Organic cotton, broadly speaking, is cotton which is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides and GMOs (Genetic Modified Organisms) according to the principles of organic agriculture.
The cultivation of organic cotton is under the scope of organic farming standards, many of them defined by national governments. The EU for example has its own organic agriculture standards, while Turkey’s standards are aligned with the ones in the EU. Cotton grown respecting these standards can be called organic.

What does certified mean then?

After the cultivation comes the processing i.e. ginning, spinning, knitting and weaving etc. There is a whole spectrum of organizations which set standards around processing, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) probably being the most famous one. When you see their logo on a product that means two things: that the fiber is organically grown AND that it has been processed according to a strict set of rules which ensure minimal negative effect on the environment and the people involved in the production. For example, GOTS certified fabrics can not go through sand blasting, the process which gives denim the worn out look, because it is considered harmful to the workers.

You may wonder “What is the benefit of certified organic cotton to me?”. Well, we don’t really know. Shocked? We know. There simply are not enough studies comparing organic to non- organic cotton when it comes to the effect on end users. The ones that do exist don’t give us consistent answers.

What we should wonder is “What is the benefit of certified organic cotton to the human kind and the environment we live in?”. Organic cotton doesn’t require synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which are accumulated in soil and washed away into rivers. Instead, their natural counterparts are used which are digested much easier by nature, therefore not stripping the soil and rivers of life. Then there is, of course, the effect on people involved in the production. Even though they are thousands of miles away and practically invisible to us, they are still victims of the broad range of poisonings by chemicals and processing methods. All of that for our clothes. When you buy organic certified cotton, you are buying a promise that nobody got poisoned to produce your t-shirt, nobody’s river was contaminated, nobody’s soil got stripped of life. You buy fair treatment of the planet we all live on. Even though there is no benefit to you individually, there is benefit to all of us collectively.