By Ethical Performance — From its localized beginnings 5,000 years ago in Mexico and the Indus Valley in India, cotton has grown to be the most widely used natural fiber crop used in clothing today. Cotton is now produced globally, in the US, India, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Mexico, among other countries. But it is also a crop that requires a lot of water for irrigation, and a heavy use of herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides. Its strong impact on the environment through these current practices has come increasingly into question, raising a correspondingly strong interest in sustainably grown cotton.
Now, a coalition of leading international brands and retailers, industry standards, and existing initiatives, along with NGOs and other stakeholders, have joined to form Cotton 2040 to promote sustainable cotton.
Convened by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future
, with support from the C&A Foundation
, this cross-industry initiative is driving change by taking collaborative action to scale up and overcome barriers to sustainable cotton uptake, so that more sustainable cotton becomes a mainstream commodity.
Cotton 2040 includes retailers M&S and Target; industry standards Better Cotton Initiative and Cotton Made in Africa (CMiA); organic standards (represented by Textile Exchange); the Fairtrade Foundation; industry initiatives Cotton Connect, IDH, Cotton Australia, Value Added in Africa, and Organic Cotton Accelerator, as well as the London College of Fashion.
1 Building demand for more sustainable cotton: enabling an increased demand for sustainable cotton within the fashion and apparel industry
2 Closing the loop on cotton: scaling up cotton recycling and circularity
3 Traceability: building greater visibility and transparency throughout the cotton value chain and across standards
4 Upskilling for resilience: creating a cross-industry forum to build resilience among smallholder cotton farmers in a changing world.
In coming months, working groups will be developing best practice in work streams across these areas, to share with the wider industry.
The coalition is now looking for additional partners with resources, expertise and drive to take action in one or more of these four areas together. In particular, it is inviting organisations to get involved in the ‘Building Demand’ work stream and benefit from testing and piloting the framework internally.