Years ago, we learned about the reported connection between cotton farming, pesticides and the high incidence of a serious disease amongst American cotton farmers. It was a documentary on fast fashion called The True Cost that shared the studies and made us think twice about the way we shopped fashion. Eventually, that concern turned us on to shopping organic cotton home goods too.
We decided to talk to Missy Tannen, founder of ethical home goods brand, Boll & Branch, and were equally as shocked to learn from her about practices on Indian cotton farms as she details below.
After our interview with Missy, we’re reminded of just how deep the impact of sustainable shopping can be. By shopping responsible and sustainable brands, we feel we are shaping our economy for the better and potentially impacting the lives of those creating the products we fill our homes with. Read Missy’s interview to learn more…
I am relentless in creating the best bedding that is humanly possible. I realize that our customers are choosing to spend their time and money with us, and I wouldn’t want to ever let them down. And now that we are in our sixth year of business, and thousands of people across the world are making our products, I want to do everything I possibly can to continue providing them with fair wages, safe working conditions and happier lives.
We’re now the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Organic Cotton (Textile Exchange) and ours was the first fully Fair Trade Certified bedding.
Why organic cotton matters… | Before launching Boll & Branch, my husband, Scott, and I spent about a year of our lives learning everything we could about cotton and textile manufacturing. Yes, we had used lots of cotton throughout our lives but hadn’t really thought about the actual plant or the farming that went into it. When we realized the positive impact that it has on the farmers, the environment, and the exceptional products we can make with it, there was no turning back! (In fact, we were so inspired by what organic cotton can do that we named our company after it… just Google image search “cotton boll on a branch”!)
+ For farmers | People who work at conventional cotton farms interact every day with all of the toxic chemicals used in the growing process. Pesticide poisoning is linked to thousands of deaths each year. In many developing countries, where they don’t have access to heavy industrial machinery, pesticides are carried in containers on their backs. When we started Boll & Branch, the average life expectancy of a conventional cotton farmer in India was 35 years old…. yes, the chemicals carried on their backs and pesticide poisoning is heartbreaking, but the suicide rate was staggering. Many conventional farmers found themselves in such deep debt because they had to take expensive loans to pay for pesticides and fertilizers to produce conventional cotton. All of the organic cotton we purchase is picked by hand and grown without the use of pesticides.
+ For the planet | Organic cotton is produced without synthetic fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. Conventional cotton, on the other hand, uses more insecticides than any other crop. In addition, our organic cotton doesn’t need any additional water or irrigation…we rely only on rain that falls from the sky!
Pesticide runoff from conventional cotton farms doesn’t just affect people—it also kills millions of fish, birds and other animals annually. Organic cotton processes eliminate this danger.
Cotton is one of the world’s thirstiest plants. But organic cotton requires less water. Organic farmers don’t need to irrigate as intensely, because they’re working with healthier soil from the start. The result is a more efficient process that uses significantly less water.
On creating a peaceful bedroom | I’m drawn to a neutral color palette for the master bedroom. It creates a cozy, peaceful, reflective space. Life is busy, fun and fast-paced, but I find a sense of quietness and comfort when I’m in my bed.
Any good sleeping tips? | Invest in your pillow. Everyone has a different definition of what they are looking for, so I recommend getting to sleep on a few options before you can know what you prefer. Look for companies that have great return policies (like ours!) where you can try a pillow out, and return it if it’s not perfect for you.
Tips for that dreaded bottom sheet? | Ah, the pesky storage issue…I actually made a video here to solve the problem!