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Fashion brands sign sustainable cotton pledge

Thirteen fashion and textile brands including Asos, Lindex, H&M, Nike, and Marks and Spencer have signed up to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and have pledged that 100 percent of the cotton they use will come from sustainable sources by 2025.

The 13 names that also includes Eileen Fisher, Greenfibres, Ikea, Kering, Levi’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Woolworth Holdings, met at a high-level meeting in London to discuss the first industry commitment on sustainable cotton with the hope that the initiative can act as a catalyst to spur a shift in the market towards the use of more sustainable cotton.

Organised by the Prince of Wales in collaboration with Marks and Spencer and The Soil Association, the retailers all signed the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which means that the participating retailers will use more sustainable cotton, which in turn will ensure long-term sustainability within the cotton sector as a whole, as well as to help reduce the industry’s environmental impact.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: “The Soil Association warmly welcomes the commitment of these companies to move to 100 percent sourcing of sustainable cotton by 2025. This is a significant moment and a demanding commitment to achieve existing standards – organic, Fairtrade, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Made in Africa and certified recycled cotton.

“Switching to organic cotton supports a way of farming that directly benefits both the local and global environment. Organic cotton farming has been proven to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use and virtually eliminates the use of pesticides. Organic cotton farmers grow a variety of crops to minimise pests and diseases and to maintain healthy soils, which means farmers have the additional benefit of a more secure livelihood, and secure access to food.”

Fashion brands sign sustainable cotton pledge

Marks and Spencer, Asos, Lindex, Nike and H&M all sign up to sustainable cotton initiative

Over 20 million tonnes of cotton is produced in over 100 countries, primarily by smallholder farmers in developing countries, and supports the livelihoods of around 350 million people, the organisation reveals, and to make the market more sustainable it has identified a few areas that need improving including: Increase the income of smallholder farmers; Eliminating highly hazardous pesticides, and eliminate or reduce the amount of pesticides and synthetic fertiliser used; Reducing water use and improve water quality; and improving soil health, including positive carbon impacts as a result of more sustainable practices.

Lindex chief executive, Ingvar Larsson, added: “To achieve change on a big scale it is crucial that we work together in the industry. We are therefore proud to be part of this important global initiative.

“In a short amount of time we have made great progress with our cotton at Lindex, where 91 percent comes from more sustainable sources today, and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

Asos sourcing director, Simon Platts, said: "Asos’ support for the Sustainable Cotton Communique is further evidence of our commitment to sourcing more sustainable cotton and working with industry colleagues to send a positive call-to-action message to the rest of the sector.”

Kering chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs, Marie-Claire Daveu, commented: “At Kering we are focused on building more robust and responsible supply chains and sourcing raw materials more sustainably is a key element of our 2025 sustainability strategy for our luxury brands.

“Working together with other companies who are also committed to using 100% sustainable cotton will help create a strong market signal to improve the methods for cotton cultivation and contribute to reducing the overall impact of the sector.”

All brands involved will be required to independently publish their progress on moving to more sustainable cotton options from 2018.

Images: courtesy of Lindex