Accelerating
sustainable cotton

We work with farmers and the industry to boost the availability of sustainable cotton.

We’re transforming systems and practices to drive sustainable cotton

We know that to increase the market of sustainable cotton, we need to fundamentally transform systems and practices.

While we support various sustainable cotton standards, on the ground we're tackling the conditions that hold organic cotton back.

We're helping cotton farmers make the switch to organic farming. And we're working with brands and industry players so that together, we can accelerate the market and uptake of more sustainable cotton.

In the long term, organic brings better economic gains and better health to farm workers and their communities.

Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Materials

The problem

Cotton is the very fibre of our industry, but farming it is a thirsty, resource-intensive business. Conventional production requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer. These chemicals damage farmers' health and cause the loss of biodiversity.

Organic cotton is better for farmers' health, their businesses and the environment. But right now, less than 1% of the world's cotton is certified organic and demand is exceeding supply. Lots of brands have committed to going organic, but insufficient organic cotton production means they struggle to reach their ambitions.

And right now, there's no central vision or plan between industry players about the best way forward.

At the same time, it is difficult for farmers to convert. Going organic requires new skills, knowledge and access to certified organic seed.

Yields can also be lower in the first years compared to genetically modified seeds, which means farmers have no incentive to make the switch.

 

The opportunity

Organic cotton represents an incredible opportunity to radically transform our industry's impact on the environment and farmers' lives.

If it's grown and sold the right way, organic cotton improves farmers' health and their business, enabling farming communities to thrive. And organic cotton farming eliminates dangerous chemicals, improving the health of soils and increasing water conservation.

That's why we're trying to bring industry players – brands, governments and NGOs – together under a unified plan to strengthen the organic cotton market. And why we are working to increase the number of certified organic farmers worldwide.

Uniting the industry

Working on the ground

Thanks to the commitment of major brands, like C&A, the demand for sustainable cotton is on the rise. And many of these industry players have been working to grow the market. That's good news.

But until now, efforts have been fragmented. Especially around organic cotton. We believe that the industry needs to come together.

That's why we're funding multi-stakeholder initiatives, like the Organic Cotton Accelerator and Cotton 2040. Through these initiatives, we're focusing and accelerating efforts to create a systemic shift towards a sustainable cotton industry.

To accelerate organic cotton, it's imperative we help farmers overcome the barriers to growing it.

In the short-term, organic cotton farming is more labour intensive, high-quality agricultural inputs are hard to come by and yields can be low. And some farmers lack the technical knowledge and skills needed for organic cotton cultivation. 

So we're working with farmers. Giving them the training and finance they need to grow organic. We're demonstrating the social, environmental and economic business case for making the switch. And we're working to make sure farmers have access to high quality seeds and to markets to sell their produce.

Stories of impact

Returning to their traditions

One pulling up the other

Jessore, Bangladesh

How does empowerment help change the lives of women working at a maquila?

Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

Pushpa: One Girl's Journey to Receive an Education

Madhya Pradesh, India

What should working women do when their health may be at risk on the job?

Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

A Collective Transformation

São Paulo, Brazil

A dream that changes lives

São Paulo, Brazil

Connecting for collective action

Tamil Nadu, India

Organic farming as a legacy

Piauí, Brazil

Life After Forced Labour: The rose farmers

A fair, prosperous, sustainable cotton industry is possible

Workers well-being at Maquilas: Consuelo and Natalia pave the way

Piedras Negras, Mexico

A Daughter's Sacrifice

Drip Pool Programme: Innovative Community-Managed Financing Mechanism 

Gujarat, India

The story of Vishram a Drip Farmer in Gujarat, India

Gujarat, India

When workers know their rights and how to demand them

Piedras Negras, Mexico

Life After Forced Labour: Longing to go to school

Thavasimadai, India

A Woman of Character

Ceará, Brazil

A collective journey towards autonomy

More than organic cotton

Immigrants must follow their dreams

Brazil

A Farmer's Organic Mission for Good

Nipa's dream to one day establish a training centre

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Hand in hand for a better Fashion Industry

São Paulo, Brazil

The most stimulating challenge of my life

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

You must educate your children

Earthquake: community reconstruction and strengthening

Morelos, Mexico

Wisdom rooted in Customs

Chiapas, Mexico

KaKa: A Collective Struggle

Santana do Livramento, Brazil

Meet Aklima

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Building a new cotton conscience together in China

China

Handmade

Life After Forced Labour: Mrs. Mariyasanthi and the rice cooker

The Use of Role-Play in Challenging Conventional Gender Roles

Faridabad, India

Tailoring solutions

Brasil

What can maquila workers do to demand better pay?

Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico

Tackling systemic issues within India: Child Labour

Madhya Pradesh, India.

The power of marginalised communities

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Breaking the cycle of violence: Stories of courage

Karnataka, India

For fashion that is more transparent

Life After Forced Labour: The fish farmer

A fair, prosperous, sustainable cotton industry is possible

A Farmer's Organic Mission for Good

Returning to their traditions

More than organic cotton

The story of Vishram a Drip Farmer in Gujarat, India

Gujarat, India

Drip Pool Programme: Innovative Community-Managed Financing Mechanism 

Gujarat, India

A Woman of Character

Ceará, Brazil

A collective journey towards autonomy

Organic farming as a legacy

Piauí, Brazil

Building a new cotton conscience together in China

China

Wisdom rooted in Customs

Chiapas, Mexico

You must educate your children

The most stimulating challenge of my life

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Immigrants must follow their dreams

Brazil

When workers know their rights and how to demand them

Piedras Negras, Mexico

How does empowerment help change the lives of women working at a maquila?

Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

What should working women do when their health may be at risk on the job?

Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

What can maquila workers do to demand better pay?

Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico

Earthquake: community reconstruction and strengthening

Morelos, Mexico

Nipa's dream to one day establish a training centre

Dhaka, Bangladesh

A dream that changes lives

São Paulo, Brazil

Life After Forced Labour: The fish farmer

Life After Forced Labour: Mrs. Mariyasanthi and the rice cooker

Life After Forced Labour: Longing to go to school

Thavasimadai, India

Life After Forced Labour: The rose farmers

Pushpa: One Girl's Journey to Receive an Education

Madhya Pradesh, India

Tackling systemic issues within India: Child Labour

Madhya Pradesh, India.

The Use of Role-Play in Challenging Conventional Gender Roles

Faridabad, India

One pulling up the other

Jessore, Bangladesh

A Daughter's Sacrifice

Meet Aklima

Dhaka, Bangladesh

For fashion that is more transparent

A Collective Transformation

São Paulo, Brazil

Workers well-being at Maquilas: Consuelo and Natalia pave the way

Piedras Negras, Mexico

Breaking the cycle of violence: Stories of courage

Karnataka, India

Hand in hand for a better Fashion Industry

São Paulo, Brazil

Connecting for collective action

Tamil Nadu, India

Tailoring solutions

Brasil

KaKa: A Collective Struggle

Santana do Livramento, Brazil

The power of marginalised communities

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Handmade

Partners