do not have access to safe water."

Cotton's Impact on Land

Cotton is grown on 2.5% of the world's agricultural land but consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 7% of all herbicides used worldwide - that's more than any other crop in the world.

These herbicides and insecticides are powerful chemicals and have been linked to cancer, neurotoxins, and other adverse health effects.

Cotton's Impact on People

Acute pesticide poisoning is an ongoing major global public health challenge.

According to research from the National Library of Medicine, it's estimated that 385 million cases of UAPP Unintentional Acute Pesticide Poisoning occurs annually world-wide, including around 11,000 fatalities. 


Farmers have no choice to farm inorganic cotton though because that is what the world is asking for.

Why don't the workers just refuse to spray pesticides then?

Well a lot of people don't have the option. Especially in India, the #1 global exporter of cotton.

Farmers are paid for pennies on the dollar to spray pesticides, but many of them don't have a choice but to work.

But at least they were getting paid... almost 20% of the world's global cotton production is linked to China's forced labour of Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim groups.

If you aren't familiar, the Chinese government is ethnically cleansing its Muslim minority. But first, they're forcing them to work, and grow crops like cotton.

Alternatives?

There are so many amazing alternatives to cotton though; just as hemp and bamboo. The problem is that alternatives like this are often very costly.

That's why at Ecoternatives, we spent the last 3 years building the world's most affordable ecostore. Where you can get sustainable products at the best prices... finally.

Check us out - you won't believe our prices!

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