Can we agree it’s needless to say we care deeply about sustainability and the impact of cotton production on the environment? Alright, then. That being said, we understand and embrace your concerns about the choices we make when it comes to organic cotton or conventional cotton production. So it’s time to clarify the one-million-dollar question: is organic cotton really better than conventional cotton?
While organic cotton is often touted as a more sustainable option due to its reduced use of chemicals, it's important to note that its production still requires significant amounts of water. As shown in our latest Impact Report, growing and dyeing conventional cotton for one single shirt can produce 1,27 kg of CO2, the equivalent of driving a car for almost 10 km. In this stage, the production uses an average of 10.000 kg of water but the value can rise to 20.000 kg in countries that have little irrigation and technology, which sadly is the case for the biggest cotton producers worldwide. Organic cotton, on the other hand, being mostly rain-fed, saves up to 79% on water and almost 60% on emissions, which is much better, but not ideal. While organic cotton may have some advantages in terms of reducing chemical inputs and promoting better water management, it’s definitely not a silver bullet to addressing water consumption in cotton production.
Additionally, organic cotton is often grown in regions that are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts and floods. This can affect the crop yields and livelihoods of local farmers, leading to social and economic challenges. Moreover, the certification process for organic cotton can be costly, making it difficult for small-scale farmers to afford certification and limiting their access to organic farming practices.
Lastly, organic cotton production in the US, for example, is relatively small compared to global demand, resulting in the need for long-distance transportation. This can result in increased carbon emissions associated with transportation and contribute to the overall environmental footprint of organic cotton.
So, what could be a more sustainable solution? The most viable option is to use existing resources such as recycled or deadstock fabrics. These fabrics are made from materials that have already been produced, reducing the demand for new raw materials and minimizing waste. In fact, recycling one ton of cotton textiles can save thousands of litres of water, CO2 emissions and chemical fertilizers, which demonstrates the potential of recycled fabrics in reducing environmental impact and promoting circular economy principles. Another sustainable alternative is choosing linen or Tencel fabrics over cotton. Their production is in Europe, and the Eucalyptus trees used for Lyocell production are rain-fed. They’re also pretty as heck, but you already know that.
Sustainable fashion is a multifaceted issue that requires careful consideration of various factors, including water consumption, climate impacts, certification costs, and transportation emissions. We’re committed to continually evaluating and improving our materials choices to minimize our environmental impact and promote a more responsible fashion industry. As responsible consumers, let's all make a conscious effort to be more mindful of our choices, including organic cotton x conventional cotton fashion ones. Deal? Deal.