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Cotton? What’s the big deal?

I think we have all seen the label “organic cotton” or maybe even heard people go on about how the cotton industry is un-sustainable. Maybe even read a headline stating that the “fast fashion” industry is a danger to the world. But what’s the big deal? Surely cotton is ok, I mean it is natural – it’s a plant after all!

Well, there is a bit more to it.

Our appetite for the next shiny thing in fashion fuels an industry that has three major problems:

Water consumption, the use of pesticides and destruction of habitat.

Turns out growing cotton takes a lot of water – to put it in numbers that are easier to understand: one t-shirt takes about 2,700 litres to “grow”. That is approximately the amount of water one person will drink in three years, or 45 nice showers.

What about the pesticides? Effecting not only the pests, but leaking into the water, hurting habitats and animals not just directly next to the fields.

And don’t get me started on what it does to the health of the workers…. Pesticides ruin the soil quality and more habits are lost to create new fields. Something clearly needs to change and change is coming, slowly.

But it is not just the clothes we wear.

Baby wipes, cotton rounds and makeup wipes are all thrown in the rubbish after they are used. According to an article I read over at, around 20 million of these are thrown away EVERY DAY!

That is insane!

So what can we do to change?

Now, please don’t get overwhelmed and feel like unless you change everything, it is not worth it, because it is.

It is much better that you commit to one change now and follow it through, than go all “new year resolution” on it and pack it in after a month.

Three really simple things you can do are:

1. Stop using single use cotton. There are so many alternatives that are easy to come by as well as maintain. Pop over to Earthglade and check out their reusable cotton pads for example. They even come with a wash bag! Baby wipes/make-up wipes is so convenient. I know! But would you consider changing them for something re-usable?

2. Think before you buy. New clothes are nice, but could you buy better quality rather than quantity? We have already mentioned Cat Nash for example. High quality clothes, crafted by a local small business producing things that will last. Another one is Norwich based Hemp on toast – organic naturally dyed hemp fashion.

3. Last change is the most fun one, well I think so anyway.

Shop second hand! Organise swap parties with friends. Take care of your clothes and know where they come from. At the end of life of those socks/underwear/t-shirts – bring it to a charity shop and say it’s for the rag bag!

By shopping second hand you extend the lifespan of that item of clothing, you support local charities and you will often get hold of things that are a bit more unique than just another primark top 😊

What is your best tip for ditching single use cotton? Do you have a eco-friendly shop in Norfolk you want us to highlight? Maybe you are working for a business that goes the extra mile to create less waste? Let us know!

PM us here or send us an e-mail on


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