While cotton cultivation is crucial to many developing economies, it can also have a hefty impact on the environment. About 10 per cent of agricultural chemicals used worldwide are processed by the cotton sector. While organic methods are slowly growing, organic cotton only makes up around one per cent of the global cotton supply chain.
Some brands are switching their supply chains over to more sustainable sources now, while buoying efforts to increase access to sustainable raw materials. Adidas aims to source 100 per cent of the cotton it uses — across all product categories and in all its brands — as sustainable cotton by 2018.
H&M is one of the world’s leading buyers of organic cotton. It is also an user of recycled cotton. The fast fashion giant’s ultimate aim is to source 100 per cent of its cotton from sustainable sources by 2020. Pantagonia began the exclusive use of organically-grown cotton in all of its products in 1996.
Levi Strauss is working with the Better Cotton Initiative to train farmers to grow cotton using less water. It plans to continue working with its global suppliers with the goal of sourcing about 75 per cent Better Cotton by 2020 up from six per cent today.