Impact Of Cotton

Cotton represents nearly half the fiber used for clothes and other textiles worldwide, yet consumes 24% and 11% of all insecticide and pesticides respectively.

Cotton represents nearly half the fiber used for clothes and other textiles worldwide, yet consumes 24% and 11% of all insecticide and pesticides respectively.

Cotton represents nearly half the fiber used to make clothes and other textiles worldwide, with much of the rest coming from synthetic products. Unsustainable cotton farming, with massive inputs of water and pesticides, has already been responsible for the destruction of large-scale ecosystems and the deteriorating health and livelihoods of the people living there.

2.4% of the world’s crop land is planted with cotton, yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively.

water pollution

Due to inappropriate water management and irrigation technology, pesticide water run-off from fields into adjacent rivers, wetlands and lakes is common, which leads to direct toxic contamination of said ecosystems. In contrast with pesticides, fertilizers are not directly toxic but instead alter the nutrient system and therefore the species composition of a specific freshwater ecosystem. Their most dramatic effect is eutrophication of a freshwater body; an explosive growth of algae that causes disruption to the biological equilibrium, including killing fish.

Impacts on freshwater ecosystems can also be caused indirectly by human use of other resources than freshwater, such as land, vegetation and air. For example, the reduction of vegetation cover, increased soil compaction and surface sealing reduce infiltration and increase run-off and soil erosion, thus altering the water balance of a catchment area.

Freshwater ecosystems are linked to land ecosystems. Therefore, a severe impact on one can influence the other. The poisoning of birds and insects in a land ecosystem through pesticides for example can alter the food chain and thus impact the neighboring freshwater system.

land reclaimation

Land Reclamation

The increase in arable land leads directly to a change from a natural landscape to an agricultural area. In particular, flood plains and wetlands with their flat shape and usually fertile soil are preferable areas for agriculture and irrigation schemes. However, due to drainage of the soil and to the monocultural cultivation of cotton, the farmland no longer provides a habitat for its original plants and animals.

Generally, the remaining natural habitats are fragmented into isolated pieces which are too small to secure the continued existence of the natural ecosystem. Even though this initially concerns terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands, freshwater ecosystems in rivers or lakes are affected by the interrupted links between ecosystems.

Loss and fragmentation of habitats is caused not only by the agricultural area itself but also the surrounding infrastructures. This also applies to roads, buildings and a population migration into newly developed areas as well as dams and their effects. Besides the resultant direct loss of land, further impacts like nutrient turn-over and siltation will be accentuated.

READ ABOUT THE IMPACT OF SYNTHETIC TEXTILES