In the drive to find ever more sustainable fabrics, organic cotton is one of the most popular options worldwide. It makes complete sense, with the human race’s love of cotton as the number one material choice for clothing. It is estimated that half of all the world’s textiles are made from cotton. It’s soft, versatile, and it can make everything from hard-wearing denim jeans to soft and comfortable pyjamas. No wonder the world has such a love affair with cotton.
Collectively, we’ve been using cotton for so long that most people hardly think of anything else when it comes to natural fibres for clothing, but the non-organic cotton industry has taken a huge toll on our planet. The World Wildlife Fund states that there are 250 million people employed in the cotton industry, account for 7% of all labour in developing countries. The sad thing is that the cotton industry is one of the largest polluting industries, with huge amounts of agricultural chemicals used in the growing of cotton, and even more chemicals used in processing the cotton into fabrics. These chemicals inevitably leak into the soil and waterways, polluting the environment and causing untold damage to ecosystems. Chemicals used in cotton cultivation have been linked to cancer in workers that tend the fields. Around 200,000 people die from pesticide poisoning every year.
But how do we move away from our favourite planet-harming clothing fabric? Well, a good start is to look towards organic cotton. Thankfully, the use of organic cotton fabric is on the rise, as consumers become more aware of the impact of their everyday decisions we are seeing more people seeking out organic cotton fabric suppliers in the UK and around the world. Organic cotton uses no chemicals during the cultivation and processing of the fibres. That means no synthetic pesticides, no chemical fertilisers, no defoliants or growth regulators. Organic cotton manufacturers use natural alternatives for pest control and harvest preparation instead of the synthetics that are so harmful to the environment.
The global certification body “The Textile Exchange” investigated the impact of growing organic cotton vs non-organic cotton and found that the entire process was far more sustainable when cotton is grown organically (no big surprise there!). However, there are some downsides to organic cotton. Non-organic cotton yields are artificially boosted by synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, so when the cotton is grown organically, farmers get a smaller yield from the same amount of land. This means that more land is required to grow the same amount of cotton, meaning that sometimes areas are deforested and natural habitats lost to make way for organic cotton fields. Organic cotton also requires more water than regular cotton, and cotton is a thirsty crop to begin with. Some estimates say that it takes twice as much water to grow and process 1kg of organic cotton than it does for the equivalent weight of non-organic cotton. 1kg of organic cotton is enough to make a pair of trousers and a t-shirt, and you could almost fill a 25m swimming pool with the amount of water that it takes to grow that cotton. There are several billion people in the world today, so to clothe the world in a basic set of trousers and t-shirt each requires several billion swimming pools worth of water.
If you’re looking for an organic cotton supplier, then perhaps it is time to take a breath and consider, why not hemp? We have been selling fabrics which consist of a blend of organic cotton and hemp for over 25 years and with each passing year we just see the quality increase. There are some major environmental and practical advantages to mixing organic cotton with hemp. Hemp is a weed, it grows very well organically and does not require any chemicals to achieve high yields. Hemp requires half the land compared to cotton, and 4-5x less water. It absorbs more CO2 in its short lifetime than any other crop, growing to its full height in just 4 months. Hemp improves soil quality with its deep tap root system breaking up the soil, preventing soil compaction while the wider shallower roots also strengthen the topsoil, preventing erosion. Valuable nutrients (nitrogen) are returned to the soil by dropped leaves, and if the roots and around 1 foot of the stalk are left in the ground after harvest then a huge amount of nutrients are returned to the soil, ready for whichever crop is planted after the hemp. Hemp also has the incredible ability to remove toxins from the soil. Any plants that are grown in soil where hemp has previously been planted will grow stronger and more healthy than if hemp had never been planted there.
That’s just a taste of the environmental benefits of hemp, now let’s take a look at the practical advantages. Hemp fabrics are breathable, insulting, thermodynamic, UV resistant and moisture-wicking. They’re also antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal while being 5x stronger than cotton and 3x more durable. Modern processing techniques also mean that hemp fabric is becoming much more “cottonised” in its feel and drape. To learn more about the benefits of hemp fabrics, visit our Why Hemp Fabrics page.
Where Can I Buy Organic Cotton Fabrics?
