Cotton is one of the world's most important crops. 250 million people are dependent on cotton farming for their livelihood – and without cotton, there wouldn't be a fashion industry!
Nevertheless, doubts remain about cotton. Child labour and other social problems are all too commonly associated with the world's cotton fields. Chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used too frequently and in the wrong way. The high water consumption of cotton farming is another problem at many locations.
Better Cotton Initiative is trying to solve these problems. The organization educates cotton farmers on the importance of children attending school, how to use agricultural chemicals in a responsible way and water conservation techniques.
Gina Tricot has been a member of Better Cotton Initiative for three years:
“We particularly appreciate that Better Cotton Initiative is concrete and practical,” says Gina Tricot's Head of Sustainability, Marcus Bergman. “They offer comprehensive training to farmers and they work with real examples in field. In this way, you can see that the methods really work and that change is possible. It is usually very hard to change ingrained ideas and behaviours, but Better Cotton demonstrates that good crop yields are possible with sustainable farming practices. This matters to the farmers, because they simply won't use sustainable methods if they aren't profitable.”
Better Cotton Initiative is a rapidly growing organization. During 2015, the project will target cotton fields totalling more than 2 million hectares. This expansion is possible thanks to the support from large companies and organizations.
“Better Cotton is a great example of how cooperation is the key to sustainability in the textile industry,” says Marcus Bergman. “The world's leading textile purchasers are members of Better Cotton and the organization also has support from, e.g. SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) and WWF(World Wildlife Fund). If you compare to other industries, I really do think that the textile industry has come quite far when it comes to cooperation. And that's the key!”