September is also Organic September, Europe's biggest celebration of all things organic brought to us by the Soil Association (UK organic guardians.)
Organic fruit and veg boxes, organic meat from the farmers market, organic milk from the supermarket.....whatever our shopping habits organic food is easily spotted these days.
But it's not just potatoes. You can't eat our shirts but they've been grown organically too. Well the cotton has.
Why are our shirts organic? (Warning, bit of worthiness coming up.)
Organic cotton is better for the farmers. Getting into debt buying chemical inputs is a frighteningly common occurrence for poor Indian farmers. By avoiding toxic pesticides farmers also reduce health problems (which apart from the actual health problems themselves also lead to debit in order to seek treatment and buy medicine.)
Organic cotton is better for the environment - part 1. Organic fibres are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers or toxic pesticides. By building soil fertility naturally through the use of compost and manure organic farmers help lock CO2 into the soil, helping mitigate climate change, and they also avoid the greenhouse gas emissions assoicated with energy intensive fossil-fuel based fertilisers. It also avoids the use of the toxic pesticides that, in non-organic systems, are responsible for poisoning wildlife and rivers.
Organic cotton is better for the environment - part 2. Organic textile standards ensure that the chemicals used in processing textiles meet strict requirements on toxicity and biodegreadability, and textile manufacturers must also have a waste water treatment plant and a sound environmental policy. In contrast non-organic manufacture uses tens of thousands of acutely toxic chemicals, including heavy metals, formaldeyde and aromatic solvent, many of which are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
(Fancy living next to a dye house that uses chemicals and either has no water treatment plant or a sub-standard one? No, us neither.)
Better for farmers, better for the planet, why wouldn't we be organic?