When it comes to organic cotton fabrics blended with hemp, we’re the industry-leading experts, we've been selling them for over 25 years. If you’re looking to buy organic cotton fabric in the UK, then you might find it useful to take a look at these cotton/hemp blends:
Organic Cotton Corduroy
Looking for an organic cotton corduroy fabric? Let me point you in the direction of our hemp and organic cotton corduroy blend. It’s great for making all kinds of things from trousers to jackets, pinafores and aprons. It’s also a great choice for organic cotton upholstery fabric, with the durability of hemp complimented by the soft-feel of cotton for the perfect balance of comfort and longevity.
Organic Cotton Canvas
Speaking of organic cotton upholstery fabric, if you’re looking for an organic cotton canvas fabric in the UK (or beyond) then you may want to consider one of our hard-wearing cotton/hemp blends. The original canvas fabrics were all made from hemp, in fact that is where the name “canvas” comes from. It originated from the dutch word for “Cannabis”. Our organic cotton and hemp blend canvasses include heavyweight, mid-weight and lightweight options that are suitable for a range of uses from home crafts to shoemaking, embroidery, industrial uses, making banners, artist canvas, using as a material to make an eco-friendly tent and so much more! The only limit is your imagination.
Organic Cotton Muslin
Organic cotton muslin, or cheesecloth is often in high demand and we have a lovely option that is made from 45% cotton and 55% hemp. It’s great for dressmaking, quilting, home décor, making cleaning cloths and home crafts. Of course it’s also perfect as cheesecloth or using as an organic filter material in your kitchen which can be washed and reused a great many times.
Organic Cotton Cloth
Looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly organic cotton cloth fabric? Then try some samples of our Plain Cloth or Classic Cloth (both are 45% organic cotton 55% hemp). They bring all of the softness of cotton combined with the durability and enhanced sustainable credentials of hemp. You’ll also find that we do some lovely 100% hemp cloths that are just as suitable for your project, but with the added environmental benefits that a 100% hemp fabric brings.
Organic Cotton Jersey
When it comes to making clothing such as t-shirts, pyjamas, leggings and underwear then you can’t beat a good jersey. We have plenty of organic cotton jersey options which are blended with hemp for extra durability and sustainability. Visit our organic cotton jersey page to view the entire collection of fabrics for your next textiles project.
Organic Cotton Linen
Organic cotton linen fabric is a great choice for dressmaking, bedsheets, interior design elements such as curtains or shower curtains and for general clothing. Our heavy linen fabric offers a mix of 45% organic cotton and 55% hemp, while others such as our fine linen and grass linen are 100% hemp but definitely worth ordering an organic fabric sample swatch if you’re interested in cotton linen as the hemp versions are very similar.
Organic Cotton Fleece
We’re sure that if you’re looking to buy organic cotton fleece fabric then you’re going to love our 45% cotton 55% hemp fleece. It’s oh so wonderfully soft and fuzzy to the touch, with fleece texture on one side and a more jersey-like tecture on the other. The 330gsm weight makes it perfect for jogging bottoms, athletic wear, lightweight sweatshirts and hoodies, a warm lining for winter coats and jackets, fleece bed sets, cushion covers and so much more!
Organic Cotton Denim
Denim jeans are a staple of wardrobes around the world, it is estimated that 1.2 billions pairs of jeans are bought every year. The majority of which are non-organic cotton. If we could make the switch to using hemp and organic cotton denim it would have a hugely positive effect on the environment. Our most popular denim fabric consists of 45% organic cotton and 55% hemp. Vicky from Sewstainability.blog describes it as “a really versatile fabric, it's a good weight denim perfect for jeans, jackets, coats and bags - or any pattern that requires denim or canvas! The colour is a light ivory which is perfect for dyeing and the twill weave is pronounced, giving it a beautiful look.”.
Organic Hemp Fabrics Wholesale
Finally, if you were previously looking for 100% organic cotton fabric but we’ve convinced you to make the switch to a hemp blend (congratulations, glad to have you on team hemp!) and would like to buy organic cotton fabric wholesale in the UK or anywhere in the world, then go ahead and visit our wholesale partners at hempiness.co.uk, they will be able to sort out any larger orders for your business needs. Here at the hemp shop we do offer quantity discounts that scale up depending on the amount ordered, up to a maximum of 28% on 500metres, but for anything above that you can contact Hempiness.