Remember that show Mythbusters? Two guys would test the validity of common myths, and they generally blew some stuff up. Perfectlinens.com did some of our own Mythbusting on organic cotton sheets. We didn't blow anything up in the process though. Here are some common myths (and little known truths) about organic cotton sheets.
Not exactly true. Not everything is as it seems. Even if the cotton is truly organic to begin with, organic sheets are made with chemicals after the fiber stage. In fact, most organic sheets use more chemicals than regular sheets. So in an effort to go chemical free, you could be unintentionally exposing yourself and your loved ones to the exact things you are trying to avoid. Say what?!
Going back to the produce section from Part I of our organic blog series: If you think about organic carrots they’re shorter, rougher, and ‘knobbier’ in contrast to non-organic carrots. When compared to conventional fruits and other plants, organic products are typically inferior both visibly as well as structurally. Without the help of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, stronger, longer, finer more-uniform cotton fiber cannot be grown.
This is because organically-grown plants are relatively “starved” of plant nutrients compared to their non-organic counterparts. They're also more susceptible to insect pests, which lower the crop yield (organic farms produce only 40% as much cotton as non-organic farms). These nutrient deficiencies and pests also injure the growing cotton in ways that affect how sheets feel to the touch.
So how do they make organic cotton sheets feel like "regular" soft sheets? It's simple! Higher doses of synthetic chemicals can make inferior organic cotton behave as non-organic cotton. These chemicals include: detergents, optical brighteners, biocides, wetting agents, lubricants, sequestering agents, stabilizers, emulsifiers, complexing agents, and softeners. That's quite the list!!
Again... not quite. It is true that the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) is the sole authority to verify organic cotton is grown without genetically-modified (GMO) seeds and without synthetic fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. That seems quite legit, right? We're feeling good about that. But that's where the plot twists: the USDA does not do the job itself. Instead, the USDA certifies 3rd-party agencies. At least they're verifying something! But there are some issues at play here: the 3rd-party agencies rely on a paper-based physical chain of custody and only one unannounced inspection per year. The USDA is less involved than we would have assumed:
Again, this information is troubling! There is so much misleading information out there that it is hard not to be led astray. Very frustrating!
What do you think about these common misconceptions? Have you been duped? If so, we have more mind blowing myths to bust in our next post Mythbusting Organic Cotton Sheets: Part II