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What is organic?

Organic refers to farming methods involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other synthetic chemicals. Instead, it relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. It is a holistic system that promotes the sustainable health and productivity of the ecosystem – soil, plants, animals and people.

Why choose organic cotton?

A common misconception about cotton, with its image of white, soft and fluffy balls swaying in the fields, is that, because it is a natural product, it is environmentally friendly. In fact, conventional cotton farming is one of the most environmentally damaging activities in the world.

  • Conventional cotton is known as the world’s “dirtiest” crop because of the heavy use of insecticides and pesticides that are known to be dangerous for human and animal health.
  • Cotton covers only 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land, yet it accounts for 25% of the world’s insecticide market.
  • Nine of the top ten insecticides used in cotton cultivation are classified as moderately to highly hazardous for human health by World Health Organization, with three falling in the acutely hazardous category.
  • In India, cotton occupies just 5% of land under crops but accounts for 55% of all pesticides used annually, including some that are banned in the Western countries.

These pesticides, fungicides, synthetic fertilisers and other toxic chemicals and, often, genetically modified (GM) seeds degrade the soil. The aerial spraying of pesticides and leaching in the soil contaminate the groundwater, air, water and the entire eco system including the food we eat. The processing of cotton into clothing is a chemical intensive process involving many toxic chemicals including softeners, brighteners, heavy metals, sulphur, ammonia and formaldehyde among others, many of which are known to be carcinogenic.

But there is hope as people across the world, recognising the long term benefits for the environment, for the farmers and for human health, are moving towards organic cotton.

It is better for the environment.

Organic cotton is produced without the use of pesticides or any toxic chemicals at any stage of its production. Organic cotton farming, with its emphasis on minimal farm inputs and on maintaining ecological harmony, is based on a respect for the environment, the earth and its inhabitants. The process is organic from beginning to end, starting with an untreated seed and soil that has not been exposed to conventional farming for at least three years and is therefore free of toxic chemicals, followed by natural processes to boost the yield of the crop and replenish the soil. Natural pest predators like birds, bees and ladybirds are used to protect the crops from insects, and soil quality is maintained by crop rotation.

The processing and finishing of organic cotton fabric involves plant based and low impact dyes that contain no harsh chemicals or heavy metals, and uses non toxic bleaching methods and azo free colours.

It is better for the farmer and factory worker.

The aerial spraying of pesticides and the resultant contamination of the groundwater, soil and air, along with poor living conditions where pesticide containers are re-used for storing food and water, expose cotton farmer communities to acute pesticide poisoning and chronic ailments. By not using toxic pesticides and defoliants, organic cotton farmers are protected from severe respiratory and other health problems and even deaths common in non-organic cotton production.

Farmers of conventional cotton are caught in a vicious cycle of financial distress since they are forced to buy on credit expensive pesticides in increased quantities as pests keep building up resistance to chemicals - this spiral of debt has resulted in thousands of farmer suicides in India. Organic cotton does not need expensive pesticides and this, in turn, reduces production costs and financial burden on farmers. The organic cotton supply chain assures regular and fair prices to farmers for their produce which makes cotton farming economically viable.

The dismal working conditions in sweatshops that pass off as garment factories are well known. Given its commitment to sustainability and ethical production, organic cotton clothing is made in factories that use fair trade practices, do not use child labour and give fair wages to their workers who work in a safe environment.

It is better for you.

It takes 150 grams of a toxic cocktail of chemicals to make one t-shirt in conventional cotton, from its farming to its conversion to clothing. Increasingly, people are experiencing health problems such as rashes, allergies and respiratory problems due to high levels of exposure to chemicals which has also been linked to conditions like cancer and birth deformities. Organic cotton clothing offers a safer alternative to people reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals.

Pesticide-free cotton feels softer, more breathable and luxurious against the skin. It is also longer lasting and more durable as it is not subjected to harsh chemicals and processes through its life cycle.

Though you may not live in the neighbourhood of farms, the contamination caused by pesticides to the environment impacts all of us, through pesticide run-off into rivers, livestock fed on contaminated cotton straw and use of cottonseed oil in many foods. Organic cotton is clearly the better bet.

By buying organic cotton, you making an informed decision that is also, ultimately, better for you and your families.

Does it really matter?

Conscious shoppers across the world are asking questions about where the clothes they buy come from, who makes them, how and under what conditions.

As a consumer, your choices matter. By choosing organic and eco-fashion, you not only make a healthier choice for your bodies, you also drive change by encouraging demand for a responsible and ethical mode of production that is better for the environment, the farmers and the factory workers.

So, that t-shirt that you buy not only looks good, it also makes you feel good in every sense!

Why buy organic clothes for babies?

There has been an increase in asthma, eczema, spots, nappy rash, bugs and other hypersensitivity-related illnesses observed in children. A baby’s skin is more porous and thinner than an adult’s skin, so their skin absorbs things very easily. As their immune and respiratory systems are underdeveloped, they are more vulnerable to health problems related to harmful chemicals than adults.

