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The Dirty Side of Cotton

organic cotton

Alternatives to Conventional Cotton

Got the conventional cotton blues? The best way to break this cycle of pollution and suffering is to vote with our wallets! Say no to conventional cotton when you’re shopping for clothing, fabric, and household items.  These are a few of my favorite alternatives to dirty conventional cotton.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton doesn’t have the social and environmental problems that conventional cotton does, so buy organic to your heart’s content! The bonus when you choose organic cotton is that you’re sending a clear message to cotton producers: you don’t want the chemical-laden, genetically modified stuff in your life.

Look for organic cotton clothing and housewares in stores and online, though I’ve had better luck online.

Organic cotton for crafting is tricky to find in brick and mortar stores, but it’s worth phoning your favorite fabric store to ask. Online fabric sellers are a great resource for organic cotton, and there are lots of Etsy sellers that create their own lines of organic cotton that’s either screen printed or block printed.


Like organic cotton, you can find organic hemp clothing and housewares most easily online.

Hemp is kind of a wonder-plant. It requires very little water and few pesticides to grow, and it actually improves the soil where it’s planted. The only big downside to hemp is that, because of ridiculous laws here in the U.S., farmers can’t grow it here. Any hemp you buy in the States is going to most likely come from China or from Canada.

For crafting, Etsy is once again a great hemp resource! My favorite source for hemp is probably Noonday Textiles. I’ve been ordering from Jay, the owner, for years, and her quality is consistent. She hand-dyes all of her hemp in small batches, and she’s got a great selection of colors and weights to fit any project you’re working on.

Get Thrifty

The main downside to organic cotton and to hemp is the price tag. I totally understand that not everyone can afford to buy all organic clothing, tea towels, bedding, etc, and that’s where your local thrift store comes in.

When you buy second-hand clothing and housewares, you’re diverting waste from the landfill and opting out of the cotton production process. Even crafters can get in on the second hand goodness. Lots of thrift stores sell second hand fabric, but you don’t need yardage to craft with! Vintage linens, maxi skirts, and old mumus are all great resources for cheap fabric that doesn’t support Monsanto.

Do you have a favorite alternative to conventional cotton? I’ve love to hear your ideas in the comments!

10 Ways to Take Action Against Monsanto
Organic Farming vs. Industrial Agriculture: Which Method Wins?
Craft Store Politics & Greener Craft Shopping

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!


+ add your own
4:21AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

that sucks, I can only wear cotton

3:16PM PST on Dec 19, 2012


11:26AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

some good info. i went to the etsy site for hemp but they're closed this weekend.

10:56AM PST on Nov 19, 2012

Thank you for the information!!!

6:59AM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

If we just got rid of Monsanto.....

9:45PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Organic cotton! even cotton with some color in it (plants bred to be greenish or tan)! Thanks for the article.

9:42PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

i was not impressed actually. there are no more good and natural things left or maybe very little. anyway, thanks for sharing ;)

5:13PM PDT on Oct 10, 2012

There always seems to be a dirty side to everything. Thanks for the article Becky.

12:57PM PDT on Oct 10, 2012


8:53AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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