by Stephanie Malangone
It might seem like sustainability is just the latest fad in fashion, but according to a pledge signed by more than 36 major brands, the move toward eco friendly clothing will last at least another 8 years -- and most likely beyond.
Many of the top names in fashion, including H&M, Adidas, Timberland, Hanky Panky and more have signed a pledge to use 100% sustainable organic cotton by the year 2025, following art & eden’s existing efforts to produce organic children’s clothing. CSR Wire has published a complete list of brands who have made the pledge, which the International Sustainability Unit also released publicly.
(Girl in Cotton Field: https://unsplash.com/photos/8OChC-pCyDQ)
The brands are in varying stages in their progress; some are just beginning to draw up plans for sourcing organic cotton while others have already incorporated sustainable cotton and are now shifting their attention to strategic development of environmental and social change. Regardless of the many moving parts and collaborators, fashion labels and nonprofit cotton associations alike have affirmed that they need to form a unified front in the battle for sustainable clothing.
While there is much to be said for organic cotton's health and environmental benefits, many people wonder if it really is better than conventionally grown cotton. What, in the end, makes organic cotton count as sustainable fashion?
One main argument for organic cotton is that it prohibits pesticides used in conventional cotton. One conventional cotton t-shirt requires 1/3 pounds of pesticides! Still, organic cotton sometimes uses natural pesticides such as Rotetone, a better step but not our ultimate ideal.
Another unresolved challenge with organic cotton is that it still requires massive amounts of water. It can take up to 2,700 liters of water to make one t-shirt. This is a cause for concern when speaking about what is best for the environment. Water conservation is certainly a factor in determining how sustainable organic cotton actually is. That said, the same organic cotton alliances that are using water in production are also finding ways to save water in farming processes. For instance, through the Better Cotton Initiative, the World Wildlife Fund is making great strides in helping farmers reduce their water consumption by 39%.
Conventional cotton is known to retain a higher yield than organic cotton, which means you can grow more of it with fewer resources. Again, when building out sustainable fashion, this option can look more enticing. But the flip side is again the cost of that higher yield--rampant use of toxic pesticides, workers' rights violations, and a self-defeating cycle of GMO reliance.
Because of these factors, the conversation about whether organic cotton is truly better for the environment is ongoing and ever-evolving. Regardless, the efforts taken by the 36 top fashion brands to make the world a better place is admirable, especially because it helps show the world and the cotton industry that there is a real demand for organic, sustainable cotton and other fibers. This is the first step to a better cotton harvesting process, developments in technology that can further help our environment and even an array of other organic clothing options that haven't been brought into circulation yet.If this piqued your curiosity, be sure to check our back often for more stories on organic children’s clothing and their impact on both the market and the environment.