Ethical and Environmental Issues With Cotton

More than two thirds of the worlds cotton is grown in developing countries and the former soviet union. Whilst the world cotton crops are thought to be worth about $30 billion dollars unfortunately there are many environmental and ethical issues associated with the growth of cotton including abusive and unsustainable practices. Here are three reasons why organic cotton offers a more environmentally friendly and ethical alternative.

Child Labour

Uzbekistan is the worlds third largest exporter of cotton. Each year the government orders thousands of children as young as seven to work for little or no money to harvest the cotton. There has also been documentation of child labour in the cotton fields of India and child trafficking in West Africa. Either Fairtrade or organic cotton is from a recognised source which has been certified as ethical and will have been sourced through an ethical supply chain.


Many of the worlds cotton fields are irrigated with water which has a huge impact on the environment. It takes 10-17,000 litres of water to produce just one kilogram of lint. The Aral Sea in Uzbekistan has shrunk to 15% of its former size and salinity has risen by 600%. All of the native fish have died and commercial fishing has come to a halt. There is evidence that once cotton fields are transitioned to organic, the need for water is lessened, and organic cotton could become a rain-fed crop in some areas.


Over $2 billion of chemical pesticides are used for the growth of cotton each year. Almost half of these chemicals are classified as harmful by the world health organisation including Aldicarb a powerful nerve agent and Monocrotophos which has been identified as causing paralysis in children living in cotton growing areas. These hazardous pesticides cause many deaths amongst agricultural workers and pollute rivers around the world including in USA, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Australia, Greece and West Africa. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides.

These are just some of the reasons why Bamboo Baby choose to make their baby clothes from ethically sourced organic cotton and bamboo.

Further information can be found on the Environmental Justice Foundation Website