The Greening of India

By Alterra Pure   |  

How an Organic Farming Village is the Water-Saving Model of the Future

The Sanskrit language has 70 words for water – 280, if you count prefixes that make words, like waters, waterfall, rain, rainfall, etc. In India, water is more than essential, it’s sacred.

Today, 21% of the country’s diseases are waterborne and 100 million homes lack potable water – and the conventional corporate agricultural systems that produce the vast majority of the textiles we buy are the primary culprit.

When we consider that water is the source of life and vitality for every organism, including cotton plants, we know to treat it with the same respect as they do in the small villages of India. Specifically in Odisha, where we grow and gin the cotton that makes Alterra Pure sheets and bedding, and where a long lineage of traditional farmers have been making the healthiest textiles available for generations.

Indian villages, like those in Odisha, are far more advanced than much of the developed world with agricultural methods that protect the safety of the water supply:

Pest-resistant cotton varietals. Sustainable farming villages in Odisha plant naturally pest-resistant, non-GMO varietals of cotton. This not only avoids the use of unnecessary chemicals, but also saves a lot of money. Conventional cottons (non-organic and planted from GMO seeds) account for over $2 billion worth of toxic pesticides each year. More importantly, one million farm workers receive medical treatment each year from pesticide poisoning (WHO/FAO). So using naturally pest-resistant cottons, not only protects our natural resources but more importantly, saves lives.

photo: Organic G.hirsutum MCU 5 cotton in early boll development.  
© Alterra Pure 2018

Fair Trade Cotton. So what does Fair Trade have to do with a clean water supply? With fair compensation comes a healthy economy, which can provide the often elusive funds needed to investigate and solve natural or infrastructural devastation. For example, Guatemalan coffee cooperatives supported by Fair Trade wages were able to set up an organization that restores schools, installs water pumps, and even develop a plan to fight a plague of ‘coffee leaf rust’ that was inhibiting production. Our own Fair Trade cotton co-op used funds to supply farmers with LP gas stoves, which reduced wood burning, improving the health of their homes and the environment. When you purchase sheets sourced from Fair Trade facilities, you’re supporting the continued improvement of the communities that grow cotton, including those suffering from devastating water shortages.

photo:  Fair Trade and Farmer Training Center,
organic village near Kantabanjhi, Odisha, India 
© Alterra Pure 2018

 About ¾ of the world’s cotton crops rely on irrigation, which impacts water with run-off from the pesticides and fertilizers used on conventionally-grown cotton and wastes significant amounts of water each year from overflow and evaporation. However, Odisha’s unique agricultural methods don’t irrigate. Our farm co-ops rely on rainwater exclusively, requiring no additional irrigation.

And our factory creates zero water discharge. This LEED certified facility, recovers all the water used in the textile process. The filtration plant is so effective, the recycled water can be consumed within hours upon reaching the treatment plant – and we’ve tasted it ourselves. It’s a fully closed-loop system, with not a precious drop wasted. 

 photo:  water reclamation and purifying plant 
Birla Century Textile Mill, Gujarat, India
© Alterra Pure 2018

This is what makes Alterra Pure the most comprehensively sustainable sheets, duvets, and bedding available – and this system is possible everywhere and for every product if we empower the people in more farming villages to co-create economic and agricultural systems that are fundamentally ethical and healthy. We’re moving forward on the principles of equity, wellness, and the sacredness of the planet and its most valuable resource – water.

And sheets are only the beginning. Our plan is to take this practice across the world, so basic home essentials will foster community and regenerate the land that nourishes us.

Alterra Pure offers organic certified and verified sheets, duvets, duvet covers, and other bedding to assure the peace of mind of a pure nights sleep.  What you put on top of your mattress sits next to your skin for a third of your life.  We are committed to assuring the most healthful sleep possible.