We've all got a pack of cotton pads in our draw, whether we use them or not. For me, their top use is makeup removal! A cotton pad and some micellar water leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh. However, there are some issues surrounding these handy puffy circles, have a read to find out what they are and what you can do to help!
The Issues Surrounding Cotton
More and more people are switching to organic/sustainably sourced cotton products and it comes as no surprise. There are some really big issues that surround cotton production, here a few of the basics:
Water quantity and quality
- The global average water footprint of seed cotton is 3,644 cubic metres per tonne, the equivalent of nearly 1.5 Olympic swimming pools.
- 60% of cotton production sources water by irrigation over rain-feeding (ground and surface level water) which can put pressure on water supply for local communities. - In cotton production, as with many crops, the use of fertilisers can cause eutrophication (enrichment of water with nitrogen), which in turn impacts drinking water sources for people, animals and aquatic life.
Pesticides and Fertiliser
- Cotton production currently uses 2.5% of the world’s arable land, yet 10% of all agricultural chemicals such as those in pesticides and fertilisers. - These pesticides and fertilisers can seriously pollute water sources and decrease soil fertility. They also can have significantly harmful effects biodiversity as well as human health.
- It is likely that cheap cotton pads/balls have harmful residue on them which can leave toxins on your skin and body.
Exploitation of Workers
- Sustainability isn't just about the planet but it's people too, over 60% of the worlds cotton is produced by small hold cotton farmers who are among the most poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.
- Forced and child labour has also been reported in 4 out of 6 of the top cotton producing countries (China, India, Pakistan, Brazil). In 2018 the USA banned import of cotton from Turkmenistan due to findings of state-enforced slave labour.
- Sustainable cotton could help to lift millions of people out of poverty by providing a more stable income and improved working conditions.
The list of problems surrounding unsustainable cotton production continues from soil depletion to the uncertainty of prices. Most cotton pads bought are single use, which means there are thrown away. In the UK there have been reports of cotton pads being flushed down the loo causing problems for marine life. However, there is a way to keep using cotton pads but keep the planet happy.
Organic Cotton Pads
Although organic cotton pads are still still single use, they are better for so many reasons. Organic farmers use natural methods such as composting to create healthy soil which acts like a sponge, soaking up water during floods and holding it for longer during droughts. Organic cotton is also
pesticides free as the use of these harmful chemicals is banned in organic farming. Most organic cotton is grown in rain-fed areas instead of having to extract water from the ground which can put pressure on water supplies in local communities.
Reusable Cotton Pads
Reusable Cotton pads are exactly what they say on the tin, reusable! Many are made from a blend of bamboo and cotton to create a sturdier but soft pad that can be washed to use again and again. I recently purchased some from EcoVibe (link) which are plastic free, vegan, biodegradable and come with a little washable bag! I've uploaded a little video on @greenergrasses__ of my first time using them!
Hope you enjoyed this short but sweet post and hopefully learned some stuff you maybe didn't already know about the cotton industry. If you ever have any questions about anything mentioned feel free to send me a message <3
As always, thanks for reading!