In the 1990s Patagonia started looking more closely into their cotton supply chains. At that time, fully 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals in the United States were used to produce cotton, grown on just one percent of all major agricultural land. Conventional cotton crops in California alone were dusted every year with 6.9 million pounds of chemicals. And research showed that extensive and intensive use of synthetic fertilizers, soil additives, pesticides, defoliants and other substances wreak terrible havoc on soil, water, air and many, many living things.
In 1996 Patagonia made the commitment to using 100% organic cotton in their clothes, or to stop using cotton all together.
One of Patagonia's first partners in growing organic cotton in the mid-90s, the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC) is still farming strong out on the high plains of Texas.
As consumers we should choose organic cotton.
Manufacturers with cotton based products in their line should at a minimum be offering some organic cotton choices to their customers. While a bit more expensive than the conventional variety, the additional cost is an investment in a cleaner environment.