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 Gilden Tree towels 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 using this chemical creates 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 towels that are free of defoliants and synthetic chemicals. Their products are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified, an international recognition of using eco-friendly practices throughout the manufacturing process.  Many people with chemical sensitivities are able to use Gilden Tree's waffle towels without causing a reaction.

White towels are peroxide-bleached and colored towels are dyed using eco-friendly dyes and practices.

Why Peroxide and not Chlorine? 
Chlorine bleach has a long 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?
When we dye an item, we use low-impact, reactive dyes. That means that our fabric is processed at a cooler temperature than traditional dyes, which is also less harmful to the environment. These dyes are all OekoTex Certified, (an international certification) 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. It's expensive to be certified, and is a cost most small farmers In Pakistan cannot afford. 

We've chosen instead to encourage even small farmers to produce what we call "Natural Cotton". 

Natural Cotton is carefully grown with as little chemical usage as possible and is not sprayed with defoliants before being picked.  

Once in our facility, we use gentle, mechanical means to soften and strengthen the fabric and use only peroxide to bleach our white products.