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Organics for the Orcas

Today marks the first day of Organic September when we celebrate all things grown organically: which includes our organic cotton for our string bags.

The GOTS (Global Organic Textile) mark on our bags means that the cotton has been grown without the help of synthetic chemicals, such as fertilisers and pesticides.

The extent to which synthetic chemicals accumulate in our environment, moving between generations of animals and up the food chain, is only now beginning to be thoroughly understood.

Some of the chemical pesticides which were banned decades ago are still lurking in the environment and doing harm.

The Whale and Dolphin Society joins the dots eloquently in the animation shown below, launched just last week. The animation tells the story of an Orca, Lulu. Not long into the new year of 2016, tragedy struck when a female killer whale was found dead on the shore at Crossapol on the Isle of Tiree. She was a member of the small pod that has lived off the west coast of Scotland since the 1980s, and had been named Lulu.

Some of our inheritance is invisible and like the Orcas we humans too carry around our own toxic chemical load. In the early 2000s, when the effects of some of the most toxic chemicals in our environment were being explored I was involved in an intriguing investigation.

I took part in a campaign alongside the formidable Federation of WIs and WWF to explore the chemicals that we humans carry around in our bodies The campaign was known as DetoX.

As part of the study in 2004, I inflicted three generations of my family to blood tests to explore the extent of toxic and bio accumulative chemicals in our blood. The younger members of the family were found to have over 30 toxic chemicals in their blood and more than their grandmother. The survey reveals that children as young as nine years old are not only contaminated with a cocktail of hazardous man-made chemicals, but can have higher concentrations of certain newer chemicals than older generations.

The subsequent campaign to change the legislation took me to Brussels on three separate occasions. The high profile campaign by WWF and the federation of WI amongst others culminated in the game changing legislation across the EU now known as the REACH legislation. This legislation introduced regulation into the chemical industry and bought the onus on chemical companies across Europe to prove safe use recommendations.

Whilst many of the most toxic pesticides such as PCBs are now banned, how pesticides operate in our environment and the interaction between them is yet to be fully understood.

We are doing a favour, not only for the Orcas, but for ourselves by seeking out and celebrating organic production.

For more information on organic cotton production, and how making the switch to organic production transformed the livelihoods of the communities of farmers, including Benal, see our short film COTTONING ON made on location in India 2019.

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