Monday, August 18, 2008

What is "Organic Cotton" anyway?

Organic Cotton t-shirts, one of the many types of eco-swag, or "green swag," available, are becoming more and more popular as promotional products and giveaways.

Long a staple marketing tool (because people seem to keep them for years and years. Heck, I still have mine from the '79 Jackson's World Tour! And, yes, it still fits, but that's another story.), the popularity of branded t-shirts isn't diminishing. However, a great change is occurring: both purchasers of promo items, and attendees of events, are requesting their tees be of organic cotton.

So, what exactly is organic cotton, you say?

Well, according to Completely Cotton, this refers to organically-grown cotton using crop rotation, beneficial insects, compost and other, less aggressive, farming methods, in place of chemical fertilizers and intensive farming techniques.

According to the Soil Association, a typical conventional cotton t-shirt uses approximately 150 grams of acutely toxic pesticides and insecticides; that's the size of a cup of sugar. Organic cotton is manufactured from organically grown cotton plants. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used to grow it, and the final cloth is unbleached and dyed with natural plant dyes.

Unbleached cotton tees are easy to spot, as they are ecru in color -- or very light brown,--sounder for the environment than bleached or dyed cotton.

Of course, for marketing purposes, ecru may not always be the way to go, as color does, after all, have its place in the promo world. Brands are brands.

But, here's hoping that, as the desire for screenprinted, cotton tees continues to grow, more and more folks will at least consider using organic ones (even if the logos on them aren't exactly eco-friendly -- but, we're working on that).

For more info on organic tees, and other promotional items and client gifts, visit our website, or e-mail me at