As an adult, you can absorb up to 60 percent of what you apply to your skin. With kids, it’s much higher. The absorption rate of children’s skin tends to be 40 to 50 percent higher than adults!
And once a substance passes through any of the 5 million pores on your skin (20,000 on your face alone), it can enter your lymph and bloodstream and travel to your organs.
If it’s a healthy substance, that can be a good thing. But for the more than 80,000 chemicals permitted in the U.S. that have never been fully studied for their potentially toxic effects on human health and the environment, this is bad news.
Two everyday sources of potentially dangerous chemicals that many people don’t tend to think about are their bed sheets and bath towels.
You spend about one-third of your life with your body and face in direct contact with your sheets and pillow cases. And after each shower, you dry your entire body with your towel.
What many people don’t realize is... permanently imbedded deep within the fiber of their sheets and towels may be a nightmarish mix of chemicals that have either been proven to be potentially harmful to human health or have not been fully evaluated for their safety.
These chemicals typically don’t wash out, which means they can remain on the surface and inside the fibers in your towels and sheets. And they can off-gas vapors and release microscopic particles with use, putting you at risk of absorbing them through your skin or inhaling them as you sleep.
I believe you don’t need to expose yourself to this type of unnecessary risk. With today’s stylish alternatives, you can have big, soft and comfy bath towels and satiny-smooth sheets that don’t sacrifice your health or your wallet.
Why You Should Go Organic With Both Your Sheets and Towels
Why should you care about organic sheets and towels? The reasons are important for you and they’re important on a much larger scale, too.
One of the key reasons why organic sheets and towels matter is because of what they don’t contain — residues of some of the most potentially hazardous insecticides on the planet.
Take Aldicarb, cotton’s second best-selling insecticide, for example... A single drop can kill a human if absorbed through the skin.
When you sleep on sheets and dry yourself with towels that contain residues of this and other insecticides, they can pass through your skin or enter your lungs and bioaccumulate within your body.
But that’s not all...
Farmers have to work with these chemicals. People need to live near the fields where the cotton is grown and treated. Aldicarb and other dangerous insecticides seep into the ground and water supply where they can travel up the food chain.
You would think that a substance so deadly to humans and threatening to the environment would be banned, right?
Not so... Aldicarb is still used in 25 countries including the U.S., where 16 states have reported it in their ground water.
Unfortunately, Aldicarb is just one substance you need to be concerned about. From seed through harvest, and during the production of cotton into sheets and towels, there are plenty more.
Bioengineered Cotton Seeds and What They Mean for Your Sheets and Towels
Many people don’t realize that cotton is a heavily bioengineered crop — and that often equates to more pesticides.
In 2000, about 62 percent of all conventional cotton in the U.S. was grown from genetically engineered seeds.
Today that number has risen to 94 percent.
Genetically engineered (GE) cotton is grown in 16 different countries around the world, but mostly in India, China, Pakistan and the U.S.
There are two types of GE cotton. Cotton...
- Engineered to be resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup so more glyphosate weed killer can be applied
- Engineered with a bacterial gene called “Bt” to produce its own toxin to kill one of its primary pests, the bollworm
Bottom line, neither option is a healthy one for humans. And both types of cotton end up requiring large quantities of insecticides and herbicides.
One Indian Cotton Farmer Commits Suicide
Every 30 Minutes — What’s Going On?
Bt cotton — the type that produces its own deadly toxin — was introduced in India by Monsanto in 2002. With its introduction, cotton farmers were promised they would be able to use less pesticides and their yields and farm income would both increase.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen in the long run. Government data shows 11,772 farmers committed suicide in 2013 — which adds up to 44 deaths every day. And many of those were cotton farmers.
Why? Along with unmet promises, unseasonal rain and hail took their toll on crops one year. But a much darker reason has emerged for the continuing desperation, especially during more recent bumper crop years.
With Bt cotton, secondary pests have emerged, forcing farmers to use much greater amounts of costly pesticides — as much as 13 times more!
The price of cotton seed has risen, and farmers are no longer able to buy seed that isn’t genetically engineered. Bt cotton seed costs 4 to 10 times more than conventional hybrid seed, and farmers are forced to buy new seed every year.
