Organic. When we talk about being eco-friendly what comes to your mind? Organic maybe? It's important to know that Organic doesn't always mean eco-friendly (and, vice versa!)
Let's look at Cotton. At a recent panel held by Cotton Inc., a research group for the cotton industry, various key speakers pointed out that conventional cotton varieties have a higher yield - meaning, a single plant of conventional cotton will produce more fiber than it's organic version.
Because of that, it takes more land to grow the same amount of Organic cotton as Conventional Cotton. More land means more water. For instance it'll take about 290 gallons of water to grow enough conventional cotton to produce a single t-shirt, whereas that same t-shirt in organic cotton used 660 gallons of water. That disparity continues for any cotton product, like jeans, or shopping tote bags.
The organic cotton industry is actively improving their yields all the time, so soon we hope that organic cotton will be the eco-friendly material it wants to be.
Organic does mean no pesticides, chemical herbicides, or synthetic fibers, which is of course good for the environment. It's breathable and soft, and actually biodegradable. So when you are making a choice as a consumer, just know that the "Organic" label doesn't always mean it's better for the environment.
Want to learn more about other eco-friendly materials? Here's a great breakdown from online retailer Vetta.