This is the reason more parents are choosing for natural lifestyle alternatives. Organic cotton clothing is gentler on the skin and healthier for babies. As pesticides have not been used in the making of cotton and the fabric has not been subjected to dyes or bleaches or sprayed with formaldehyde to keep them looking bright and fresh, organic clothes are free of any toxic residues.

Organic cotton garments are softer, safer, durable and even less expensive. While conventionally produced cotton fabric undergoes intensive processes like scouring, bleaching, dyeing, heavy use of softeners, formaldehyde spray and flare retardants and lasts only a few washes before it starts to break down, organic cotton fabric withstands many more washes and lasts much longer.

The organic cotton supply chain does not contaminate the soil, air and water. By supporting the organic cotton movement, we help protect our children's future by reducing the levels of pollution on our planet. Our children are exposed to many harmful chemicals in everyday life; organic clothes can be one important step in reducing that exposure.

What are non toxic art supplies?

As a parent, nothing quite matches the joy of being presented with drawings, cards and artworks handmade by our kids. But not many of us know that many popular art materials contain toxic ingredients and may actually be detrimental to our children’s health. Children are especially vulnerable to these health hazards because of their small size and immature immune systems.

Oil based paints emit dangerous volatile organic compounds or VOCs while other paints are made from highly toxic metals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead. Conventional crayons are made with petroleum based paraffin wax and artificial, chemical-based colours. Modelling clay is typically made with PVC material and softened with toxic phthalates. Most play dough, although labelled non-toxic contains artificial colours.

The good news is that there are safer alternatives available. To begin with, children should always use water-based paints instead of oil based paints. Use crayons and modelling clay that are made of natural material like beeswax, soy and extracts of fruits and vegetables. Also, always look for certification information and choose products that are certified non-toxic from internationally recognised agencies.

What are non toxic toys?

You may have heard of toys being recalled from the market for containing lead and other toxic materials. Most mass produced toys contain materials such as PVC, which has been linked to serious health problems, phthalates or BPA that are harmful to children and the planet. Toxic glues are used to hold toy parts together and these are finished with petroleum based sealers and paint which give them their bright colours and strong smells.

This is of particular concern in baby toys because children until the age of about three years tend to put everything in their mouths.

So it is important to ensure that baby toys in particular are safe and non toxic. Choose high-quality, solid wooden toys with non toxic paints and finishes. Look for the FSC seal which indicates that they are made with solid wood procured from sustainable sources.

If you are buying soft toys, look for products made from natural, organic fabrics such as cotton, hemp or wool because, unlike the conventional soft toys, organic stuffed toys are produced without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, dyes or finishes.

When you do purchase plastic toys, make sure they are BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free.

It is, perhaps, not possible to make your baby’s environment completely free of toys made of harmful material. But, with safer and greener alternatives now available, it is worthwhile to make a start by choosing wisely.

Are organic clothes and natural toys and art supplies more expensive?

The short answer is yes, these products are not the cheapest in the market. But they are just a little bit more expensive and only in the short term. In the longer term, these products deliver far greater value that is well worth the few extra rupees.

By buying sustainable products, you are choosing to be a responsible consumer supporting an ethical way of doing business in which environment and people are central to the ways of working. You are also choosing safer and healthier alternatives for the well being of your children.

You are buying what is, quite simply, the best for your children’s present and their future.

How can I be sure that the products are really what they claim to be?

This is a valid concern. There are instances, called “green washing”, when companies and brands claim to be green and eco friendly when in fact they are not. This results in consumers being sceptical of such claims and rejecting the shift towards an eco friendly lifestyle as impractical or a fad.

But instead of becoming cynical, explore and embrace green lifestyle alternatives while doing the due diligence on products and their claims.

At Greenkins, we take pride in offering only the most authentic and trusted brands with proven credentials of being organic, natural and eco friendly. Many of the brands featured on our online store are respected and loved across the world by conscious consumers including discerning moms.

When buying natural, eco friendly and organic products, look out for certifications from agencies such as ACMI (Arts & Creative Materials Institute), Control Union Certifications, Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and Government of India’s National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), which are the recognised standards in the industry.

We know your children mean the world to you. The purpose, the raison d’être of Greenkins is to bring to you products that are safe, healthy and are filled with goodness for the well being of your children. It is a Greenkins promise that we will never offer any brands or products that we would not trust our own children with.

But I don’t want to buy dull, boring stuff for my kids!

Neither would we want you to! We at Greenkins are very clear that buying organic and non toxic products is not about compromising on the aesthetics and the style quotient or about giving up on any element of fun. After all, we are about eco-chic lifestyle!

Luckily for us, product designers are now using organic and natural materials to create beautiful, well designed, functional and innovative products for children. So, when you buy a piece of clothing made of organic cotton or a carton of beeswax crayons or a wooden toy, you are not losing out on anything. You are, in fact, gaining the peace of mind and satisfaction of doing the right thing for your children and for the environment. And a fantastic product too!

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