Egyptian Cotton Scandal
Egyptian Cotton is acclaimed for its long threads, quality, and softness. So, when you spend money on buying "Egyptian Cotton" sheets, you would expect it to really be Egyptian cotton, right? Well, in recent times, Egyptian Cotton's reputation and quality have declined due to a lack of regulation. Consumers across the world have been conned into buying products made of cheaper, lower-quality cotton blends even though the label says "Egyptian Cotton".
Egyptian Cotton, not made in Egypt?
It's down to simple economics, Egypt cannot produce enough cotton to keep up with global demand. A drop in global cotton prices and the removal of cotton farming subsidies by the Government means that Egyptian cotton production is at a historic low (nearly 83% less than 10 years ago), yet consumer demand for luxury bed sheets is at an all-time high! So, the cotton is grown elsewhere, often in China, and packaged and labelled as long-staple, luxury Egyptian cotton by manufacturers who know how to cut corners.
Those new Egyptian cotton sheets you just bought may very well have no Egyptian cotton in them at all!
Organic Cotton or Egyptian Cotton?Egyptian Cotton is losing its notoriety. Today, only 1% of the Egyptian cotton produced is actually made in Egypt. So what should you look for? Well, there are four commercially-grown species of cotton which are then divided into a large number of varieties and hybrids:
- Gossypium hirsutum
- Gossypium barbadense
- Gossypium arboreum
- Gossypium herbaceum
But you don't need to know everything about them!
Make sure you look for:
- A smaller brand who can tell you where their cotton is grown with traceability and accountability.
- Long Staple Thread Cotton, as it is the short-staple threads which cause cotton to pill over time.
- Organic Cotton Certification, which is highly regulated by the Global Textile Standard (GOTS) ensuring the cotton is produced without toxic pesticides and chemicals which damage the cotton itself, as well as the environment and the workers who handle it. Did you know that non-organic cotton uses 25% of world's pesticides?
- Fairtrade certification ensures the farmers and factory workers are paid fairly and work in safe conditions which are always free from child labour and slavery (sadly, these are common practices in the cotton industry).