Name: Sened Abraham id: M80008143 Section: 004 Date: 29/04/2020 Word: 1111

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Why Cotton is Bad: Child Labour and

Environmental Issues

Name: Sened Abraham

ID: M80008143

Section: 004

Date: 29/04/2020
Word: 1111

The article “Children Labor in Cotton” (2016) gives some general information about cotton. Cotton comes from cultivated plants from the genus Gossypium. Cotton is mostly known for its adaptability and performance. The most common countries in which cotton is grown are the USA, Uzbekistan, and Australia. The cultivation of cotton starts in spring when the temperature is above 16 degree Celsius. There are many species of cotton, but the famous ones are Upland cotton, Pima cotton, and Asiatic cotton. Finally, most of the time typical cotton is cultivated with a yellowish colour but it can be naturally coloured in to red and green. Cotton is soft, easy to stretch, and it is more comfortable to wear. However, you should try not to buy cotton because it is bad for the environment and the workers might not be treated fairly.

The first reason to not purchase cotton is because the workers are treated badly. The article “The Child Labour Behind Our Cotton” (2007) explains the difficult conditions of the children who work on the cotton farms. Firstly, the age of most child labours range between six and seventeen. Have you ever felt guilty to buy cotton made by these young pure children? Even though, the children work all day from 6am to 12 am- midnight, they only get paid only $1 which is unfair. This condition of working all day forms barriers to their education, which is illegal because it leads them to more poverty and illiteracy. Furthermore, while we spend our money on buying expensive cotton products, the children cannot even buy decent food by their terrible salary. The working conditions are tough: they remove cotton pests by their hands, they harvest it by themselves, they carry heavy sacks at harvest time, and most of the time they are exposed to toxic chemicals. If you had a younger brother or sister, would you be able to let them handle this kind of horrible job? The article “Children Labor in Cotton” (2016) discusses about the miserable life of the child cotton farm workers in Uzbekistan. Like the article “The Child Labour Behind our cotton (2007) also explains about the young age of the children which is from five to eighteen. This is the age in which children need to spend more time with their parents and friends for their mental wellbeing. The children have a hard-working life: they carry heavy water and they cross pollinate the plants manually. We humans like to buy cotton products, but have we ever felt curious about the children who pick the cotton in the harsh working condition? If the children lost a single cotton seed, the owners would use pipes to beat them. How would you feel if they beat you with pipes for losing only one cotton seed? Do you think it is fair enough to be awfully punished like that? Finally, the owners would sexually abuse and rape the female child workers if they collected poor quality cotton. How would you feel if they treated your younger sister in the same way? Would you accept that? To sum up, we should stop buying cotton because it is not fair for the child workers in the cotton farms.

The second reason to not purchase cotton is because it damages the environment. In the article “The Environmental costs of Cotton”, Frederick (2019) explains the environmental issues of growing cotton in the United States. Firstly, Cotton uses immense amount of water and as a result the cotton farmers depend on heavy irrigation that can lead to soil salination and drain ground water. This soil salination can decrease the availability of water to the plants and may cause plant stress. Additionally, cotton production requires plenty amount of water that it has nearly made the Aral Sea disappear. The overflow of synthetic fertilizers to the streams can result into the destruction of aquatic lives and the dead zone around the coastal areas. Thus, while we are pleased with our beautiful cotton clothes, these poor aquatic animals are fighting against these fertilizers to save their lives. Have you ever thought that the human activities are the ones to be responsible for awfully destroying the marine habitats? Furthermore, the consequences of climate change on the environment due to cotton cultivation are huge: nitrogen released from the chemicals causes contamination of drinking water and global warming which can lead to the extinction of animals and plants. Would you be able to accept watching your family falling in the risk of becoming ill by drinking dirty water? Most animals and plants live with a specific climatic condition, and the change in the climate can make the animals extinct. In the article “Why is cotton harmful to the Soil?”, Gold (n.d.) discusses the negative effects of growing cotton on the environment. Like the article “The Environmental costs of Cotton”, Frederick (2019) this author also explains the huge amount of water cotton uses to produce only one kind of cloth. Do you really think it is fair enough that much amount of water to be wasted only on one piece of cloth? The extreme use of chemicals against cotton pests have led to the contamination of the ground water and soil. Imagine how many of the living things will be horribly affected if the groundwater and soil is polluted? Finally, the genetically modified cotton crops damage most nutrients of the soil and many essential microorganisms. If most of the nutrients in the soil are destroyed, the soil in which the cotton is grown is essentially dead. What would you expect to happen if there is no soil? To put it briefly, we should not purchase cotton because it is harmful for the environment.

Try to purchase less cotton because it can be harmful to the environment and can be bad treatment for the child workers in the cotton farms. The two big issues of child labour are the young age of the child workers and their difficult working life. The children are young in age: instead of enjoying their lives and learning they are working all day. Moreover, they carry hard sacks and harvest under unfavourable weather. In terms of environment problems, buying cotton causes air and soil pollution. The chemicals used against cotton pests release nitrogen dioxide into the air which is toxic to all living things. The modified crops damage the nutrients and microorganisms of the soil and this pollutes the soil. Therefore, two possible solutions can be buying fair traded cotton and replacing cotton by hemp fibre. Given our growing dependence on cotton for many purposes, such as clothing and cosmetics, is a situation that is likely to continue in the future.


Child Labour in Cotton (2016). International Labour Organization. Retrieved March 5,2020 from

Frederic, B. (2019). The environmental costs of cotton. ThoughtCo. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from

Gold, R. (n.d). Why is Cotton Harmful to the soil? Hunker. Retrieved March 20,2020 from

The Child Labour Behind Our Cotton (2007). Environmental Justice Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2020from

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