Without a doubt, cotton is one of the most popular choices for both consumers and manufacturers around the globe. The fact that 50% of clothes in the world are made from cotton (or at least partly cotton) goes to prove its abundance and popularity.
For garment manufacturers, cotton is a dream to work with, thanks to its durability, density and ability to absorb inks and dyes much more easily than alternative fabrics (like polyester for instance).
And for those who purchase and wear the fabric, the feel of cotton is soft and delicate on the skin, making it comfortable to wear. In addition to the comfort element, cotton also washes really nicely, thanks to its durability, and stands the test of time. On top of this, cotton garments don’t break the bank and can be worn time and time again.
With all these factors, it’s clear to see why clothes made from cotton are the clear choice for shoppers and manufacturers alike.
However, though cotton is made from natural fibres, it’s production is anything but sustainable. In fact, the production of mainstream cotton poses one of the largest threats to the sustainability of our planet and we are already starting to see the devastating effects this has on our environment.
In this article, we’ll walk through some of the issues of mainstream cotton production, and understand in more detail what effects these methods have on our planet. We’ll also look at some sustainable, as well as ethical, alternatives for shopping or producing clothes made from cotton.
How are Most Clothes Made
From Cotton Made?
The production of mainstream cotton (meaning where the majority of our cotton comes from) is done so in warmer and drier parts of the world. In fact, around 50% of cotton is produced in India and China.
The problem? This form of cotton production requires several thousand litres of water to make a meagre 1kg of cotton (20k litres actually). Not only is this an astounding amount of water to be using which will be detrimental to our ecosystem, but while cotton continues to be produced, and water wasted, there are over 100 millions people in India without access to any, or clean water themselves.
As well as this, the vast majority of cotton is produced using nasty fertilisers and seeds which have been genetically modified. Pesticides and other harsh chemicals go into the manufacturing process, rendering them harmful for the environment, and frankly, our skin for a start.
In addition, as cotton continues to be produced in remote parts of the developing world, we know that many of the workers are treated unethically and are oftentimes working in dangerous conditions for very little pay. Child labour exists in these regions as well, as there are no regulations or rules in place to stop it.
Sadly, we don’t need to go on to understand that issue with cotton production as it stands. Let’s move on to the ways that we can produce and enjoy cotton, without harming our planet or other people in the process...
What is sustainable
You may have heard of one or more of the following: sustainable, ethical, organic or fair trade cotton.
All these terms essentially mean that they seek to do as little damage to humanity and to the planet as possible.
For workers, this means:
No child labour
No GM’s, pesticides, toxic chemicals, fertilisers or genetically modified seeds used in the production process
The cotton can actually be traced from the finished garment, right back to the seed
Workers have rights and are paid/treated fairly in safe conditions
A minimum price is paid to farmers
No toxic dyes or chemicals are applied to the fabric at any stage in the supply chain
No micro fibres are added to the natural cotton, meaning less negative impact polluting our oceans
How Can I Find Sustainable
Cotton for my Brand?
It’s all well and good wanting to make sustainable and ethical choices for clothes made from cotton for your brand, but where do you start?
Well, if you’re looking for GOTS certified organic cotton, coloured with only organic and environmentally friendly dyes, Masala Threads have got you covered!
All of our suppliers use ethical and sustainable means to product the fabrics, and we offer a range of solutions for you to choose between in order to ensure your business is 100% ethical throughout the entire supply chain, including: fabric sourcing, printing & dyeing, design & pattern cutting, manufacturing, photoshoots and eco-packaging.
Build a brand you're truly proud of with the help of Masala Threads.