Colour Cotton Is More Than Organic

We hear the term 100% organic cotton a bit too often.  We talk about how polluting cotton cultivation is, about pesticides and fertilizers and all other chemical inputs.  We talk about  organic cotton cultivated without any chemicals.

However, after  cultivation, it is the dyeing process that is really polluting the environment.  And unless and until this process is not sustainable, no organic cotton is 100% organic.

It was twenty years ago that Sally Fox proposed a solution to this problem: coloured cotton. Her brand Fox Fibre Cotton uses only natural colours that are found in the plant itself: natural, brown and green.

Fox Fibre Cotton uses no chemicals or synthetics in the complete process of growing, processing and manufacturing, . The pest control is made without genetic engineering. The brand uses high quality certified organic cotton.

Sally Fox talked to Make Cotton Sustainable about colour cotton.

Explain a bit about colour cotton.

Like many others, we believed that cotton grows white or slightly crude, and to obtain other colors we just had to dye it. The reality is very different. The cotton plant, touched by commercial interest, date back to pre-colombian times, and was cultivated by the natives of the so called new world. These natives (Mochicas) cultivated Cotton in hundreds of colors.

The oldest proofs of such culture are to be found in the Ithacan delta of central America 2300 BC and also In Huaca Prieta at the Peruvian Nord coast 3100 BC. You can find back this color fiber in the fabrics of the Andes weavers. The Peruvian fishermen used dark cotton for their nets, as fish could not see them easily.

Documents testify that the Spanish troops, crossing the Peruvian desserts, where enthused by the cotton fields and their color resplendence.

The weaver loom was invented in England in 1769 and cotton gin was invented in 1794. When the Industrial revolution was at its peak in the beginning of the 20th century, cheap chemical dyes sealed the fate of the natural colored cotton.

Cultivating white cotton and dyeing it afterwards was cheaper and easier, the amount of possible colors was endless, and no special harvesting techniques or installations were needed.

The color cotton plantations was started by some native tribes who took care of the cotton culture, more out of religious and traditional reasons.

How polluting is an average cotton dying process?

Cotton occupies 3% of all cultivable land in the world, and consumes 25% of toxins used in agriculture. Besides that, today organic cotton represents only 1% of all cotton resources.  And just for you to know, colored organic cotton is a 0.003%! Normal cotton uses almost 200 different chemical products. And this information is only for the cultivation part of the cotton, so you can very well imagine the dyeing process to obtain the “optical white” (white color is the most contaminated) and other colors made from strong metals. Even if the colors are from vegetables or water ink, to fix it in the product, they use strong toxins that spread bad diseases in the environment and are harmful to the health of the people as well. In the end, we buy a t-shirt made of 100% natural cotton and we think it is good because there is no synthetic fiber (nylon or polyester) in it. But it is not 100% organic.

 How is Fox Fibre cotton more than organic?

Because of what I said above, Fox Fibre Colorganic uses only 100% certified organic cotton, with no further dying process and no other textile process. We only wash with water. Our focus is to provide the most pure products to all people.

What are the natural colors of organic cotton?

Natural colors are typical earth colours. They are shades of brown, natural and green shades.

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