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What is Natural Cotton?

All Cotton is natural, right?  Well, yes and no. 

There is a range of natural - from cotton which is grown in certified organic fields and processed without chemicals, to cotton which has been grown using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Our robes and towels from Gilden Tree are made using "Natural Cotton".
Modern farming methods often lead to spraying Cotton plants  with a chemical defoliant just before picking. The defoliant wilts the leaves and makes it easier to harvest the cotton bolls. Of course the cotton itself is soaked in defoliant too, and during the manufacturing process other chemicals are used to "improve" the fibers. Technically, it's still "natural" because it's still a plant, but the effect of this chemical use has a negative impact on the people, plants and land it's used on.

Since 1990, Gilden Tree has worked with Pakistani farmers and their manufacturers to create soft, truly natural cotton garments that are free of defoliants, dyes and synthetic chemicals. Their naturally-colored products are simply the color of cotton in nature, and whites are Peroxide-bleached.

Why Peroxide and not Chlorine? 
Chlorine bleach has  along history of being used to bleach fabric, but at great cost to the environment. An extremely harmful compound called Dioxin is created as a byproduct of chlorine bleach manufacturing. Dioxin accumulates in the fat tissue of humans and wildlife, is known to cause birth defects, and genetic mutations, and is a suspected carcinogen. Accidental release of Dioxin has already caused untold damage to the environment. 

Peroxide does not create Dioxin and has been used for years by both parents and doctors to sterilize wounds and instruments and has been approved as a natural bleaching agent in Europe.

What about the towels which are different colors?
For items which are dyed, low-impact, reactive dyes are used, which are processed at a cooler temperature than traditional dyes,  and are generally less harmful to the environment. These dyes are all OekoTex Certified, and Azo-free.

What about Organic Cotton?
Gilden Tree is often asked if their cotton is "organic cotton". To be certified organic means that a farmer has met strict requirements for growing, and that a certifying authority has overseen and approved the process. In Pakistan, there is no certifying authority, and so that cotton cannot be "certified organic."

However, their cotton is carefully grown with as little chemical usage as possible and is not sprayed with defoliants before being picked.  Gentle, mechanical means are used to soften and strengthen the fabric and white products are only bleached with Peroxide. 

When we find a high quality organic waffle weave, we'll bring it to you, but for now, we're excited to be offering Gilden Tree's Natural Cotton robes and towels.