Demand for cotton is huge. It's the most used natural fibre in the world - 27 billion kilograms was produced in 2017 at an estimated worldwide value of USD 77 billion.
That's great isn't it? Natural fibre... farmers in developing countries benefit... good for the economy?
Well not really. Cotton has a dirty secret and if you have the stomach for it, read the Environmental Justice Foundation's report White Gold: The True Cost of Cotton (Warning - it is graphic) which details the appalling human rights and environmental abuses in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan including torture and murder, slavery, child labour, environmental vandalism (including the death of the Aral Sea) and the abundant use of damaging pesticides that affect the health people, rivers and land.
The benefits of organic cotton, on the other hand, are numerous including improved soil fertility, lower input costs for farmers and freeing groundwater and rivers of synthetic chemicals through the use of natural fertilizers and pesticides. To learn more about the benefits of organic cotton visit www.organiccotton.org.
And when the cotton is GOTS certified, like the cotton ETHEQ sources, in addition to high environmental and sustainability standards, all processors and manufacturers must meet an important Social Criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). These include freedom from forced labour and child labour, supporting living wages and occupational health and safety standards and freedom of association and rights to collectively bargain amoung other important workers rights.
So when next choosing your clothes, take a moment to consider what happened down the supply chain to bring you that item. For more information of GOTS certifified cotton, go to www.global-standard.org.