We all love cotton. It is a great skin-friendly, natural material.
It is also earth-friendly, strong and versatile – an ideal material to represent your brand.
Cotton has been around for a very long time – did you know there are approximately 100 million cotton farmers producing cotton in 80 countries worldwide, including USA, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Greece, Australia and many others?
With about 80 billion new pieces of clothing coming off the production line every year, the demand for cotton – and low-cost clothing – is increasing year on year. Unfortunately, the increased competition also means that the price of cotton has slumped in the last decades, even though the cost of its production has risen.
And while satisfying our voracious appetites, this trend towards fast and cheap fashion often means that someone – or something – else is paying the price: 99% of cotton farmers, the majority using traditional, labour-intensive agricultural practices, live on the breadline in developing countries, while the soil and environment is getting degraded and poisoned by pesticides and fertilisers.
The Cotton Facts
The fashion industry and global supply chain is waking up to the fact that the impact of producing clothes cheaply and getting them in our shops as fast as possible are felt way beyond the cotton fields. The largely untested impacts of chemicals – used in the pesticides and fertilisers as a result of the increased use of GM modified seeds – on both the land and human health are beginning to be questioned by those working in the industry.
The case for organic cotton production
Fact: Organic cotton production saves water.
Organic farming uses traditional and new scientific knowledge and techniques to grow crops in a way that develops healthy, fertile soil, conserves biodiversity and protects natural resources – minimising the use of non-renewable and off-farm inputs.
Organic practices in cotton-growing promote healthier environments for the workers and the world. This means that:
80% of organic cotton production is rain-fed rather than irrigated.
Cotton farmers must keep their soils healthy in order to survive – and healthy soils are better at holding on to and soaking up water that comes from rain or irrigation.
Organic soils make better use of water inputs and are more resilient in drought conditions
Organic cotton is our alternative for sustainability, and an ethical supply chain. Applauded as the ‘gold standard’ for sustainability in the textile, fashion and clothing industry, organic cotton delivers impressive results.
The textile industry has a complex and massive supply chain, with numerous production processes spanning countries and trades – from the point where the original cotton fibres are grown, all the way to where the final products reach our hands. The case for organic cotton is strong:
What are we doing?
As leaders in global sourcing, we take this very seriously. We already work with partners and suppliers globally that are signed up to the case for organic cotton, in particular with suppliers and partners of our branded cotton shopping bags and branded t-shirts.
We understand that we cannot all switch all our textile orders immediately to organic cotton. However, we stand by our commitment to source ethically and promote our approach to improving sustainable thinking in the use of marketing materials. We wanted to share with you the impact cotton production has on our environment, so that you can consider organic cotton as part of your responsible sourcing programmes. There are many ways you can do this in such as moving even a small part of your printed t-shirts of bags to organic. Or perhaps committing to providing only organic printed T-shirts for your charity or volunteering activity. Be part of the #change and add to your #responsible business practices.
Our own sourcing campaign – Buy Right, Get it Right – means that we buy products that are sourced ethically and with consideration to both people and planet. Well-branded promotional products, from the right source, create great brand awareness!
What to look out for
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the world’s leading organic textile processing standard. It ensures that textiles are truly organic at every stage of production – from ginning, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling of the final product.
Hand in hand with organic cotton is Fairtrade. Fairtrade practices and organic complement each other perfectly – Fairtrade focuses on improving the working and living conditions of the many farmers and workers in the supply chain.