To understand complex topics, we find it helps to take a step back. So let's break this down, starting with the basics.
What is cotton?
Cotton is a fiber that comes from cotton plants. The fiber is used in textiles (among other things). It's an incredibly popular textile in the fashion industry because of its versatility.
What is organic cotton?
Organic is a tricky word. The media, consumers, and brands use it so much that it has almost lost its meaning. Almost. It doesn't help, of course, that many countries have their own designations around what organic means. Even within environmental circles, debates persist.
Both organic and "non-organic" cotton come from plants. The difference is in the farming and harvesting of these plants.
What makes cotton "organic"?
Again, the difference is in the farming and harvesting of these plants. Here's what makes cotton organic:
•No genetically modified seeds are used
•No toxic chemical inputs used in the soil – only natural fertilizers and regular crop rotation to help maintain soil integrity
•A more natural approach to insect and weed management – again, no synthetic pesticides or herbicides
•No human or chemical intervention when it comes to defoliating plants — defoliation happens through a naturally-occurring frost
What is pima cotton?
Pima cotton, which originated in Peru, has a longer fiber than traditional cotton (pima cotton is often referred to as "extra-long staple cotton"). This makes for a softer and more durable weave (important when making products for children—or for any product that you want to last a lifetime).
What type of cotton does Misha & Puff use?
Misha & Puff garments made with cotton use 100% pima cotton from Peru. And when we say 100%, we mean it! No blends here.
In addition, some of our pima cotton fabric is 100% organic certified (we note this on the product pages).
Why not 100% organic cotton 100% of the time?
There are a couple of reasons.
First, we haven't figured out a way (yet) to hand dye organic cotton yarn in a manner that won't be cost prohibitive. We're working on this, and if/when we can bring hand-dyed organic cotton yarn to the market in a responsible way, we will.
Second, it's important to keep in mind that organic certifications cost money and involve lengthy processes. Not all farmers, especially smaller farmers in developing countries like Peru, can afford organic farming certifications.
We've been to Peru several times to meet with our partners, and one of the things we've learned is that sustainability is the default mode in Peru. Peruvians respect their land and understand how precious their resources are. Many farmers practice responsible, sustainable farming, even if they aren't officially "certified" due to costs.
We can honestly say that we feel good about the cotton we get from Peru. (And remember, our kids and families wear our garments as well, so this matters to us, too!)