So what is organic cotton? What does that mean? From my research, I have determined that there are three types of organic cotton for the consumer.
- Organic cotton undyed
- Organic cotton organically dyed
- Organic cotton chemically dyed
Now, for each of these types you have to take your good with the bad. All have a place in the market for color varities, weight, and brand. But the thing to remember about all of them, is that if they are USDA certified organically grown, you have already helped the environment quite a bit.
And always be sure to read the package, and check the website. If a company does not claim to be USDA certified, I do not count it as true organic yarn. And if it does not give credit to organic dyes, then I assume the dyes are chemical dyes.
Organic Cotton Undyed
Undyed organic cotton is cotton at it's most natural state. No chemicals were used in the growing process, and you will get very few colorways from your suppliers. Most will be in shades of off-white and brown. Many big name brands are now producing certified organic undyed cotton.
Organic Cotton Organically Dyed
Organic cotton that has been organically dyed has not been grown that color, but has been dyed without the use of harsh chemicles and bleach. You will get more colorways than undyed cotton, but the hues are still rather muted. And I have not tested many for longevity of the color, so fading may or may not be an issue.
Organic Cotton Chemically Dyed
Organic cotton that has been chemically dyed is still organically grown, so long as it bears the USDA label. But bear in mind, these yarns have been chemically dyed, so even if the companies claim that they have used "low-impact" dyes, there is not goverment regualtion or clarification on what defines "low-impact", so this could mean anything. Typically these dyes are still caustic and are running off into our waterways and land areas. The organic cotton, which started off as a good thing, could become so chemically treated, that it defeats the purpose in the end.
But the big debate is, should Chemically Dyed Organically grown cotton be considered organic cotton yarn? Only you, the consumer can decide.
In my opinion, this is still a better choice over traditional cotton yarn. Why? The yarn is still organic in the beginning stages. So we as consumers are taking a stand and saying that there needs to be more regulation on cotton growers to insure a less caustic, less chemical way of growth.
Chemically Dyed Organic Cotton can be amazingly soft and comes in a variety of colorways. So in the end, the choice is up to the consumer of what they choose to knit with.
I can only hope that one day there will be amazingly soft organinc cotton in a wide variety of colorways that do not use caustic dyes.