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I think there’s a notion that anything labeled ‘organic’ equates to a miracle product with no drawbacks and that it will always be better than its ‘regular’ counterpart.

Even when researching for this post, I was going in with the question of how is organic cotton better than conventional?

The truth is it’s not as simple as it seems- when it comes to sustainability, unfortunately the solutions never are.

But that doesn’t mean you should abandon cotton completely.

The Differences Between Conventional and Organic Cotton

Water Use

Organic cotton not only uses less water, its source of water is also more environmentally friendly.

Cotton is watered either by rainfall or irrigation.

Conventional cotton is watered using the irrigation system which can create harmful runoff, polluting the surrounding ecosystem.

In contrast, rainfall is used to water 80% of organic cotton, according to the Textile Exchange.

Pesticide Use

The use of pesticides seems to be part and parcel with crop growing; however, the hazardous pesticides used in conventional cotton growing can wreak havoc on not only the environment but farmers health as well.

One example is Glyphosate, a herbicide used to kill weeds and grasses found in Roundup. This herbicide has been labeled as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization after studies conducted on farmers’ health.

Organic cotton uses natural and organic pesticides but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own host of concerns.

CO2 Emissions

Since organic cotton does not use nitrous-dioxide pesticides in its farming practices, it uses emits 46% less CO2 than conventional cotton.


Currently, organic cotton accounts for less than 1% of the total amount of cotton cultivated globally per year. The reason is because the growing process is inefficient compared to conventional cotton.

Conventional cotton has been engineered to produce more fibre per plant. This means that if we were to replace all conventional cotton with organic cotton, it would take more land to yield that same amount of conventional cotton.

Why does this matter?

Connecting this back to CO2 emissions, farming organic cotton at the same scale as conventional cotton, could produce more CO2 emissions given the difference in yield, according to a report by Quartz.

The Main Takeaway

There is no miracle sustainable fabric and if there was, organic cotton would probably not be it.

Overall, while imperfect, I still believe organic cotton is preferable to its conventional counterpart.

Since most (if not all) fabrics- regardless of whether they’re sustainable or not- impact the environment in some way, more emphasis should be placed on buying less, buying well and making your clothing last as long as possible.

To buy well when it comes to cotton, opt for GOTS- certified organic cotton. This certifications ensures garments are not made with any harmful chemicals or processes from the growing stage to manufacturing.

Below are 11 brands that use GOTS-certified organic cotton.


Offers women’s denim jeans, shorts, skirts, jackets

Fabrics: organic cotton, recycled cotton, deadstock fabrics, Tencel Lyocell, natural plant based dyes

Certifications: OEKO-TEX 100 Standard, ISO9001 Certified, Organic 100 Content Standard, Global Recycled Standard, GOTS, Remake Approved

Packaging: 100% compostable shipping bags, labels made from recycled materials, hang tags made from recycled paper

Based in California

Give Back Programs: 1% For the Planet partner. They partner with Solar Sister, Keep A Breast, Friends of the LA River, California Coast Keeper Alliance, Fair Trade USA

Price Range: $173. 15 CAD

Sizing: Bottoms US 000-14 (XXS-XL; 22-32)

Favourite Item: The Toby | Lavender Hill

Shop here


Offers t-shirts, crop tops, sweatshirts, sweatpants, mocknecks

Fabrics: organic cotton

Certifications: GOTS

Based in New York City

Price Range: $44.47 CAD

Sizing: 2XS-4X

Favourite Item: Mauve Marble Tie Dye University Hoodie

Shop here

The Classic T-Shirt Company

Offers men’s and women’s luxury basics 

Fabrics: organic cotton

Certifications: GOTS

Based in California

Give Back Programs: 1% of profits goes towards safe water, tree planting and ocean cleanup initiatives

Price Range: $66.63 CAD

Size Range: XS-2X

Favourite Item: Women’s Short Sleeve Crew Neck in Copper

Shop here


Offers elevated casual wear for men and women

Fabrics: organic cotton, regenerated nylon, Tencel, mohair, alpaca, wool

Certifications: Fairtrade, NPOP, FSC, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, ISO 14000

Packaging: swing tags and boxes made from FSC approved paper. Packaging is printed with soy-based inks and is recyclable.  

Based in New Zealand

Price Range: $268.05 CAD

Size Range: Bottoms US Women’s size 0-12 (XXS-XL); Men’s S-XL 

Favourite Item: Robbie Top in Dots

Shop here


Offers women’s underwear and bralettes

Fabrics: organic cotton

Certifications: GOTS, OEKO-TEX

Based in New York City

Price Range: $33.00 CAD

Size Range: 2XS- 3X

Favourite Item: The Keyhole in Midnight Moon

Shop here

Made Trade

Offers women’s, men’s and kids clothing, furniture, home goods, shoes and accessories

Fabrics: econyl, repreve, reclaimed fabric, organic cotton, Tencel, recycled polyester, hemp

Certifications: 1% For the Planet, Fair Trade, GOTS

Packaging: 100% Carbon neutral shipping

Based in North Carolina

Give Back Programs: 1% donated to grassroots organizations

Price Range: $121.46 CAD

Size Range: 0-16

Favourite Item: Cremini Pima Knit Pants

Shop here

Organic Basics

Offers women’s and men’s underwear, basics and athleticwear

Fabrics: organic cotton, recycled nylon, TENCEL Lyocell, recycled wool, recycled cashmere

Certifications: Certified B Corporation, GOTS, GRS, Standard 100, OEKO-TEX

Based in Denmark

Price Range: $132. 94 CAD

Size Range: XS-XL

Favourite Item: Organic Cotton Mid-Weight Cropped Sweat in Navy

Shop here


Offer’s women’s, men’s and children’s basics.

Fabrics: organic cotton, elastane, linen, non-toxic dyes and chemicals

Certifications: GOTS, Fair Trade

Packaging: packaging is biodegradable, recyclable and compostable

Based in Colorado

Give Back Programs: Give Back, Wear Forward

Price Range: $74.90 CAD

Size Range: XS- 3XL (0-24)

Favourite Item: Fit & Flare Strappy Midi Dress in Mulberry

Shop here


Offers elevated basics, activewear and outerwear

Fabrics: organic cotton, lyocell

Certifications: GOTS, Certified B Corporation, Fair Trade Certified Factory, Organic Trade Association member

Based in California

Price Range:  $103.80 CAD

Size Range: XS-XL

Favourite Item: Cadence Romper in Chateau Grey

Shop here

LA Relaxed

Offers women’s relaxed casual wear, sleepwear, and kids clothing

Fabrics: organic cotton, Tencel lyocell, Tencel modal, linen, hemp, EcoViscose

Certifications: GOTS, Bluesign Certified

Based in California

Price Range:  $64.35 CAD

Size Range: XS-2X

Favourite Item: Well Loved Organic Crop in Ivory

Shop here

Vege Threads

Offers basics, underwear, swimwear

Fabrics: organic cotton, merino wool, econyl, Lycra Xtra Life, hemp

Certifications: GOTS, Australian Certified Organics (ACO), Responsible Wool Standard, Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), 1% for the Planet

Based in Australia

Price Range: $105.42

Size Range: XS-3X

Favourite Item: Organic Fleece Sweat Pant in Rust

Shop here

What are your thoughts on cotton?

Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


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