Ethical Issues – Cotton – Why It Fails The Ethical Consumer Test

posted in: Hemp 0

Like me many people committed to supporting the fair trade industry aren’t aware of the ethical issues around cotton production. Issues such as land use, irrigation, exploitation of workers and the use of pesticides. Conventional cotton is literally destroying the environment and affecting the health and well being of millions of workers throught the world. With fantastic alternatives like bamboo and hemp now readily available its time for all us ethical consumers to vote with our wallets.

Cotton is a massive industry. Cotton crops cover over 5% of the world’s cultivated land and account for 16% of the pesticides used globally. 16% on one crop!!! How bad is that! What’s more, as virtually all cotton is grown in developing countries, there is very little control over the choice and quality of pesticides or the way they’re used. These highly toxic chemicals (cyanide and organophosphates) are responsible for poisoning the soil and the people who work it. World-wide it is estimated that over 3 million poisoning cases each year are caused by the use of pesticides on crops. Furthermore these chemicals don’t simply rinse out on their first trip through your washing machine. Even after several cycles you can still be absorbing these ghastly chemical through your skin.

Aside from being poisoned by the pesticides cotton workers are exploited at every level.

“The economics of Central Asian cotton are simple and exploitative. Millions of the rural poor work for little or no reward growing and harvesting the crop. The considerable profits go either to the state or small elites with powerful political ties. Forced and child labour and other abuses are common.”

The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia’s Destructive Monoculture- Asia Report N°93

Strangely, crop production, is an area that is often missed in reports on fair/ethical trade. The images of children sweating it out for 16 hours a day sewing clothes for Gap is a familiar one (The Observer October 28th 2007). But can you remember an article about the appalling working conditions of adults and children involved in growing cotton? Perhaps its easier to link the production of clothes to a specific company (especially if there’s a well-known logo involved) then to make the link between the high street stores and the cotton fields of Asia.

Irrigation is the other big no-no in the cotton production industry. Cotton needs huge amounts of water to grow – 6 litres for one Johnson’s cotton bud! The effects on the environment are simply staggering. The mighty Aral sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, is now all but dry. The water that would have fed into it was re-channelled for use in cotton production. Instead of a lake there is now simply a bowl of dust. A bowl of dust the size of Germany.

The good news is that there are a growing number of ethically viable alternatives. The most popular being organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. All of these can be readily bought over the internet with some specialist stores opening on the high street.

Organic cotton

The greatest benefit here is that there are no pesticides and fertilizers used so its not poisoning the environment or the people involved in production. Care taken over the preparation of the soil allows it to retain moisture and reduces the need for supplementary irrigation. Adding in a fair trade label also ensures that workers receive a fair reward for their efforts.


There’s no doubt that Bamboo makes a great alternative. Its a soft and very comfortable fabric that allows air to circulate freely. It’s also antibacterial, anti-static and anti-fungal. It grows naturally without any need for fertilizers or pesticides and is 100% sustainable and 100% biodegradable.


An incredibly soft and strong fabric that can retain its shape over many years (think T shirts here!) Like with bamboo it’s a fast growing crop that doesn’t damage the land and has no need for pesticides or fertilizers. Its breathable; keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Hemp is 100% sustainable and 100% biodegradable.

The realities of every day life can make it seem hard for us to live the sort of ethical life we’d choose. is dedicated to both discussing the live issues of today and providing easy-to-follow solutions.

Please feel free to let me know about any issues you’d like to see discussed or about any resources you think other visitors might be interested in.
Thank you

Find More Hemp Articles

As Legalized Recreational Cannabis in Colorado Reaches its 18-Month Anniversary, Consumer Demand Grows for both High- and Low-end Marijuana Products

posted in: Cannabis 0

Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) May 19, 2015

Colorado’s historic experiment with legalized, adult-use marijuana will soon reach its 18-month mark. The state’s successful program has brought cannabis out of the shadows, produced significant revenue and is also prompting industry experts to consider a widening trend; as the acceptance of legal recreational cannabis spreads across mainstream America.

“Production and demand will continue to increase as national legalization becomes a reality,” says Ryan Fox, founder and CEO of The Grass Station, one of oldest and largest cannabis dispensaries in Colorado.

“While that reality may be five or ten years down the road, you will see cannabis treated like a commodity in the markets,” he adds. “After all, we already see cannabis prices fluctuate throughout the year, from factors that are very similar to those that affect commodity futures in the financial markets.”

Fox sees a strong parallel between the legal marijuana industry and America’s wine producers when it comes to its consumer base, its production standards and quality control, as well as regarding its creative branding.

“Any great winery has an equally exceptional agricultural practice; a clean, efficient and well-organized vineyard,” he notes. “They take cost factors into account at every turn. And there’s also an element of style, a touch of creativity, when coming up with a great wine; just as there is with an excellent strain of cannabis.”

As with the wine industry, legal cannabis growers, producers and distributors are already catering to consumers across a wide range of budgets.

On any given day, Fox says, customers at The Grass Station can vary from consumers looking to spend under ten dollars for an afternoon’s diversion to connoisseurs wanting to try out a variety of the store’s more than 20 premium marijuana strains.

And because of that constantly evolving market, Fox and his staff of budtenders are often called on, much like a wine sommelier in a good restaurant, to inform and educate their customers.

Fox says that desire for information often goes well beyond Colorado, and connects him with present and future marijuana consumers across the U.S. and around the globe.

“I answer emails every single day from people who want to know more,” he says. “There are times when I feel like a vineyard owner, explaining our latest vintage.”


Denver’s premier recreational dispensary first opened its doors in 2009, and over the years has maintained its widespread reputation as the source for top-quality cannabis, served up in a welcoming atmosphere. Customers expect and get friendly and knowledgeable service from The Grass Station’s staff. Its quality-tested products not only conform to state and local regulations but are kept to the highest possible standards of purity and potency.

For more information, visit:

Tags: The Grass Station, Colorado, marijuana, cannabis, cannabis industry, Ryan Fox, wine, vineyards, wine production, wine industry