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Conventional Cotton Proves That Fashion’s Environmental Impacts Also Have Human Impacts

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 2 weeks ago | Features

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Fashion's environmental impacts also have human impacts. And few fibres demonstrate this better than conventional cotton. This is because the toxic chemicals (like pesticides) used in the production of this fibre have not only been proven to harm the earth – stripping soil of biodiversity and polluting waterways – but also the health of human beings.

According to the World Health Organisation, “poisoning is a significant global public health problem.” In 2012, WHO estimated that 193,460 people died worldwide from unintentional chemical (including pesticide) poisoning and most of these exposures were preventable. Even when deaths aren’t occurring, though, PAN’s report (Is Cotton Conquering Its Chemical Addiction) shows that human health is still being placed at risk.

This is particularly an issue when it comes to female reproductive health. Glyphosate, for example, is a herbicide commonly used on conventional cotton crops. But it has been found to have “genotoxic effects and interaction with hormones have [also] been reported, as well as reproductive, developmental, immune and neurological effects.” As a result, many women that live in and around conventional cotton farming areas have been found to experience related reproductive issues.

It is important to view these issues through an intersectional lens as well, considering many of the people affected by conventional cotton growth are people of colour. According to the PAN report, for example, Africa accounts for 8-9% of the world’s cotton market. And, in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, 90% of pesticides are used in cotton.

With this in mind, we need to support organisations like Intersectional Environmentalist – which is working to dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement. And it is also important to demand better education when it comes to the effects of conventional cotton on worker health right now. Either way, we cannot continue to ignore the human impact of fashion's environmental impacts.

So shop sustainable fibres like organic cotton, to support better health for both people and the planet.

If you liked this, you might like to shop some of our latest sustainable selects, which are made from organic cotton:

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