Monday, January 19, 2009

Organic Textiles - Growth in a Down Economy

By Ed Mass, President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

We'll look at some numbers in a second but first some personal experience. Yes It's Organic is an online store for organic, fair labor, and eco friendly goods including clothing, organic cotton and organic wool bedding, and other organic and eco textiles. During the fall holiday season of 2008 several of my suppliers actually ran out of stock.

Okay, you may be thinking they didn't do a good job of calculating how much they'd need. Here's the rub. They ordered 100% to 150% more than they did the previous year. That's in a very down economy. Prices of these goods aren't at the very low end of the scale either. I'd say that's great growth.

Remember, this isn't organic food which has gotten a lot of notice. I'm talking about organic and eco friendly textiles including certified organic cotton, certified organic wool, hemp, and bamboo.

It shows an increasing number of people are becoming conscious of the impact on the environment of their everyday purchases. And their willing to make changes.

Now for some interesting numbers. Be patient. You'll be amazed by the conclusion (but don't peak). The amount of organic cotton farmers grew worldwide in 2007/2008 increased 152 percent. This is according to a report by Organic Exchange, title "Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008." The report included organic cotton production in 22 countries.

The top ten organic cotton producing countries in order by rank were India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, USA, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso. India took over the number one position which Turkey had held for quite some time. The majority of the increased organic cotton production took place in India.

That was the foundation for this next amazing statistic. Organic cotton production has grown to an estimated 0.55 percent of global cotton production. That's all. Even with the above seemingly large increase, and the number of countries growing organic cotton, it's still a tiny fraction of all cotton. That means we've got a very long road, or vast opportunity, to make significant inroads into reducing the huge environmental harm from non-organic cotton farming.

And where does the U.S. stand in regard to its organic cotton production as a percentage of worldwide organic cotton production? According to the Organic Trade Association, it's only 2.1%. That's one reason that U.S. grown organic cotton is sometimes hard to find.

Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers or genetically modified seeds.
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