That’s not all... Increasingly, farmers began losing livestock to illness and death after they grazed in Bt cotton fields. Milk production declined. Serious reproductive failures surfaced. Workers started falling ill.
As if conditions weren’t dire enough, cotton prices have taken a steep drop. There is, however, a bright side emerging... A group of farmers have slowly begun switching over to growing organic cotton.
These farmers are finding that organic cotton is not only better for the health of their workers and animals, it guarantees them a minimum price for their harvest.
6 Facts to Know About Cotton Production
Here are some eye-opening facts about conventionally grown cotton:
- Cotton farming takes up only about 3 percent of the total farmland around the world, but consumes 25 percent of the world’s chemical pesticides and fertilizers (and at least 10 percent of the most dangerous ones)
- Each of the 13 million acres of cotton harvested every year in the U.S. is sprayed with an average of 13 pounds of carcinogenic pesticides, herbicides, and defoliants
- A third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is needed to produce the cotton needed for just ONE t-shirt
- 400 gallons of water are needed to make that single t-shirt, robbing that water from already-drought-threatened rivers and lakes
- HALF of the $2 billion spent on chemicals each year to spray on cotton crops around the globe is classified as “hazardous” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The nine most common pesticides are “highly toxic”; five are considered probable carcinogens
- The cotton industry is also the highest user of glyphosate, one of the “probable” human carcinogens declared by the WHO
I haven’t even mentioned the billions of pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers used for cultivating cotton. The runoff from these fertilizers can create aquatic "dead zones" in waterways, killing off species of aquatic life.
And here’s a troubling development: With insects developing greater resistance to current levels of pesticides, farmers are increasingly forced to apply even larger amounts for effective control.
Genetically Engineered Cotton — A Triple–Whammy to Health
The production of Monsanto’s genetically engineered cotton isn’t limited to cotton fiber… it produces fiber, food, and feed.
Sixty percent of the cotton plant is used to produce other products for humans and animals.
After the cotton is removed or “ginned”, its seeds are crushed to extract cottonseed oil.
This inexpensive oil is commonly used in processed foods like bread, cereals, crackers, cookies, salad dressings, and margarine.
Not surprising, genetically engineered cottonseed oil contains traces of the pesticides used in farming.
Once the cotton and seeds are removed, what’s left becomes cottonseed meal, a byproduct used for animal feed and fertilizer (which you wind up eating when you eat the animals fed genetically engineered cotton).
By supporting the production of organic cotton, you’re supporting more than just a fiber. You’re also voting for healthier food and feed!
The Use of Chemicals Doesn’t End With the Growing Season
Chemicals are used throughout the process of producing towels and sheets — starting with defoliation of the cotton plant for easier harvesting. After cotton is harvested, chemicals are used to process the cotton into cloth.
First, contaminants must be removed by bathing the cotton in water and cleansers. Next, caustic chemicals are used to remove dirt and debris.
Harsh chemicals are then used to soften the fibers and strip away their wavy texture.
The cotton yarn is then prepared for bleaching. Concentrated bleaches — either chlorine or hydrogen peroxide, or both — are applied to whiten the cotton. If chlorine is used, the process can release carcinogenic dioxins into the environment.
Because of cotton's natural resistance to dyes, about half of the chemicals used as dyes or fixers end up as waste in rivers and soil. Finally, after the cotton is dyed, a resin is applied to the sheeting to control shrinkage.
The Uninvited Nighttime Guest You Can’t See, Smell or Feel
If any of these terms apply to your sheets and towels, it’s very likely they’ve been treated or "finished" with formaldehyde:
- Polyester/cotton or percale blend
- "Wrinkle-resistant" 100% cotton
- Permanent press
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC), and like some pesticides, is a "probable" human carcinogen, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Cancer Institute (NCI).
In large enough amounts, formaldehyde can cause other problems, too.
Slowly releasing formaldehyde vapors can cause headaches, itching or burning eyes and nose, rashes, breathing difficulties, coughing, sore throat, joint pains, nausea, fatigue, and restless sleep.
Before you assume you can wash formaldehyde out of your sheets, consider this: What good would "wrinkle-free" fabric be if its treatment washed away? Manufacturers design it to stay locked within the fabric!
At least one study confirms this, too. After two washings of a cotton garment, there was no significant reduction in the amount of formaldehyde contained within its fibers.
