If you’re in the market for new sheets, choosing organic cotton ones can drastically reduce the impact of what you buy.
According to the Sustainable Cotton Project, conventional cotton farming uses about 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of the pesticides. The pesticides used on cotton happen to be among the world’s worst: five of the nine most commonly used have been identified as possible human carcinogens. Others are known to damage the nervous system and are suspected of disrupting the body’s hormonal system. These chemicals aren’t permitted for use on organic cotton.
Beyond sprays, there are other eco-concerns involved with the manufacture of sheets: processing and washing are water-intensive; the chemicals used to bleach and dye cotton can harm our waterways, and some colorants contain heavy metals; formaldehyde is used to create permanent press fabric; packaging and transportation take a toll. Many of these concerns are minimized or avoided with organic cotton sheets.
Most stores that sell sheets offer one or two organic options. Read the find print. The word natural doesn’t mean organic, nor is it regulated.
Just because sheets were made from organic cotton doesn’t automatically mean they’re also low-impact dyed. Choose undyed sheets or, if you want white, colored, or patterned versions, look into how the fabric was bleached or dyed.
Two solid certifications to look for are GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Oeko-Tex.
Don’t forget about your blankets, pillows, and mattress. There are organic versions of these, too.