Cotton has been used for 7000 years by humans for clothing. It takes sun, water and fertile soil to produce cotton. From the planted seed it take around 25 weeks until the cotton ball naturally splits up and can be harvested.
Organic cotton don’t use chemicals or fertilizers in the cultivation process. Less than 1% of the worlds cotton production is organic. I will try to describe the process in a very simple way. Here we go…
This process starts every year usually around April. The harvest period is from
October to January.The main cotton producing countries are USA, China, India and Pakistan.
A beautiful cotton flower.
“I wish they’d had electric guitars in cotton fields back in the good old days. A whole lot of things would’ve been straightened out.” Jimi Hendrix
The cotton buds will soon split up and be ready for harvest
Cotton ready for plucking. There are mainly 3 types of cotton that are used for commersial use. Long-, -medium and -short staple cotton. The type on the pictures are long staple cotton, considered the best quality. All BLIGHT´s clothes are made of this type of cotton.
Conserve natural resources so that the least possible harm to the environment arises
Preserving soil fertility in the long term
Create the greatest possible recycling of nutrients
Picking the cotton is made manually and takes a lot of labour force. This process lasts up to three months The monsoon starts in mid June at Gujarat region.
Below are two example of how natural colored garments look like. No dying, just the natural look of cotton. Organic and natural. As it should be.
After the plucking the cotton is packed into bales. Every bale weights around 100 kg.
Bales ready for spinning after the ginning process. The cotton is dried and cleaned.
The combing process. Preparing for count & spinning. Still a while before the yoga clothes can be produced.
This process is called count.
The size of yarn is defined by its weight and fineness
This is the last process for the yarn. Once the yarn is ready the knitting or weaving can start. Since the invention of “Spinning Jenny” year 1764 the technology has made huge progress. Spinning Jenny made it possible for one worker to handle 8 spools simultaneously. The spinning machine above handles hundreds of spools and are also managed by one person. I think James Hargreaves, inventor of Spinning Jenny, would be quite impressed.
A model of Spinning Jenny at Museum of Early Industrialisation, Wuppertal, Germany
“I was influenced a lot by those around me – there was a lot of singing that went on in the cotton fields.” Willie Nelson
In the middle of the machine you can see part of the fabric. Until the first cut it has the shape of a tube. A fantastic machine!
After the spinning process you get yarn. Yarn can be used with different methods to produce fabric. Weaving and knitting are the most common. The finishing process includes cleaning and dying and sometimes printing.
The process for dying organic is called Low Impact which means saving water and not using chemicals.
The certifying company for organic cotton is called Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS. On their web page you will find the following criteria:
At all stages through the processing organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fibre products and must to be clearly identified
All chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability
Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals.
Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching)
Azo dyes that release carcinogenic amine compounds are prohibited.
Discharge printing methods using aromatic solvents and plastisol printing methods using phthalates and PVC are prohibited.
Restrictions for accessories (e.g. no PVC, nickel or chrome permitted)
All operators must have an environmental policy including target goals and procedures to minimise waste and discharges
Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant.
Packaging material must not contain PVC. Paper or cardboard used in packaging material, hang tags, swing tags etc. must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC
The factory has at least one sewing machine per seam. This factory has around 20 different types of machines.
Makkhi gets born
“I am a huge fan of big cotton underpants; they’re comfortable. I wear them every day.” Gisele Bundchen
Kiran – The Cotton King
A company participating in the GOTS certification scheme must work in compliance with all criteria of the standard. GOTS relies on a dual system to check compliance with the relevant criteria consisting of on-site auditing and residue testing.
Fibre producers (farmers) must be certified according to a recognised international or national organic farming standard that is accepted in the country where the final product will be sold.
Certifiers of fibre producers must be internationally recognised through ISO 65/17065, NOP and/or IFOAM accreditation. – They also must be accredited to certify according to the applicable fibre standard
Operators from post-harvest handling up to garment making and traders have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid GOTS scope certificate applicable for the production / trade of the textiles to be certified
Certifiers of processors, manufacturers and traders must be internationally accredited according to ISO 65/17065 and must hold a ‘GOTS accreditation’ in accordance with the rules as defined in the ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’