According to the Organic Trade Association, the total acreage of U.S. farmland planted with organic cotton has increased for the second year in a row. Nevertheless, there is much room for growth in a country that only produces 2.1 percent of the world's organic cotton.A recent Organic Trade Association (OTA) study found that acreage devoted to organic cotton farming in the United States has increased from 8,510 in 2007 to 9,279 in 2008. That's a 9 percent increase. Domestic organic cotton acreage experienced an even more remarkable increase of around 73 percent between 2006 to 2007. The OTA study predicts a further increase to about 12,000 acres this year.
Although these increases are impressive, the United States still has a relatively small role in world organic cotton production. The acreage devoted to organic cotton within the United States represents around 2.1 percent of the world's organic cotton crop. Nevertheless, the recent increase in growth is encouraging for the environment. Organic cotton production is an important alternative to a crop that uses more chemical pesticides than any other -- nearly 1/3 of a pound for just one t-shirt.
Organic Cotton Poised for Expansion
By all accounts organic cotton is poised for major growth. At one time, consumers could only find organic cotton in their yoga pants. Today, major retailers are beginning to place organic cotton on their shelves. Popular outdoor gear companies such as Patagonia, Timberland, and Canada's Mountain Co-op America already feature organic cotton products. Timberland plans for all of its cotton products to be 100 percent organic by 2011.
Major retailers are taking notice as well. Clothing giants Levi 's, Gap, and Nike now feature organic cotton blends in some of their products. Although their organic cotton use equals less than three percent of their total cotton use, that's a big deal. These mega-retailers reach a large number of consumers and account for a good amount of the United States retail cotton market.