Your Towels Most Likely Aren’t Much Better...
A few years back, China’s Consumer Foundation conducted a study to see what types of chemicals were present in bath towels.
The foundation purchased 23 cotton bath towels of different brands. Testing for the presence of chemicals, they found:
- Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of the towels contained fluorescent agents, which are potential skin irritants
- Over half, or 53 percent, contained formaldehyde
You might be wondering... Why would they add these potentially dangerous chemicals to towels?
It’s simple marketing: Fluorescent agents help make towels look brighter and more colorful. Formaldehyde is often added to make towels resistant to shrinkage.
Organic Cotton — Better for You,
Better for Farmers, and Better for the Environment
Organic cotton is the purest form of cotton, grown without dangerous pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, harsh chemicals, fertilizers, defoliants, sewage sludge, and genetically engineered seeds.
Organic–certified farmers grow organic cotton with the help of natural fertilizers, beneficial insects, and innovative weeding techniques. These systems replenish and maintain soil fertility while enhancing biodiversity to protect air and water.
As you can see in the diagram below, the systems used in producing organic cotton is better for farmers, the soil, water supplies, and animals and insects.
Here are some other important things you need to know about organic cotton:
- Its non-GE seeds haven’t been treated with fungicides or pesticides
- No harsh chemicals or synthetic fertilizers are used
- Reduces environmental footprint by using 71 percent less water and 62 percent less energy
- Plants are 80 percent rain-fed, reducing reliance on local water sources
- Reduces field emissions from fertilizer, as well as nitrogen and phosphorus deposits into water
- Increased soil protection helps prevent erosion
- Promotes safe work and better livelihoods for farmers
When you buy organic cotton, you are supporting cleaner air, water conservation efforts, improved soils, and a better life for farmers. You vote with your dollars!
Why There’s No Going Back Once You’ve Experienced Organic Cotton
You can feel the difference with organic cotton. It:
- Feels soft and comfortable next to your skin
- Absorbs and controls moisture
- Provides warmth and comfort
- Keeps you cool by pulling heat away from your skin
- Prevents moisture from building up between your skin and your clothes
- Allows air to flow easily through fibers and, unlike synthetic fibers, permits your skin to “breathe”
When you choose organic cotton sheets and towels, you often get better value for your money. Organic cotton has high tensile strength which becomes 30 percent stronger when wet, allowing it to withstand repeated washings and everyday use.
GOTS — Your Seal of Organic Authenticity
All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations regarding the type of seeds used and how the cotton is grown and processed.
So how can you be sure what you buy is really organic cotton?
Just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets standards for organic food, Global Organic Textile Standards, or GOTS provides third-party certification for the organic textile industry.
GOTS oversees the growing, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles made with at least 70 percent certified organic fiber.
Like organic food standards, a textile product carrying the GOTS Organic seal must contain a minimum of 95 percent certified organic fibers, while one with the “made with organic” label must contain a minimum of 70 percent certified organic fiber.
GOTS-certified textiles must be produced without conventional cotton’s pesticides, bioengineered ingredients, formaldehyde, chlorine bleaches, heavy metals or other harsh chemicals detrimental to humans and the environment.
When you buy certified organic cotton, you don’t need to wonder if it’s the "real deal." GOTS guarantees it!
Watch Out for Inflated Thread Counts When Buying Organic Sheets
If you’ve shopped for sheets lately, you’ve probably noticed a wide range of thread counts, some even as high as 1,000-plus. Is a higher thread-count sheet a better quality sheet?
Not necessarily... Some manufacturers have discovered that by manipulating the sheet production process with lower quality construction or thread, they can artificially inflate the thread count.
Just because a sheet has a high thread count, it doesn’t mean it’s a quality–made sheet. In certain cases, a high-quality 200–thread–count sheet can be a much better sheet than one that’s 1,000–thread count!
You need to look at other factors, like fiber length, weave, and type of fabric to get the true and complete picture.
A sheet made with organic cotton is typically a better quality sheet, regardless of thread-count. As we saw earlier, the higher tensile strength of organic cotton fiber allows it to hold up better with repeated washings and regular use.
The Stuff Sweet Dreams Are Made of...
Satiny Smooth, Certified Organic Cotton Sheets!
