We tend to think of cotton as a natural material and therefor a fairly sustainable material but it really isn’t. Why ?
- Cotton is a very thirsty crop and requires a large amounts of water for irrigation if cultivated properly and the diversion of entire rivers into huge irrigation channels in Central Asia has led to the gradual drying-up of the Aral Lake, one of the largest inland waters in the world.
- Cotton is a very pesticide intensive crop. Although it only grows on 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, it consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 6,8% of all herbicides used worldwide.
- The biggest cotton production is done in developing countries where most of the cotton growers are small farmers. In normal (conventional) cotton production, farmers apply hazardous chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides in large quantities resulting in disastrous impacts for health and environment.
- The high cost of pesticides coupled with the declining effectiveness over time means that cotton farmers end up needing greater and greater quantities, causing them to spiral into greater debt. Every year, thousands of farmers commit suicide because they cannot pay their debts.
- Use less virgin cotton and more recycled cotton
- Use organic and Fairtrade cotton, in order make sure the farmers are protected from harmful pesticides and economic debts.
- Reduce water consumption by making clothes that require less washing, drying and ironing as one load of washing uses almost 200 litres of water and one load of drying uses 5 times more energy than one load of washing. By skipping drying and ironing, you will reduce your carbon footprint by 1/3 !
- Make sure the clothing we produce are well-made and long lasting. Include features that increases the clothing’s lifespan ie. longer hem, easier fit etc.
- Use Hemp, Tencel, Bamboo Viscose or Recycled Polyester which are much more sustainable to produce.
Watch this video by WWF to get an idea of cottons impact on our environment.
Source: www.worldwildlife.org My sustainable T-shirt www.organiccotton.org