6:45 am – Getting dressed: Cotton shirt

COTTON - is an essential raw material for the textile industry. The good absorbency and high resistance of the fibre has made cotton the most important and most widely used natural fibre in the world. Each of us has at least one garment made of cotton in our wardrobe. However, the cultivation of cotton has a major impact on the environment.

As a tropical plant, cotton needs plenty of sun and water for optimal growth. Since rainfall can destroy the crop, the main areas for growing cotton are in drylands. The high water demand for cotton cultivation places an additional burden on the already low water supply in water-scarce areas. The most prominent example is the Aral Sea: once the fourth largest lake in the world, the Central Asian sea has lost 75 per cent of its water volume in the last 30 years.

During cultivation pesticides are sprayed on cotton fields up to 20 times - significantly more than for other plants. Furthermore, large volumes of chemicals are also used in the processing of the fibres for textiles. The victims are the environment and the workers who are exposed to hazardous chemicals often unprotected. 

Cotton cultivation – the numbers

  • 25 million tonnes of cotton harvested worldwide
  • Grown in around 90 countries; China, USA, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and West Africa cultivate 75%
  • Almost 3% of agricultural land
  • 25% of insecticides used worldwide
  • 11 % of pesticides used worldwide
  • 70% genetically modified cotton
  • 1 % organic cotton

We can make a difference - Tips for green fashion:

  • Buy less clothes and choose high quality
  • Pass on your clothing to others or use otherwise (sell, give away, recycle)
  • Buy clothes made from organic cotton and fair trade clothing
  • Buy clothes made from alternative natural fibres such as linen, hemp or wool

What is organic cotton?

  • Use of chemical pesticides and artificial fertilisers prohibited
  • Cultivation rotated with other plants in order to maintain soil fertility
  • Less soil erosion
  • Main growing regions: India and Turkey
  • Organic certificate only certifies the cultivation and says nothing about the processing of the fibres.