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DCL

Earlier this week, my youngest child "graduated" from third grade. It was a bittersweet sight, seeing all those little kids stepping up and growing up. (Adding to my feeling of wooziness was the fact that it was mighty hot in the balcony of the pre-war public school auditorium.) As I looked around, I noticed that most of the parents were using the programs as makeshift fans, and though most were in cool cotton and linen, a few dads were stuck in gabardine suits, ready to hit the road for the office as soon as their kids exited the stage.

Cotton is a huge part of all our lives--"the fabric of our lives," as the marketing goes. But conventional cotton, though ubiquitous, is taking its toll on the land.

Did you know?

- More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the U.S.

- Conventional cotton occupies only 3% of the world's farmland, but uses 25% of the world's chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

- In the U.S. alone, it's estimated that 800 million pounds of pesticides will be used on cotton this year!

- Some of the chemicals used on conventional cotton include the infamous defoliant Paraquat and insecticides like Parathion which is 60 times more toxic that DDT

Think you don't eat it? Take a look at that ingredient near the top of those potato chips, cheese curls, corn chips--yup, cottonseed oil.

Now that you know the bad news, here's the good news, you can find organic cotton in the swankiest lines, like Edun, from the world's greatest rockstar Bono and wife Ali Hewson.

A few more brands I like include Loomstate; Hanna Andersson, which has great duds for little ones; and, my line, Green Babies, which made entirely from organic cotton. (I founded it 15 years ago after my first baby was born.)

You can get trendy organic at fly-off-the racks prices at H&M and Rogan Gregory has a line for women, for a limited time only at Target.

You can be part of the solution, and of huge positive change, by picking your cotton carefully and choosing organic.

Next week, I'll take you to meet an American organic cotton farmer, and hear what it's like on the field.

Lynda Fassa is Planet Green's babies and family expert. She's the founder of Green Babies organic cotton baby clothes and the author of Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, and the forthcoming Green Kids, Sage Families: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Family, both from Penguin NAL. Read her previous posts here.