The ideal bed sheet, in my mind, is one that can give you years of comfortable, reliable use without excessive pilling that’s not only unsightly, but annoyingly nubby to the touch.
We paid attention to that detail when we created my Certified Organic Cotton Bedding. By using yarns that are ring spun (versus open end) compact yarns, there are fewer short fibers on the surface that can contribute to pilling.
These compact yarns use a special technique in spinning to remove the possibility of any short surface fibers. This helps yarns to have the smoothest, softest surface possible, which also adds more sheen to sateen fabric.
Sateen fabrics, like what we’ve used for my Certified Organic Cotton Bedding, are usually a little thicker and more tightly woven to create a luminous sheen and silky smooth surface.
Longer staple lengths of chosen organic cotton fibers make it possible for the spinner to spin better compact yarns. These compact yarns are more durable in terms of fabric strength and have a better pilling rating.
My GOTS–Certified Organic Cotton Sheets meet all the requirements for a high-quality sheet: certified organic cotton, a tight sateen weave, longer fibers, and a true 300-thread-count.
Mercola Organic Cotton Bath Sheets, Hand Towels, Wash Clothes, and Bath Mats — All GOTS Certified!
There’s nothing like stepping out of the shower and wrapping yourself in certified organic luxury...
But have you ever experienced a plush towel that just doesn’t seem to get you dry?
To solve the problem of “all plush but not much absorbency,” my Organic Cotton Towels are crafted using double yarn pile to form loops for more surface area to absorb water.
Unlike high twisted yarns found on some less absorbent towels, my towels feature a low twist to allow each yarn to absorb more water.
You end up with a tidier looking, lower pile, soft 2-ply towel with enhanced absorbency. And because of its double yarn pile, you get a towel that’s durable and long lasting.
Generously sized, the Mercola Organic Bath Sheet measures 30 by 64 inches. And with a density of 550 gsm (grams per square meter), you get the perfect balance between luxurious plushness and reasonable drying time.
The Bath Bundle Set comes with two bath sheets, two hand towels, and two washcloths in your choice of three stylish colors: white, off-white and gray.
Don’t need a full set? Bath sheets, hand towels, washcloths, and bath mats are available for individual purchase as well.
Best of all, items contain no formaldehyde, heavy metals, acetone, chlorine bleaches, GMOs, or potentially dangerous and harsh chemicals. And that’s guaranteed by GOTS!
Great Lasting Color Without the Potentially Dangerous Chemicals
My Certified Organic Cotton towels and sheets are dyed using low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes for great lasting color at the lowest impact possible.
A low–impact dye is a dye that has been classified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process) as eco-friendly. Generally, low-impact dyes do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants, chemicals that fix the dye to the fabric.
These health– and environmental–friendly dyes require less rinsing and have a high absorption rate in the fabric, which translates into less waste water.
Fiber–reactive dyes are low–impact dyes that bond directly with the fibers.
The benefits of using low-impact and fiber–reactive dyes include:
- Contain no heavy metals, formaldehyde, GMO’s, chlorine bleaches, acetone, or other potentially dangerous substances
- Colors are brighter and richer and are wash-fast
- Better for the environment because of less waste water runoff and energy savings
Low–impact dyes aren’t inexpensive. They cost much more than conventional dyes, but for something your body is exposed to daily, like sheets and towels, I believe it’s worth the extra cost.
Are You Ready to Step Up to Organic Cotton?
You’ve made the commitment to eat healthier foods. Now it’s time to take a closer look at how you live your life.
You spend a third of your life in direct contact with your bed sheets and bath towels. Don’t you and your loved ones deserve the added benefits and security of organic cotton?
Studies have confirmed that the risks are there, but you don’t need to take them. Especially when there are now far cleaner and affordable, stylish options.
When you choose organic cotton, you’re providing a healthier option for your family. But you’re doing much more, too. You’re helping to support small, independently owned and operated family farms that are trying to do the right thing for their families, their workers and their land.
With organic cotton, you’re supporting a cleaner, healthier world that benefits the environment and its inhabitants, including animals and insects.
Sure, choosing low-impact dyed organic cotton sheets and towels may cost a few cents more. But aren’t you and your health worth it?
Order your Certified Organic Cotton Sheets and Towels today!